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What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For A good cruiser, the Mercedes C-Class is comfortable and classy

Against The middle rear seat is useless, so don't expect to take more than four

Verdict A good, solid prestige car that you can now have for supermini money

Go for… C200 Elegance

Avoid… Costly AMG

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon
  • 1. Comfort is a big plus point, with better head-, shoulder- and legroom than in contemporary rivals
  • 2. Electrical faults aren't unknown, so make sure that all the gadgets work before you buy
  • 3. Don't worry if you hear clonks when turning the wheel. It's a sign of worn bushes in the anti-roll bars and steering joints, but they're cheap to fix
  • 4. The C180 and C200 both perform well, but we'd have the C200 given the choice
  • 5. None of the models are particularly well equipped, but Elegance is the best balance of kit and cost
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Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon full review with expert trade views

Many people believe Mercedes ownership is out of their reach, but the truth is you can pick up a thee-pointed star for much less than you’d think, so long as you’re prepared to accept a car with a few years and a few thousand miles under its belt.

This generation of C-Class isn’t the most enthralling car to drive, but it has plenty going for it in other areas. Even the oldest examples still give a prestige impression if they’re in good nick, and solid reliability means that most will be good for well over 100,000 miles on the original engine and transmission.

Passenger comfort is a big plus point, with head-, shoulder- and legroom far superior to rival cars of the day. This, combined with a super-smooth ride and good refinement, makes the C-Class great for chewing up long journeys. A good-sized boot also makes it practical as a family car.

Trade view

John Owen

Looking tired and dated. Avoid basic trim/engine/gearbox combinations

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

There’s a huge range of engines to choose from. The C180 and C200 are the most common and the best value because they’re affordable to buy and run. We’d go for the C200 - you get better performance without paying for it too much in fuel economy.

The other petrol engines are also solid performers. Power steps up in small amounts as you go through the range from C230, C240 and C280 to the supercharged C230K. The AMG version is super-quick, but it’s extremely pricey to buy and run compared with the others.

The diesels are very good, but they’re old-tech, so don’t expect too much in the way of economy. The older C220 diesel is slow, but the C250 TD is much better. Avoid the notchy manual gearbox on any version though.

No trim is particularly well-stocked, but Elegance spec offers the best balance of kit and cost.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Automatic and leather essential on petrols, C250 TD best choice

James Ruppert
Used car guru

There are so many different versions and so many examples in various states of repair that you can more or less spend as little or as much as you want on one.

Early cars can be picked up for a couple of grand, but this will only get you a high-mileage car in basic spec without air-con. If you can afford to spend around a few grand more, you’ll get a much better car for your money.

Insurance costs shouldn’t be too steep. The mainstream models range from group 11 to group 15, while the AMG model sits in costly group 19. Stick to our favourite engine, though, and you’ll get a very reasonable group 12 rating.

Fuel economy isn’t terrific and lags behind that of the equivalent BMW 3 Series; no car in the range will beat 40mpg. The C220 diesel will give you 39.2mpg, while the much better turbodiesel will give 35.3mpg. Our favourite C200 gives 30.1mpg, only a fraction behind the most frugal petrol engine.

Trade view

John Owen

Looking tired and dated. Avoid basic trim/engine/gearbox combinations

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

Warranty Direct quotes impressive reliability figures on this generation of C-Class, well above the average. However, repair bills can be steep if it does go wrong, and Warranty Direct quotes an average repair cost of around £450. The cars may be cheap to buy, but parts and labour can be expensive.

The suspension is the source of most of the C-Class’s few problems. But, when conducting the normal checks, bear in mind that the bushes in the anti-roll bars and steering joints can wear, causing a knocking sound when the steering wheel is turned. Don’t worry, this isn’t serious and won’t cost much to fix.

Like newer Mercs, older ones also have their fair share of electrical woes. Batteries have a habit of failing, especially if the car has been used mainly for short trips.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Automatic and leather essential on petrols, C250 TD best choice

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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