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, and slightly more pricey than the competition.

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.

Taking its visual and technological cues from Mercedes’ flagship S-Class, the new C-Class promises refinement and luxury unrivalled in this fiercely fought class. It’s available as a saloon, while an estate arrives later this year. There’s a choice of C220 and C250 BlueTEC diesels, plus a C200 petrol.

Our choice: Mercedes C220 BlueTEC Sport

Mercedes C250 BlueTEC review

Styling

4.1

When designing the new C-Class, Mercedes clearly took inspiration from the latest S-Class limousine. It has a similarly low-slung profile and the same neatly styled lines on the flanks, plus LEDs set into the swept-back headlamps.

The range-topping AMG Line model has a number of racy additions, including lower side sills, deeper bumpers and 18-inch alloys. Plus, our example had even more imposing £595 19-inch AMG rims.

But it’s the luxurious cabin that really steals the show. It’s also influenced by the S-Class, meaning you get a slick dash design with eyeball air vents, plus a gorgeously tactile metal finish for the electric window switches, air-con controls, power seat adjusters and the infotainment system’s rotary controller.

Standard kit is generous, too. All versions get a DAB radio, Bluetooth and Mercedes’ trademark Artico man-made leather, while Sport and AMG cars add desirable extras such as heated seats, sat-nav and LED headlamps.

As you’d expect, there are plenty of options to pick from. Our car had the £2,795 Premium Plus package, which bundles together keyless-go, ambient cabin lighting, a powerful Burmester stereo, panoramic glass roof and a COMAND sat-nav controller that features a glossy 8.4-inch tablet-style screen in place of the standard seven-inch display. Also included was the S-Class’ £350 Air Balance Pack, which adds a fragrance dispenser to the climate control.

Driving

3.6

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 big selling engine is expected to be the 2.1-litre diesel in the C220 and C250 BluTEC, 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 C-Class’ upmarket atmosphere is spoiled when you twist the key and Mercedes’ ageing diesel rattles into life. The 2.1-litre engine fails to settle down on the move, either – it sounds strained when extended and drones on the motorway.

The optional £1,500 seven-speed auto gearbox is unresponsive to throttle inputs and often holds gears too long before shifting up. And while there are steering wheel paddles, there’s no option to lock the box in manual mode, so it frequently kicks down with no warning.

The £895 AirMATIC agility Pack adds air-suspension, adaptive dampers and an Agility Select function that allows you to choose from Eco, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ driving modes. On smooth roads this C-Class floats over bumps, yet potholes, broken tarmac and motorway expansion joints send a crash through the cabin.

The steering is quick and direct, but it’s inconsistently weighted and gives very little feedback. Selecting Sport+ mode sharpens the throttle, adds weight to the steering and stiffens the dampers, but the Mercedes’ front tyres start to understeer more easily than we'd like. Plus, the firm suspension causes the car to skitter uncomfortably over mid-corner bumps.

Reliability

4.2

Mercedes was a top 10 star in our Driver Power 2014 satisfaction survey, with owners praising its cars’ reliability and build quality. And while this C-Class is new, many of its components, such as the 2.1-litre diesel and seven-speed gearbox, are tried and tested.

As you’d expect from Mercedes, the car is packed with safety kit and has already been awarded a full five-star crash-test rating by Euro NCAP. Standard equipment includes seven airbags, a driver drowsiness monitor, stability control and tyre-pressure warnings.

You can also add hi-tech options such as the £2,300 Driver Assistance Pack, which brings lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control. Other extras include a head-up display and an adaptive cornering function for the LED headlamps.

Practicality

4.2

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

It doesn’t take long with a tape measure to realise that Mercedes used the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4 as benchmarks when designing the C-Class. All three cars provide similar amounts of head and legroom for rear-seat passengers, plus they have identical 480-litre boot capacities. The C-Class gets a split-folding rear bench in SE models and above, but unlike the 3 Series, there’s no under-floor space.

There’s lots of useful storage space elsewhere, including a large glovebox, door bins and a lidded cubby between the front seats. The rear armrest incorporates two cup-holders.

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.

Private buyers will enjoy strong 45.2 per cent residuals, while options are bundled in decent-value packs, such as the £995 Executive Pack that adds sat-nav, heated seats and a split-folding rear bench to SE models. There’s also the £1,595 Premium and £2,795 Premium Plus packs.

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

The Mercedes-Benz S Class ESM commonly jams in park or is difficult to select drive , our

experienced technicians normally repair this fault within 24 hours using high quality re

engineered parts to ensure longer service life than the original. The S Class and CL

electronic selector modules are locked to the chassis number of the orignial vehicle therefore

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Yet again, another nice looking Merc saddled by this dreadful 2.1 Diesel engine and auto box. I was in the market for a sporty diesel hatch. I drove the A class AMG 220cdi. Why don't Merc do something with this noisy, agricultural engine and sort the totally pedestrian slushy auto box out. I ended up with the Golf MK7 GTD with DSG and I can honsestly say it is better in every department than the A class. To carry that engine and gearbox over from the A class into an undeniably hansome 'C' class is beyond comprehension - wake up Merc!!!!!

Last updated: 8 Jul, 2014
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