What's the used Mercedes C-Class saloon like?
When it comes to a rock-solid premium image, there’s little to beat a Mercedes. After all, who doesn’t want to ride behind that famous three-pointed star? The only problem for the C-Class has always been the stiff competition it faces in the compact executive car class, namely the Audi A4 and the BMW 3 Series. However, its comfort and relaxed driving experience, not to mention its air of dependability, have been enough to win plenty of admirers.
Not surprisingly, in the executive car category, it’s the diesel-engined cars that are most in-demand. The 136bhp 1.6-litre in the C200d has enough poke for most, but the 170bhp 2.1-litre C220d feels a little livelier and comes close to matching the smaller engine for economy and CO2 emissions. The thirstier 204bhp 2.1-litre C250d, while admirably brisk, is harder to recommend, as is the later 245bhp 2.0-litre C300d.
Petrol cars kick off with the 156bhp 1.6-litre C180, and then up to a 184bhp 2.0-litre C200, which is a refined and adequate performer. A 258bhp 2.0-litre C300 was later added to fill in the gap between the top-performing 390bhp 3.0-litre C43 and 476bhp (or 503bhp S version) 4.0-litre C63 AMG models, that put sheer pace and track car agility above any considerations of comfort and economy.
Fuel economy is best served by the C350e plug-in petrol hybrid, C300h diesel hybrid, or C300de plug-in diesel hybrid. However, as with all similar hybrid cars, the headline figures should perhaps be taken with a pinch of salt.
Opt for the entry-level SE trim and you'll find 16in alloy wheels, auto wipers, cruise control, a reversing camera and Mercedes' Collision Prevention Assist Plus system fitted as standard, while inside occupants are treated to a 7.0in infotainment system with DAB tuner, multimedia interface and touchpad, and electric seat height and backrest adjustment for the front seats.
Upgrade to the fleet-friendly SE executive edition and you get heated front seats, Garmin-powered sat-nav, front and rear parking sensors, and 17in alloys. Sport models get LED headlights, a lowered suspension, folding and dimming mirrors, and leather sports seats. The range-topping AMG Line specs include 18in AMG alloy wheels, an aggressive bodykit and sports suspension.
Those opting for the beefy AMG models also get a bespoke trim for their fire-breathing monsters. The C 43 comes with a bespoke AMG bodykit, brake calipers and details, Artico leather upholstery and red seat belts, while the C63 comes with a mechanical rear axle differential lock and a Nappa leather upholstery. The range-topping C63 S comes with much of the same equipment except for 19in alloy wheels, grey seatbelts and AMG performance seats.
On the road, the C-Class’s dynamic behaviour and ride comfort are a step up from the older variants, even if it’s not quite as sharp to drive as its two major rivals. Where it disappoints is in refinement, with too much road noise and, most noticeably in the diesel variants, too much engine noise making its way back into the interior.
Much like the larger and more expensive S-Class, the C-Class has a very attractive looking interior. However, once you take a closer look at the materials used, you can tell where the cost-cutting has been made. The Audi A4 certainly has the edge of this Mercedes when it comes to the quality of materials used.
Still, there should be no complaints from anyone up front because there is plenty of space, lots of storage areas and tons of adjustment in the seats and steering wheel to find a comfortable position. Rear leg room is decent too and even the tallest of folks shouldn't find their heads brushing the ceiling - even with a panoramic glass roof - due to the high roofline of the C-Class. The same can't be said of the boot which is smaller than rivals, has a restrictive opening and is of an odd shape that makes packing for a road trip quite tricky.
However, the C-Class remains a solid and mostly dependable buy, with plenty of trims, a well-equipped interior and lots of class-leading safety and security kit. Facelifted models from 2018 onwards gained a bigger infotainment screen of 10.3in and additional driver assistance tech.
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