Like its rival BMW, when you think of Mercedes you’re likely to associate it with class. The Mercedes C-class certainly has plenty of this. It boasts an impressive, upmarket interior and a sleek, aerodynamic exterior and is available in 3 forms; SE, Sport and AMG line.
The Mercedes C-class currently exists with 3 types of engine; 2 diesels and 1 petrol however a new diesel-electric hybrid will be available from September 2014. Mercedes also claims that improvements to the C-class have made their engines 20% more fuel-efficient, making the model (that is more expensive than its rivals) even more appealing.
Weighing a significant 100kg less than its predecessors, the Mercedes C-class is a highly enjoyable car to drive, feeling light, sharp and stable even around corners. All cars in the SE range are fitted with comfortable suspension, however it is only in the Sport and AMG models that a real difference is felt, and that’s if you up upgrade to the optional Airmatic suspension, which puts you back nearly £900.
The Mercedes C-class comes equipped with 7 airbags and scored 5 stars in the Euro NCAP crash rating tests, however fell behind the Audi A4 and the BMW 3-series overall emphasising its suitability as a company car rather than for a young family.
Driving and Performance:
The Mercedes C-class has undergone various improvements and facelifts over the years and now comes with a range of new technologies that help make it one of the “best drives in its class” according to Mercedes.
Rear-wheel architecture (MRA) has made the Mercedes C-class more agile while torque vectoring rear brakes make speed control much smoother. All cars are also fitted with Agility Select, a function that allows you to choose between 5 driving options: Comfort, Eco, Sport, Sport+ and Individual. The latter of these gives the driver the power to customise their drive by mixing the above experiences, making their drive more personal, fun or economical.
Mercedes have also spent a long time perfecting the chassis in the C-class, which makes the drive even more versatile. The popular and automatic, 6-speed gearbox is also easier to control and adds to the fluidity of your journey. Unfortunately, one of the Mercedes C-class’ biggest downfalls is the noise; wind and road noise levels are particularly high externally and although dampened, can be heard inside too.
Suspension in the Mercedes C-class is comfortable but not outstanding, however the Sportier models such as the Sport and AMG range have much firmer settings allowing for better handling (although upgrading to this will cost you around £900). Overall though, the Mercedes C-class delivers an excellent, quick and well-powered drive that remains relatively smooth on all road types.
MPG, Running costs & emissions:
Starting just short of £27,000, the Mercedes C-class might seem a substantial and somewhat painful investment compared to competitors such as the Audi A3 or the BMW 3-series. However the series offers good resale values and its significant weight loss from previous models means that it is more efficient than ever before.
Specifically, according to Mercedes, changes to the engines and gearbox have increased efficiency by 20%. The diesel engines are of course more economically beneficial than the petrol but the latter still achieves 53.3mpg and 123g/km of CO2, which isn’t as bad as others.
More exciting still is the release of the C200 diesel range in June 2014, which will include the C220 BlueTEC saloon, capable of 70mpg and 103g/km of emissions. Come September 2014, Mercedes will be introducing the even more impressive C300 diesel-electric hybrid, boasting 78.4mpg and an extremely low 94g/km, making the Mercedes C-class an excellent choice of company car.
The new Mercedes C-class is longer and wider than the models that came before it. These extensions give way to plenty of leg and cabin room inside the cars, accommodating drivers and passengers of all sizes. That said the series does have quite a large transmissions tunnel, which may decrease the rear, centre passenger’s legroom. If you opt for the panoramic sunroof, this might also decrease the amount of headspace available.
However, the Mercedes C-class comes with a competitively sized boot and optional foldable rear seats. Like all Mercedes, the interior is of a very high quality and boasts faux leather upholstery and dashboard trimmings in the AMG. All cars are equipped with a 7 inch TFT screen display controlled by a touchpad. The only negative here is that this could be distracting to drivers, and its partnership with a chunky rotary dial that carries out the same functions as the touchpad seems a little unnecessary.
The outside of the Mercedes C-class across the series maintains the sleek and sporty feel of previous models. By far the classiest and most attractive is the AMG, with 18-inch alloys and lower suspension. On top of this, all the cars have a range of gadgets that keep Mercedes in the running such as front and rear parking sensors, climate and cruise control and rain-sensing wipers.
The Mercedes C-class achieved the maximum 5 star rating at the Euro NCAP crash tests but scored less than both the Audi A4 and BMW 3-series overall for both child and adult occupant, and pedestrian protection. That said, they still scored 92% for adult occupants and came 12th out of 116 cars in the 2013 JD Power customer satisfaction survey – way ahead of Audi and BMW.
The Mercedes C-class also comes with a range of technologies such as attention assist, collision prevention assist, tyre pressure monitors, a reversing camera and more. If you can afford the Driving Assistance pack for £1,495 you get cruise control, lane assist and blindspot monitoring on top of the standard safety equipment. All of this and 7 airbags (including 1 for the driver’s knees), makes the Mercedes C-class a very safe and reliable car.