Costs & verdict
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
The C-Class is one of the most expensive premium estate cars you can buy; like for like, it’s costlier than an Audi A4 Avant or a Volvo V60. What’s more, these high prices mean high P11D values; combined with CO2 emissions figures that are no better than those of its most efficient rivals, this means the C-Class is actually quite expensive in terms of benefit-in-kind tax for company car drivers.
That said, the diesel-electric C300de will make a more compelling company car choice when it arrives in mid-2019. Thanks to its diesel engine twinned with an electric motor and a battery big enough for a claimed 30 miles of electric-only range, its CO2 emissions drop to a tax-beating 42g/km.
Diesel models’ fuel economy figures are impressive, although they don’t quite match the class best; petrol versions, meanwhile, are way off the pace. Fortunately, if you buy a C-Class instead of leasing it, resale values will be relatively strong.
And it goes without saying that you shouldn’t expect the high-performance models to be cheap to run; fuel, insurance and servicing costs will all be decidedly hefty.
Equipment, options and extras
Even entry-level SE models get a worthwhile specification, including 16in alloy wheels, sat-nav, man-made (Artico) leather seats, climate control, cruise control and a rear-view camera. However, we’d definitely recommend adding Airmatic air suspension to smooth the ride.
Sport adds larger, 17in alloy wheels, full LED headlights, flashier interior trim, heated front sports seats and front and rear parking sensors. This trim also gives you the option to add the Premium and Premium Plus packs, but they are pricey.
You can pay even more by going for AMG Line trim, but we don’t think the extra (mainly cosmetic) kit is worth the additional cost.
The C43 gets larger alloy wheels as standard, plus a full AMG bodykit, AMG sports seats, a flat-bottomed performance steering wheel and nappa leather upholstery.
Mercedes-Benz came in at 26th place out of the 31 manufacturers sampled in our most recent reliability survey - above Jaguar but below Audi, BMW and Volvo. The C-Class itself didn't do too well, either, proving to have more faults on average than a 3 Series or Audi A4.
You get a three-year, unlimited-mileage warranty and three years of breakdown cover. That’s similar to what most rivals offer.
Safety and security
All C-Class models get a collision prevention system that can automatically apply the brakes to help stop you from running into the back of the vehicle in front. There’s also a tyre pressure monitoring system to alert you if you have a slow puncture. All models get multiple airbags and a system that can detect if you’re getting drowsy on a long journey.
This all helped the C-Class score impressive marks in its Euro NCAP crash test in 2014. It was awarded the maximum five-star overall rating, along with good scores across the board in the individual categories; its 92% adult occupancy protection rating is better than what the A4 achieved, for instance, although its child occupancy protection score of 84% is slightly lower than the A4’s rating.
An alarm and engine immobiliser are standard on all versions, while security expert Thatcham awarded the C-Class five out of five for resisting theft and four out of five for resisting being broken into.
For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here