Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon full 9 point review
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. We’re yet to try the C300 diesel hybrid.
Ride & Handling
The optional Airmatic suspension does a good job of masking all manner of road imperfections. Switch to ‘Sport’ and body control tightens up noticeably, to the point where you can hustle the C-Class along surprisingly quickly. There’s lots of grip and the steering is precise, weighting up consistently as you turn the wheel. Sadly, the suspension fitted to SE models is less impressive; it lets the C-Class roll more through corners and shimmy around over scruffy surfaces.
This is the only area where the C-Class disappoints. The diesel engines sound gruff and transmit a bit too much vibration into the cabin, while the C200 petrol is also decidedly coarse by modern standards. The C-Class doesn’t shut out wind noise as well as the best executive cars, either – at least on the versions we’ve tried, which all had an optional panoramic glass roof fitted. So far, we’ve tested the C-Class only in France, where road noise wasn’t an issue.
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. Stick with a manual gearbox and CO2 emissions are remarkably low by class standards, while even the popular automatic versions offer cheap 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. Mercedes was one of the highest-placed brands in the latest JD Power ownership satisfaction survey, although it performed less well in the most recent What Car? reliability study.
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, and a tyre-pressure monitoring system to alert you if you have a slow puncture. If an accident can’t be avoided, seven airbags are on hand to protect you. An alarm and engine immobiliser are standard.
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.