Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon full 9 point review
Petrol engines are the turbocharged C180 (with 154bhp) or two versions of the high-performance V8 C63 AMG. There are also three four-cylinder diesels: the C200 CDI (134bhp), C220 CDI (168bhp) and C250 CDI (201bhp). All are up to the job, but the C220 CDI strikes the best balance between performance and affordability.
Ride & Handling
There are two versions of the C-Class, one geared towards comfort (Executive SE) and the other to sportiness (AMG Sport Edition). Each has adaptive suspension that automatically reacts to road conditions, and the standard set-up gives you a comfortable ride but sloppy handling. The sportier models have lower, stiffer settings and more direct steering, and the result is much tighter body control. However, ride comfort really suffers.
Refinement is what really ruins the C-Class. The small petrol engine sounds breathless and strained, while the four-cylinder diesels are unforgivably clattery and give off far too much vibration. Settle for a manual gearbox and you’ll also have to endure an overly springy clutch pedal and a notchy gearshift. All models suffer from too much wind and road noise as well.
Buying & Owning
The C-Class costs more to buy than many of its closest rivals, but strong resale values help to compensate. The diesel models offer competitive fuel economy and CO2 emissions for company car users, but leasing rates are high.
Quality & Reliability
Mercedes has a reputation for quality and classiness, but peer into the C-Class and you might wonder why. There’s soft-touch material dotted around the place, but many of the panels are disappointingly drab. Mercedes performed poorly in our latest reliability survey, too. That said, owners were extremely positive about the C-Class in the latest JD Power customer satisfaction survey.
Safety & Security
Seven airbags, including one to protect the driver's knees, are standard, and there's stability control to help you stay on the road. There's also a system that braces you in the ideal position in an impending crash. Options that have filtered down from bigger Mercedes include headlights that adjust their beam pattern to suit the road. Deadlocks and an alarm are fitted as standard to keep thieves out.
Behind The Wheel
The C-Class has chunky ventilation controls, but most other functions are controlled through a system where you scroll though on-screen menus with a rotary dial. It’s more complex than rival systems, which makes it more distracting. You might struggle to get comfortable in manual models, too, because the pedals are heavily offset to the right.
Space & Practicality
The C-Class can carry four adults in comfort, but the optional panoramic sunroof is best avoided because it eats into headroom. A hefty transmission tunnel makes life uncomfortable for any central rear passenger. The boot is one of the biggest in the class and is well shaped, but you have to pay extra for folding rear seats on some models.
Entry-level Executive SE trim comes with most of the kit you want, including alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, climate and cruise controls, rain-sensing wipers, Bluetooth and artificial leather upholstery. AMG Sport Edition models get sporty styling tweaks inside and out, plus sports seats and lowered suspension.