Mercedes C-Class Saloon Review
The Mercedes C-Class is a comfortable premium saloon with a high-quality interior and a range of economical engines, but alternatives are roomier and have better infotainment systems.
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
- Interior quality
- Comfy on the move
- Economical engines
What's not so good
- Alternatives have more rear space
- There are better infotainment systems
- Awkward boot opening
Mercedes C-Class Saloon: what would you like to read next?
The Mercedes C-Class is an upmarket saloon that’s comfortable to drive and comes with a premium interior. It also comes as a more practical estate model, a stylish Coupe or a drop-top Cabriolet if you fancy standing out.
Here we’ll focus on the saloon model, and if you’re looking for a car that’ll lap up long motorway journeys in style and comfort the Mercedes C-Class makes a great choice. It’s relaxing to drive and comes with a much more interesting cabin than the likes of the more restrained Audi A4, BMW 3 Series or Jaguar XE.
From some angles, you could say the Mercedes C-Class it looks like a scaled-down E-Class, but that’s no bad thing. Its design sticks to the less-is-more approach, so it looks more mature than the fussier BMW 3 Series and more elegant than the angular Audi A4.
This theme continues inside. The Mercedes C-Class’ uncluttered cabin is laid out simply and neatly so everything’s easy to reach. You get plenty of posh interior trims that you won’t find in alternatives, too – including some gorgeous unvarnished wood inserts.
Sadly, it’s not all good news. The Mercedes’ infotainment system doesn’t have as many of the latest features as the one in a BMW and it isn’t quite as easy to use. It does look really slick, though, especially if you pay extra for the optional widescreen display which replaces the standard analogue dials.
The Mercedes C-Class is one of the classiest small saloons around. It looks great, feels lovely inside and drives nicely, too
Another area where the Mercedes lags behind the BMW is practicality. Sure, there’s plenty of space for you to stretch out in the front, but lanky passengers in the back will find their heads touch the ceiling more than in the 3 Series. You won’t have trouble carrying luggage through, because the Mercedes’ boot is just as spacious as the BMW’s and the Audi’s.
It’s a shame then that the Mercedes C-Class isn’t as thrilling to drive as these cars. It does iron out bumps nicely around town, though, and it cruises quietly on the motorway – especially if you pick an economical 2.0-litre diesel model.
These versions also come with an automatic gearbox as standard, but it’s not quite as responsive as the one you can get in the BMW. It still changes gear nice and smoothly at slow speeds which helps make it nice and relaxing to drive around town.
You can also rest easy knowing it comes with plenty of safety technology as standard, too, and you can get a high-tech cruise control system that’ll brake, accelerate and even steer for you on motorways.
This kit costs extra, but it helps make the Mercedes C-Class one of the most relaxing premium saloon cars to travel in. Check out our Mercedes C-Class deals to see how much you can save on one.
The Mercedes C-Class’ elegant cabin takes a good few leaves out of the S-Class’ interior design book, but the infotainment system isn’t as easy to use as in some slightly less stylish models
The C-Class’ front and rear seats are worlds apart – you get loads of electrical adjustment and tons of space in the front, but in the back they’re firm and significantly less roomy
The boot’s the same size as in an Audi and BMW, but the Mercedes’ narrow opening makes it a pain to load big boxes. Friends needing help moving house will have to look elsewhere…
The Mercedes C-Class interior dimensions are generous so you get plenty of room to stretch out. There’s enough head and legroom in the front for you to get comfortable, even if you’re very tall, and both front seats come with electric height-adjustment as standard so you can hunker down or raise yourself up high.
There’s also adjustable lumbar support built into the front seats as standard. This lets you tweak the seat’s lower back support to help prevent unpleasant aches and pains on long journeys.
Sadly, space in the back isn’t as generous as up front. A six-foot-tall passenger won’t struggle for knee room, but the C-Class’ sloping means their head might just touch the roof lining – especially in versions with a panoramic glass roof.
Carrying three adults side-by-side is particularly cramped. The central seat is firmer and raised above the outer two, and the huge lump in the rear floor means your middle passenger will struggle to find somewhere comfortable to put their feet.
That said, there’s still enough space for three kids to stretch out, and it’s pretty easy to fit a child seat, too. The back doors open nice and wide and the Isofix anchor points are clearly marked by folding rubber covers.
Plenty of handy storage bins and cubby holes help make sure the interior of your new Mercedes C-Class won’t end up looking like a forgotten kitchen cupboard after a few road trips. All four door bins are wide enough to hold a large 1.5-litre bottle of water there’s space to neatly tuck your phone under a flap in the centre console.
The cupholders in the centre console aren’t particularly generous, however, but there is a netted cubby in the passenger’s footwell if you need to carry any particularly wide bottles or a thermos. Your passengers in the back get a pair of cup holders built into the folding centre armrest and some faux leather seatback pockets – just like in a business-class airline seat.
Just like the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series, the Mercedes C-Class comes with a 480-litre boot. Unfortunately, it’s not quite as easy to load bulky luggage into the Mercedes, because its wraparound brake lights cut significantly into the size of the boot opening. You’ll still be able to carry a set of golf clubs or a baby buggy, though.
All but entry-level SE cars come with 40:20:40 split folding rear seats, so you can carry long pieces of luggage – such as skis – and two passengers in the back at once. If you need to carry even bigger items, flip all the back seats down and the C-Class’ load bay is big enough for you to fit a bike. That said, the small opening and large lump in the floor does make it rather tricky to load some large boxes.
To help stop your luggage rolling around, you get some luggage nets and a folding storage box that tucks neatly under the floor when you don’t need it.
You can choose from a wide range of engines for the Mercedes C-Class, including a 390hp V6, but even this seriously rapid C43 model isn’t as much fun to drive as some alternatives.
The standard nine-speed gearbox can be hesitant and indecisive at times – but then again, it does have nine gears to choose from…
If you mainly do short journeys, you should take a look at the Mercedes C-Class C180 and C200 petrol models. Both come with new 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine paired with a nine-speed automatic gearbox, but only C200 cars get a mild-hybrid system as standard that uses a compact electric motor to reduce fuel consumption and improve performance. It’s the engine to go for if you do lots of city driving – it’s quiet, smooth and won’t cost much to run. Mercedes claims it’ll return 46.3mpg (or 42.2mpg if you go for a four-wheel-drive 4Matic version), but you can realistically expect to see a figure in the high thirties.
If you do lots of motorway miles, you should consider a diesel model instead. The C220d comes with a 194hp 2.0-litre that’s impressively quiet on the move, has plenty of power to keep up with fast-moving traffic, and returns a real-world fuel economy of around 50mpg compared to Mercedes’ claimed 61.4mpg.
There’s also a C300d that uses a similar four-cylinder 2.0-litre engine but produces 245hp. As a result, it’ll accelerate faster than the C220d model and it’s even slightly more economical – Mercedes claims it’ll return 68.9mpg but you can expect it to manage around 55mpg.
In terms of fast petrol versions, you’ve two to choose from. There’s a Mercedes C-Class C300 petrol with 258hp and an AMG-tuned C43 model with a turbocharged V6. The latter produces 390hp which is enough to blast it from 0-62mph in just 4.7 seconds. Still sounds a little tame? There’ll soon be a V8-powered AMG C63 model with more than 470hp.
If you’re more interested in running costs than outright pace, the Mercedes C-Class C300de hybrid is worth considering. This plug-in hybrid pairs the same four-cylinder diesel engine as the C220d model with a 120hp electric motor to return around 90mpg in normal driving conditions. This hybrid drive system also means it’ll accelerate pretty swiftly too.
Charging its onboard battery from 10% to 100% takes approximately 90 minutes using a dedicated wall charger at home – after which you’ll be able to drive for as many as 35 miles in fully electric mode. If you find yourself having to use a three-pin socket instead, you’ll have to set aside five hours for a full charge.
You can have the Mercedes C-Class with 4Matic four-wheel drive – handy if you live somewhere prone to particularly icy winter weather – but these versions are more expensive to buy and can’t match the fuel economy of the standard two-wheel-drive models.
Whether you go for two- or four-wheel drive, you get a smooth nine-speed automatic gearbox as standard. Unfortunately, it doesn’t respond to the shift paddles as quickly as the BMW 3 Series’ eight-speed auto, and it can be a bit sluggish to change down when you accelerate hard in automatic mode.
The Mercedes C-Class is designed to be a comfortable motorway cruiser, not a back-road blasting sports car. As a result, it slinks much more smoothly over bumpy roads than the likes of the BMW 3 Series and Jaguar XE. AMG Line and AMG C43 models feel firmer on rough roads than SE and Sport models, but they’re still impressively stress-free to drive with very little wind and tyre noise entering the cabin at motorway speeds.
Things get even more relaxing if you pay extra for the adaptive air suspension. This separates you from the unpleasant thud of a huge pothole with a cushion of compressed air and makes the C-Class feel almost as comfortable to drive as the larger E-Class.
The Mercedes C-Class doesn’t just feel at home on the motorway, however – the light steering means it’s pretty easy to manoeuvre in town, and you get a reversing camera as standard to help make it as simple as possible to park. Unfortunately, the fairly narrow rear windscreen means visibility isn’t the C-Class’ strong suit. The thick pillars between the front windows and windscreen can block your view of traffic approaching at junctions, too.
Thankfully, it comes with plenty of high-tech safety systems designed to spot other vehicles, even when you can’t. All models get automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control as standard that’ll automatically brake to maintain a safe distance to cars and obstacles in front.
For even greater peace of mind, go for the Driving Assistance package. This comes with blind-spot detection, lane keeping assist and upgraded cruise control that’ll accelerate, brake and even steer for you on motorways – providing you keep your hands on the steering wheel.