Used Mercedes C-Class review

A full used buyer's guide on the Mercedes C-Class covering the C-Class Mk3 (2007-2014) and C-Class Mk4 (2014-date)

For as long as we can remember, the compact executive car market has consisted largely of the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class.

One or two rivals have cropped up along the way, with the Jaguar XE now a key contender, but for more than 20 years most buyers in this class have gravitated towards one of these three.

It’s easy to see why they’re so popular, although the car that really stands out is the C-Class. Thanks to its three-pointed star badge, it’s seen by many as the ultimate status symbol. But whereas a Mercedes used to be only for the very wealthy, the model is now mainstream; not that this makes it any less desirable second-hand.

Models covered

  • • Mercedes C-Class Mk4 (2014-date) - Compact exec is pricey, but is solid, comfortable and full of tech.
  • • Mercedes C-Class Mk3 (2007-2014) - Saloon and estate are hits, despite being costly to run. 

Mercedes C-Class Mk4 

History

The first C-Class Mk4s reached UK showrooms in June 2014. Initially just C 200 petrol and C 220 BlueTEC diesel versions were available, both with four-cylinder engines and six-speed manual or seven-speed auto boxes.

The saloon was followed by an estate in September 2014, by which point there was also a C 250 BlueTEC diesel option, while a C 300 BlueTEC diesel-electric hybrid arrived shortly after.

A coupe appeared in December 2015, then in the summer of 2016 a C 350 e petrol-electric plug-in hybrid joined the range, followed by a cabriolet.

Power junkies have two choices: the 476bhp C 63 AMG, launched in spring 2015, and the 362bhp C 43 AMG, which was in showrooms from late 2016. 

Mercedes C-Class Mk4 reviews

Mercedes C-Class in-depth review Mercedes C 200 reviewMercedes C 220 reviewMercedes C 220 d reviewMercedes C 250 reviewMercedes C 350 e reviewMercedes C 450 reviewMercedes-AMG C 63 in-depth reviewMercedes-AMG C 63 S reviewMercedes C-Class Estate in-depth reviewMercedes C 220 d Estate reviewMercedes-AMG C 43 Estate reviewMercedes-AG C 63 Estate in-depth reviewMercedes C-Class Coupe in-depth reviewMercedes C220 d Coupe reviewMercedes C 250 d Coupe reviewMercedes C 300 Coupe reviewMercedes-AMG C 43 Coupe reviewMercedes-AMG C 63 S Coupe reviewMercedes C-Class Cabriolet in-depth reviewMercedes C 250 d Cabriolet reviewMercedes-AMG C 63 S Cabriolet review

Which one should I buy?

We wouldn’t steer you away from any C-Class; all are well equipped, and none of the engines lacks power.

By far the most common powerplant is the 2.1-litre diesel unit in the C 220 BlueTEC. It endows the Mercedes with decent pace and economy, but it’s noisier than you might expect. Few C-Classes have a manual gearbox and that’s no bad thing, because the seven and nine-speed autos are both superb.

Entry-level (SE trim) C-Classes have dual-zone climate control, 16-inch alloys, automatic wipers, cruise control, heated windscreen washer nozzles and a large suite of safety features. Sport trim adds 17-inch wheels, LED headlights, lowered suspension and Garmin navigation.

AMG Line cars offer 18-inch alloys, sports suspension and body styling.

Alternatives to the Mercedes C-Class Mk4

The Audi A4 comes in saloon and estate forms with front or four-wheel drive, some great engines and gearboxes. Cabin design and quality are superb.

The same criteria applies to the BMW 3 Series, although cars without four-wheel drive have the power going to the rear wheels, so they’re nicer to drive thanks to the much better steering.

For a left-field alternative, the Lexus IS is generously equipped, reliable but inert to drive; it’s only available as a hybrid saloon, too. If you want safety, the Volvo S60 and V60 should be just the job.

Meanwhile, the VW Passat offers most of the A4’s attributes, for less money. And don’t overlook the saloon-only Jaguar XE; it’s great to drive, but is cramped.

What to look for: 

Brakes

Brakes, especially the front ones, can squeal. Finding an effective cure has generally proven elusive. 

Noise

Some cars suffer excessive wind noise due to door fit not being quite right, or because of poorly fitted seals. 

Audio

Many owners say the standard stereo system lacks punch. Even upgraded set-ups can be disappointing. 

Trim

Leather-effect MB-Tex upholstery can discolour and look stained. It seems sensitive to temperature. 

Interior

Although the C-Class is beautifully built and has comfortable front seats, the rear could do with a bit more legroom. All cars are well equipped and there are lots of cubbyholes. Boot space is also generous, at 480 litres (335 litres in the C 350 e). Folding rear seats improve practicality, but check any model you’re looking at has these; while most will, they aren’t fitted as standard. 

Running costs

Most Mk4 C-Classes need servicing at 15,500 miles or 12 months; AMG models have a cap of 12,500 miles. Check-ups alternate between minor and major at £300 and £400. AMG models have maintenance intervals priced at £340, £480, £800 and £700.

All engines are chain-driven, so there are no cambelts and, in theory, there’s no coolant to replace, with long-life fluid used. Brake fluid has to be renewed every two years, but the cost of this is included in a major service.

Recalls

The Mk4 C-Class has already been recalled 20 times. Potential problems include stalling of petrol and diesel engines, airbags failing to go off, oil and fuel leaks, plus the AdBlue filler pipe leaking on diesel models.

Other possible glitches include the loss of power assistance for the steering, seatbelts failing to function properly in the event of an impact and the steering column working free, resulting in a loss of control. 

Driver Power owner satisfaction

A ranking of 27th in our Driver Power 2018 satisfaction survey is a decent result for the C-Class, and a big improvement on last year’s 40th place. Owners praised its safety tech and looks, while performance was also rated. Servicing costs were felt to be high, though, and BMW’s 3 Series scored better in the poll for refinement. 

Verdict

We found more than 4,000 C-Classes for sale, so they’re not as exclusive as you might think, and if you read the online reader reviews it’s clear that reliability isn’t always everything you might expect.

But the C-Class is a technologically advanced family car that’s safe, comfy, quiet and comes with a classy interior.

Whether it’s worth the premium over its rivals is open to debate as the diesel engines are bettered elsewhere, the rear seats aren’t as roomy as they should be and running costs tend to be high, while depreciation can also be stiff. The image and build quality make up for it, but you’ll have to decide whether that’s enough.

Click through to page two for our full buyer's guide on the Mercedes C-Class Mk3 sold from 2007 to 2014... 

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