Premium saloon cars offer generous amounts of practicality in an elegant body with a luxurious interior to match. The latest Mercedes C-Class is one of the best in its class, but is it worth shelling out for its big brother, the Mercedes E-Class?
See how much carwow can help you save on either of these plush saloons by heading over to our car deals page. If you’re not sure what to buy, read our list of the 10 best executive saloons or check out our car chooser tool for more help.
Mercedes C-Class vs Mercedes E-Class prices
The C-Class is priced from £29,035, slightly more than close rivals the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series. It comes with plenty of equipment as standard, including an artificial-leather interior, infotainment system, climate control and 16-inch alloy wheels.
Costing from £35,160, the E-Class is, again, a little more expensive than direct rivals, but offers impressive levels of comfort and luxury. Standard SE models come with 17-inch alloys, an infotainment system, all-round LED lights, heated leather seats and Mercedes’ Parking Pilot system.
Naturally, if you’re comparing similarly priced C-Classes and E-Classes, the former will give you more bang for your buck in terms of equipment and engine choice, while the latter offers more overall interior space.
Mercedes C-Class vs Mercedes E-Class styling
Hailing from the same family, the C-Class and E-Class share many design cues, including the brand’s dominant grille, three-pointed badge, bold headlights and sharp lines. The C-Class’ sides are a little more sculpted, however, and features a few more aggressive angles giving it a slightly sportier overall image.
The E-Class has a more elegant, mature look with less obvious body styling. A longer boot and cabin gives the E-Class more visual length than the C-Class which is either a good thing or a bad thing depending on your point of view.
Mercedes C-Class vs Mercedes E-Class interior
The C-Class’ cabin is one of the best in its class, with immaculate build quality, plenty of luxurious materials and lots of on-board tech. The dashboard itself is stylish and draws inspiration from the larger S-Class. DAB digital radio and Bluetooth connectivity are standard across the range while sporty AMG Line models get some extra sporty touches to mark them out.
The E-Class steps the levels of luxury up a few notches. It feels less like a scaled-down S-Class interior and more like a straight reproduction of it. High-quality materials and similarly sturdy build quality make it feel like it’ll stand the test of time. The dials can be replaced by an optional second infotainment screen that gives the E-Class the edge over the C-Class in terms of tech.
Mercedes C-Class vs Mercedes E-Class practicality
The Mercedes C-Class’ interior isn’t just handsome, it’s spacious too. Head and legroom in the front is impressive while, in the back, there’s a decent amount of space, although headroom is slightly dented by the sloping roofline. There are a few handy cubby holes and the 480-litre boot space is large enough for most buyers – the opening is slightly restricted, however, by intrusive brakelight frames. Disappointingly, you have to fork out £995 for 60:40 split-folding seats as part of the Executive pack that also includes sat nav and heated front seats.
Unsurprisingly, the E-Class is roomier than the C-Class. Up front, there’s loads of head and legroom and there’s even more space in the back. The E-Class’ 540-litre boot is larger than some of its key rivals and has a wider opening than the C-Class making it easier to load. Split-folding seats are, again, a £345 option that would be standard on many of the Mercedes’ competitors.
Mercedes C-Class vs Mercedes E-Class engines
The C-Class range opens with a 184hp C200 turbo petrol model that returns 50mpg and covers the 0-62mph sprint in 7.5 seconds. For more performance, there’s a C43 AMG 4Matic that flies from 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds, has four-wheel drive yet still averages 37.2mpg. The top-end AMG C63 makes up to 510hp and hits 62mph from rest in four seconds flat. Diesel models are more popular, however, with the C200 Bluetec being the most economical, averaging 72.4mpg. The C220 is a bit quicker, while the C250 improves performance further without sacrificing its impressive economy figures. Hybrid buyers can pick the C300 Bluetec with 230hp and an average of 78.5mpg or the plug-in C350e that claims 135mpg.
The E-Class doesn’t have a particularly wide range of engines. The entry-level engine is the E200d, a diesel with low running costs thanks to 72mpg fuel economy but still covers the 0-62mpg sprint in 8.4 seconds. Most buyers will opt for the more relaxed E220d with 194hp and the same economy figures but a faster 0-62mph time of 7.3 seconds. The E350d has 258hp and races from 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds while returning a very respectable 54mpg. Petrols are less popular but come in 184hp E200 or 245hp E300 form while performance fans can pick the unhinged AMG E63 with up to 612hp and a 0-62 time of just 3.4 seconds.
Mercedes C-Class vs Mercedes E-Class driving
The C-Class is a pleasant car to drive thanks to light, accurate controls and suspension that strikes a great balance between comfort and control. It doesn’t feel quite as nimble as the BMW 3 Series, but it soaks up bumps well provided you avoid larger alloy wheels and has a poised feel through the corners. Air suspension is an option that increases the comfort factor somewhat but is only really worth it on more expensive versions.
The E-Class is exceptionally comfy on the move – although it’s at its very best with the optional air suspension that lends it a luxury car float. The optional £1,695 Driver Pilot uses the adaptive cruise control and electric power steering to drive autonomously at speeds of up to 130mph, although you do have to keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times for it to work.
Mercedes C-Class vs Mercedes E-Class verdict
The C-Class is the sportier of the two so, if maximum interior space isn’t your top requirement but you want something with a little more driver appeal, it’s probably the car for you. The E-Class is more refined and plusher, however, and its more modern 2.0-litre diesel is smoother than the equivalent 2.1-litre unit fitted to the C-Class. If you can afford it, the E-Class’ more rounded driving experience with a greater focus on comfort and space might swing it, but the C-Class offers much the same experience for a lower price.
Mercedes C-Class vs Mercedes E-Class video reviews
Watch our in-depth video reviews to find out more about these two cars.
Mercedes C-Class Saloon 2017 Mat Watson review
Mercedes E-Class Saloon 2017 Mat Watson review
Save money on your next new car
To see how much carwow could help you save on either of these premium saloons, head over to our Mercedes C-Class deals page and our Mercedes E-Class deals page. To see what else this class has to offer, take a look at our car chooser or read our list of the 10 best saloons on sale.