Mercedes C-Class review

Our Rating: 
4
4.0/5.0
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

All-new Mercedes C-Class goes posher than ever before as it bids to topple BMW 3 Series

For: 
Upmarket interior, economical engines, comfortable ride
Against: 
Noisy diesel engine, conservative exterior design, limited choice at launch

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The all-new Mercedes C-Class is here to take on the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4 in the competitive compact executive sector. Prices start just under £27,000, making the C-Class slightly more expensive than the outgoing model.

However, Mercedes has added lots more equipment to lure in new buyers, so spec-for-spec, the new model is actually better value than before. This is especially true when you consider that Mercedes claims improvements to the engines mean it’s also up to 20 per cent more fuel-efficient.

Three engines are available at launch – two diesels and one petrol, with a further diesel and a diesel-electric hybrid joining the range in September 2014. An estate version, and a high-performance AMG model, will also be on sale before the end of 2014, while a petrol-electric plug-in hybrid, the option of 4MATIC four-wheel drive and a sleek C-Class coupe will arrive at a later date alongside a convertible.

Our choice: Mercedes C220 BlueTEC Sport

Mercedes C250 BlueTEC review

Styling

4

The C-Class is Mercedes' most important model – one in every five new Mercs sold worldwide is a C-Class. So that means the designers can’t be too controversial with the exterior looks. At the front, all cars sold in the UK get an SL-style two-bar grille flanked by curvy lights that look similar to those fitted to the larger S-Class. You can opt for LED headlights like the S-Class’s too.

The car’s side features muscular creases, while the rear features quite a short bootlid and LED tail-lights. SE cars get 16-inch alloys as standard, Sport models get more chrome trim, 17-inch alloys and 15mm-lower suspension, while AMG Line cars look the best thanks to their 18-inch alloys and curvier bumpers. The C-Class isn’t exactly striking, but it’s a handsome enough car, and looks less macho and aggressive than a 3 Series.

Inside, Mercedes has taken a bigger step, with a much higher-quality, better-designed cabin than the outgoing model. All cars get a seven-inch central TFT screen – upgradable to an 8.4-inch TFT screen if you spec the COMAND Online system. This displays all of the car’s infotainment functions and is controlled by a new touchpad that’s easy and intuitive to use. Also included is a well-designed multi-function steering wheel.

All cars have Artico artifical leather upholstery as standard, Sport models get Garmin sat-nav included, and top-spec AMG Line cars have more leather trim on the dash, aluminum trim on the doors and an interior lighting package. Options include a head-up display, 360-degree-view camera to aid parking and a glovebox-mounted fragrance dispenser.

Driving

4

The new C-Class is the first car to be built using Mercedes’ new rear-wheel drive architecture (MRA). This uses around 50 per cent aluminium in its construction – up from 10 per cent before – and cuts 70kg from the body. Other weight savings mean the new C-Class weighs around 100kg less than previously, which all helps improve the driving experience.

The C-Class does feel much more agile than before, thanks to the weight loss and to the fact that the car now features torque vectoring rear brakes. All cars get Agility Select, which allows the driver to choose between Comfort, Eco, Sport and Sport+ and Individual modes – the latter letting the driver mix and match their preferred settings from the other pre-defined modes.

Mercedes C-Class 2014 rear tracking

All C-Class models come with a newly designed comfort suspension as standard, lowered by 15mm on Sport and AMG Line cars. However, for the first time in the segment, adaptive air suspension is a £895 option. The air springs don’t do a great deal for dynamics – unless you stick them in their firmest setting – but the extra comfort they give on a long cruise is exceptional.

The steering is accurate and direct, although a little extra response just off the straight-ahead would be welcome. However, that might be different in cars with standard steel springs.

So far, we’ve only sampled the C250 BlueTec diesel, which provides plenty of power and competitive claimed fuel economy figures. However, it’s carried over from the previous car and remains pretty gruff and noisy. The engine is marginally quieter than the previous model, but the higher quality interior, smooth ride and near-total lack of wind noise only serves to add to the impression that the engine should be better.

Likewise, the 7G-Tronic automatic gearbox is carried over, and while it’s very smooth in comfort mode, and makes quick manual shifts, it doesn’t seem to ever be in quite the right gear in Sport mode – a problem that the eight-speed auto in the BMW doesn’t have.

Reliability

4.5

Standard safety equipment on all C-Class models includes Attention Assist, Collision Prevention Assist Plus, automatic lights, cruise control, a tyre pressure monitoring system and a reversing camera. Much of this tech already exists in other Mercedes models, so it’s all proven and should be reliable. Likewise, a number of engines and the auto gearbox are also carried over.

Further safety equipment can be added on Sport and AMG Line models fitted with auto gearboxes only. The Driving Assistance pack costs £1,495 and includes adaptive cruise control, blind spot warning and lane keeping assist.

The new C-Class hasn’t been tested by Euro NCAP yet, but the previous car gained a five-star rating in 2009.

Practicality

4.5

At 4,686mm long and 1,810mm wide, the new C-Class is 95mm longer and 40mm wider than before. Couple this to an 80mm increase in wheelbase, which now measures 2,840mm, and the C-Class certainly has the potential to offer more cabin space.

And that’s true in part. Up front, there’s lots of room in the comfortable seats, with plenty head and legroom. The driving position is better aligned now, too, and visibility is good. There’s plenty of space in the doors and dash to store the usual on-board clutter, with all models including a media interface for connecting your smartphone to the car.

Mercedes C-Class 2014 interior

However, in the rear, which shoulder room is better, both head and legroom is a little tight – the reason being the roof line swoops down quite a bit at the rear to help aid aerodynamics. Boot space has increased by five litres to 480 litres – the same as a 3 Series – although you have to opt for either Sport or AMG Line models to get a split-folding rear seat.

Running Costs

4

At launch, there are two diesel and one petrol engine options to choose from. The C220 Bluetec 168bhp 2.1-litre diesel is expected to be the best seller. In entry-level manual SE form, it emits 103g/km and returns over 70mpg, meaning it sits in the 16 per cent BiK bracket – great for company car drivers.

The C250 Bluetec model is much cleaner than before, and claims the same CO2 figure, but 65mpg. The only petrol model is the C200, powered by a 181bhp 2.0-litre engine that returns 53.3mpg and emits 123g/km of CO2, whether you choose manual or auto gearboxes. All engine and gearbox combinations are more competitive in terms of running costs than before, with some up to 20 per cent more efficient.

The engine range will soon expand to include the C200 Bluetec, which is powered by a new 1.6-litre diesel that comes in 114bhp or 135bhp versions. A C300 Bluetec diesel-electric hybrid will also be offered, which develops 230bhp yet returns 72.4mpg. A plug-in petrol-electric hybrid will also be offered.

Disqus - noscript

c350cdi needed.

Its a cheap car trying to look expensive but it never will with such a dated design

Better than the last C classe, but not really moved on to safe to generic.interior looks OK but that Lexus like controller looks far too busy .Volvo do it better and its far safer than all this touchy feely goings on Mercedes.Driving is not that safe so continually looking and operating so many devices while on the move not good.Hope its better built than current Mercedes are

Oh another thing the rear 3/4 looks a little like the old Jaguar S class

That rear.... oh dear... and why are MB making their satnav screens look aftermarket and flimsy? A more integrated screen would make this a much nicer place.

Sounds like it's a better car than the last one though - apart from the diesel engine which seems to be it's Achilles heel again.

How does Mercedes get away with fitting plastic seating!

I wonder when was the last time a C-Class (or its predecessors) had as little power as 114bhp? You really would have to be a moron to spend so much money on something so incapable.
A four cylinder Mercedes is a poor-man's Mercedes, so why is this range so expensive?

Why would you have to be a moron? Not everyone is into traffic light grand prix, and granted in a 114HP car as heavy as the C Class you'd look silly it you tried. Somepeople want a nice place to be and drive but with low emissions for perhaps BIK reasons.

Only 1 petrol engine to start with? Will there be a V6 ? If not, then im not interested, then Hello BMW 328i 335i & Lexus IS250 :)

Do not like the way the front grille appears to be thought of afterwards and then stuck onto the front. Overall styling might be ok need to see it in the metal. Also don't like the flimsy looking iPad thing on the inside. A little disappointed at this stage - Lexus have a great contender now with their new IS and looks to be the car of choice.

I wonder how these "modern smart" cars loaded with all kind of electronics will stack up when Top Gear puts them to the test as the £100 car 10 years from now.....

There is something about the styling of this car that is reminiscent of the Rover 75...

The same type of moron who buys a BMW 316!!!

Four cylinder BMWs and Jags can be considered a waste of money as well?

I agree that 114HP is a bit under powered, but the car is lighter the previous model. There is the BIK to consider.
The 136HP would be more acceptable, but if you send a lot of time in traffic does it matter?

So what is considered a modern design?

And that was one ugly car! (Joke!)

I'm afraid the motors in the 328i and IS250 are both four cylinder lumps these days. Modern cars are getting progressively more downmarket.

Ok the 328i is 4 cyl but its 270bhp C200 180bhp.....& the IS250 is V6, you're thinking the IS300h that's 2.5 4 cyl :) rumours is that the IS250 v6 gonna be replaced by a IS200t 2.0turbo 4 cyl though, just curious to know what happen to likes of C350 & C300 (UK didn't get in the previous gen other places did) if there be successors even if it is smaller displacements

You need to drive the 316d before making this comments. Having the same motor as the 2.0d in detuned state it is a very strong performer on med-long journeys.

Totally - an old design rear-end. Not doing their attempts to lower buying demographic age are they. Try again M-B in another 5-8 years.

And why is it that every M-B I try out you feel 'hemmed-in' in the fron/passenger seat - big on the outside and small on the inside is always the impression I get

That sat nav screen is just an embarrassment - how on earth did they get that signed off? BM and Audi will be laughing their head-off about now...

Oh wow, you're right! I was just about to get excited - particularly as I believe there'll be a coupe version, and then saw that it was automatic-only. So close, and yet so far...

Yep the RC300h hybrid same as IS300h, just read on another car magazine site C250 petrol driven, wont be on sale in UK due to poor sales of the previous C250 & new one is more refined than one the the new diesels c-class cant remember which one so a C300 or 350 V6 i guess wont happen here, shame :(

The 316i was a joke of a car.

I kinda hear what you're saying. But I don't suggest that every model should be a rip-snorting AMG, spitting fire and scaring old ladies.

A nice place to be and drive (read. premium) can be summed up by a single verb - to waft.

A wafty car is a car that glides along at a moderate pace making no appreciable effort. It's all about reserve (the Rolls Phantom has a Power Reserve Gauge...and a V12).

If an unthinkable situation occurs and a little burst of exuberance is required, there needs to be an appreciable amount in reserve to fulfil without any drama. If there must be an audible presence, it should be of an agreeably burbly nature.

Proper Mercedes are wafty cars, that silently slur gears and generally detach the driver from the road. A proper Mercedes would be a C240 V6.

regardless of whether you think it a joke, the 75 was a very good looking and well proportioned car, whereas this is not.

I owned a 318d and I put over 60,000 on it. I drove a 316d during that time and therefore had a good benchmark to test it against!
Personally I found it was sluggish by comparsion to the 318d in the midrange.
My response was to Morg's "moron comment"
114 -116 BHP in a diesel with plenty of torque is acceptable and will give good mpg and BIK.

Well if you look at how many people are buying new A-Classes compared with the previous model, I'd say Merc are taking their styling in totally the right direction. More interesting than the usual 3-Series/A4.

Give this a proper MB grille and the 350cdi powerplant and it would make an exceptional cruiser. Shame it's getting neither...

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Mercedes-Benz W220 W215 R230 ESM Gear Selector Repair

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Last updated: 10 Mar, 2014

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