Mercedes C-Class

Even German firm’s most popular car can be improved; what’s it like to drive?

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

This latest C-Class is a brilliant all-rounder. The comprehensive changes have made it even more luxurious, safer and better to drive. What’s more, the fact that even our range-topping V6 petrol is capable of returning around 40mpg shows how much more economical the new range is. It all adds up to a comfortable, quiet and quality executive saloon.  

After one million sales and four years Mercedes has revamped its most popular car. The new C-Class now gets a more aggressive design, improved engines and a whole raft of features that make it an altogether safer machine. But is that enough?

By the end of this year, BMW will reveal an all-new 3 Series while Audi will upgrade the A4. So, it’s not surprising that this facelift is the most extensive the Stuttgart brand has ever done to one of its products. It claims there are 2,000 new or changed parts.

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Mercedes CLS

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The most obvious update is to the looks. The front end is much more striking, taking on cues from the SLS AMG and CLS with new headlights, a more prominent radiator grille and a sportier lower bumper. The bonnet is now made from aluminium to cut weight too.

Order the optional bi-xenon headlamps with the Intelligent Light System (ILS) and you get a neat row daytime running lights. Character is further boosted at the rear with larger taillamps. Overall, the car is very aerodynamic with a best-for-the-class drag coefficient of 0.26.

Inside there’s now a new, larger display integrated into the instrument cluster as well as new metal trims, quality leathers and grains which contribute to a better feel. The instrument cluster layout has a sportier look and an easy to read lay-out which will please most drivers while there’s also a new generation of telematics (optional with 3D navigation and internet access) which is faster and more intuitive to use. 

The mechanical improvements deserve plenty of attention too. All the engines have been revised, each receiving start/stop as standard, which helps to reduce fuel consumption by up to a third. What’s more all eco-friendly BlueEfficiency units (except the 300 CDI 4Matic) are available with Mercedes’ super smooth seven-speed automatic transmission.

All engines benefit from direct injection which in the case of the super smooth C350 3.5-litre V6 petrol model we drove means a power increase from 268bhp and 350Nm of torque to 302bhp and 370Nm of torque. But the unit returns 38mpg up from 28mpg. It can also accelerate from 0-60mph in around six seconds and onto 155mph! 

Entry-level petrol engines include a 1.8 litre four-cylinder – in the C180, C200 and C250 variations – while the same four cylinder diesel unit is the base for the 118bhp C180 CDI, 134bhp 200 CDI, 168bhp C220 CDI and 201bhp C250 CDI. The revamped C-Class also gets the latest driving assistance systems to keep you in your lane on the motorway, warn you of vehicles in your blind spot and alert you if you begin to fall asleep at the wheel.

Almost no changes have been made to the chassis of the C Class so it still feels very comfortable and balanced regardless of how the driver wishes to behave. It’s not as sharp as a 3-Series but for Mercedes loyal buyers, that’s probably a positive. 

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