Used Mercedes C-Class (Mk4, 2014-2021) review

The Mercedes C-Class Mk4 is a classy premium saloon that performs at its best as a comfy motorway cruiser

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

  • Comfortable ride
  • Classy interior
  • Plenty of engine options
  • Not overly fun to drive
  • Unimpressive reliability record
  • Some alternatives are more practical

Verdict

The Mercedes C-Class Mk4 is an appealing choice as a used executive saloon, because it covers a lot of bases really well. The comfort levels in particular are very good, which in conjunction with the classy and well-equipped cabin make the Mercedes very cossetting on longer journeys. It’s not all smooth sailing for the C-Class Mk4, though: practicality in particular is an area where the car loses some ground to its alternatives, and the Mercedes doesn’t have the strongest record for reliability, either.

Which one should I buy?

  • Best used Mercedes C-Class for motorway driving: C 220d SE Auto
  • Best used Mercedes C-Class for performance: C 63 S AMG Auto
  • Best used Mercedes C-Class for economy: C 300de Sport Auto

The fourth-generation Mercedes C-Class executive saloon went on sale in the UK in February 2014, with the launch line-up being quite limited. Three trim levels were available – entry-level SE spec, the mid-range Sport grade and the range-topping AMG Line trim level – and the engine line-up initially only comprised a 184hp 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol called the C200 and a 170hp 2.1-litre four-cylinder diesel that was named C220 BlueTEC.

Over time, the C-Class Mk4 line-up became much more diverse. A 204hp C250 BlueTEC diesel joined the range in September 2014, and by April 2015 there were C300 diesel-electric and C350 petrol-electric hybrid options to choose from. Performance car buyers would be catered for from spring 2015 with the launch of the 476hp C63 AMG flagship model, and a less potent C43 version with 362hp went on sale in April 2016.

It wasn’t just the engine range where the C-Class Mk4 expanded over time. The conventional four-door saloon bodystyle that was available from launch was complemented with a more spacious estate variant in June 2014, and a more stylish but less practical two-door coupe was added to the price lists in October 2015. From February 2016, there was even a two-door C-Class Cabriolet model with a folding fabric roof.

The core Mercedes C-Class Mk4 range would remain as is until May 2018, when the entire C-Class range was given a comprehensive mid-life facelift. While the trio of trim levels were carried over unchanged, a number of engines were replaced with newer like-for-like alternatives, and the exterior and interior were given nip-and-tuck cosmetic tweaks. The facelift also replaced the two previously available hybrids with new C300e petrol and C300de diesel plug-in hybrid powertrains.

In this guise, the Mercedes C-Class Mk4 remained on sale, until it was replaced in July 2021 with the launch of the fifth-generation Mercedes C-Class saloon and estate models.

What are the alternatives?

Two of the biggest thorns in the side of the fourth-gen Mercedes C-Class when new were the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series executive saloons. Like the Mercedes, the Audi and BMW came with well-appointed interiors and premium-badge appeal, although the C-Class does have the slight edge over that pair of cars when it comes to comfort.

Upmarket alternatives to the C-Class go beyond the offerings from Audi and BMW, too. Credible contenders to the Mercedes that place an emphasis on comfort include the Lexus IS and Volvo S60, and there are also the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Jaguar XE if you’re after a sportier drive.

At the more mainstream end of the spectrum, you also have options such as the Ford Mondeo, Peugeot 508 and VW Passat. These cars won’t match the Mercedes for plushness, but they make up for it by being much more affordable to buy.

Mercedes C-Class vs BMW 3 Series vs Jaguar XE

Mercedes C-Class vs BMW 3 Series vs Jaguar XE

In 2019, we pitted the Mercedes C-Class against the Jaguar XE and the BMW 3 Series – the last of these having just gone on sale in the UK at the time. Despite faring well in areas like comfort, equipment levels, the Mercedes wasn’t able to triumph in this three-way head-to-head, though we did rate the C-Class higher overall than the Jaguar XE. Read the full test...

Mercedes C-Class vs Jaguar XE vs Alfa Romeo Giulia

Mercedes C-Class group test

Fresh from a mid-life fresh in 2018, the Mercedes C-Class found itself fighting the Jaguar XE and Alfa Romeo Giulia in our executive car group test. The revisions had done their work, too: the C-Class was the overall winner, with the Mercedes’ better comfort, refinement, practicality and affordability giving it the edge. Read the full test...

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