Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon full 9 point review
Ride & Handling
The optional Airmatic suspension does a really good job of keeping things comfortable on the motorway, although the ride can become a little crashy around town – especially over potholes. Put this suspension in ‘Sport’ and things tighten up noticeably; in fact, you can drive the C-Class along a twisty road pretty rapidly. We’d certainly recommend the air suspension, because none of the standard set-ups (SE, Sport or AMG Line) delivers a settled ride or especially agile handling.
This is the only area where the C-Class disappoints. The diesel engines sound gruff and transmit too much vibration into the cabin, and the C200 petrol is also pretty unrefined by modern standards. There’s plenty of road noise on the motorway, and the C-Class doesn’t shut out wind noise as well as the best executive cars – particularly versions equipped with the optional panoramic glass roof.
The diesel C220 Bluetec pulls strongly from low revs, and the swift acceleration continues beyond 4000rpm. The C250 Bluetec has a bit more mid-range oomph, but isn’t really worth the extra money. You have to work the engine in the C200 Bluetec hard to get anywhere in a hurry, and it often feels slow. The C200 petrol is fast enough, but requires plenty of revs.
Buying & Owning
The C-Class is priced in line with its closest rival, the BMW 3 Series, which means it’s more expensive than an Audi A3 Saloon or Volvo S60. Go for a manual gearbox and CO2 emissions are remarkably low by class standards, while even the more popular automatic models offer comparatively low company car tax bills. Official fuel economy also impresses, while resale values should be relatively strong.
Quality & Reliability
Interior quality is one of the C-Class’s biggest assets. Every surface looks and feels a grade above what you’ll find in a BMW 3 Series, while most of the buttons and switches feel solid and well damped. Range-topping AMG Line models are classier still, thanks to dashboards wrapped in imitation leather. This generation of C-Class didn’t feature in the most recent JD Power customer satisfaction survey, but the previous model scored above-average marks for reliability.
Safety & Security
All models come with a collision-prevention system that can automatically apply the brakes to stop you running into the vehicle in front. There’s also a tyre-pressure monitoring system to alert you early if you have a slow puncture. If an accident can’t be avoided, seven airbags are on hand to protect you, which helps explain why the C-Class scored impressive marks in its Euro NCAP crash test. A standard alarm and engine immobiliser should help fend off thieves.
Behind The Wheel
Even seriously long-legged drivers will have no problem getting comfortable, thanks to plenty of adjustment to the seat and steering wheel. Visibility is also pretty good by executive car standards. All models come with a seven-inch colour screen that’s controlled using a rotary dial and touchpad positioned between the front seats. Most of the time, though, you’re better off sticking with the rotary dial, which is quicker and easier to use on the move.
Space & Practicality
There’s an enormous amount of front legroom, and plenty of front headroom, too – even in cars equipped with the optional panoramic roof. The glass roof does impinge a little on rear headroom, although six footers will still fit. Boot space is on a par with that in a BMW 3 Series and the load bay is easily wide enough to take a set of golf clubs. Split-folding rear seats are standard on all but the cheapest versions, and the seatbacks lie flush with the boot floor when dropped.
Entry-level SE cars come with 16-inch alloy wheels, man-made leather seats, climate and cruise controls, a reversing camera, rain-sensing wipers and a DAB radio. Sport trim is our favourite and gets 17-inch alloys, flashier interior trim, sat-nav, heated front sports seats, LED headlights, lower suspension, front and rear parking sensors, and split-folding rear seats. Range-topping AMG Line models come with 18-inch alloys, an AMG bodykit and a sports steering wheel.