Mercedes C-Class review
There’s a brand new C-Class just around the corner, but the current model still impresses
We’ve already driven the next-generation C-Class in Germany, so the current model will soon be relegated to used car lots at dealers. Meanwhile, the last of the current line-up still retains the qualities that have made it such a winning proposition in the compact executive class.
The current C-Class was last updated in 2018, and the changes sent Mercedes’ compact executive challenger back to the sharp end of the class in style. We were so convinced we named it our Compact Executive Car of the Year, at the 2018 Auto Express New Car Awards.
About the Mercedes C-Class
Rather than shining in one particular area, the appeal of the C-Class is that it does everything well. It’s a consummate all-rounder, and any driver who prioritises comfortable driving, high equipment levels and efficiency will find the Mercedes a satisfying choice.
The compact executive sector is the name given to the car market arena in which the Mercedes C-Class does battle. It’s one of the toughest contests out there, with premium marques doing battle with posh Fords Peugeots, Mazdas and Vauxhalls, primarily for the attention of fleet managers and company car users.
The fierce competition pays dividends for company car drivers. The Mercedes C-Class is just one of a clutch of luxurious, refined and fun-to-drive machines that include the Alfa Romeo Giulia, Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Jaguar XE, Lexus IS and the Volvo S60. Throw in the top-spec versions of large family cars like the Ford Mondeo, VW Passat and Skoda Superb, plus a plethora of stylish crossovers and SUVs, and it’s easy to see how ‘competition improves the breed’.
Car group tests
- BMW 3 Series Touring vs Mercedes C-Class Estate vs Volvo V60
- Mercedes-AMG C 63 S vs Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio
- BMW 3 Series vs Mercedes C-Class vs Jaguar XE
When it first arrived in 1993, the C-Class was the junior Mercedes, but the A-Class soon followed as the German brand delved deeper into the mainstream. An expanding A-Class range has since pushed the C-Class further upmarket, and as well as the regular saloon you can buy a C-Class Coupe, a C-Class Cabriolet and a C-Class Estate. This outgoing version is the fourth-generation, and it’s a hard act to follow.
Highlights of the fourth-generation range that are no longer available to order include a couple of C-Class AMG performance variants, the C43 and C63 S – the latter offering the sort of brute force you’d expect from a supercar. The Mercedes C-Class price list starts at just over £34k for the C200 SE, but you can expect to find some great C-Class offers as dealers make way for the new car.
As mentioned above, equipment levels are great across the range, with even the SE trim level getting 17-inch alloys, leather and gloss black trim, air conditioning, heated seats, a reversing camera, a 10.25-inch infotainment unit with navigation and Dynamic Select driving modes. A glut of driver assist systems are included too, such as cruise control and parking assistance. As a result, SE is the trim level we’d recommend.
The C-Class Sport Edition only adds a few cosmetic tweaks. It gets 18-inch alloy wheels, Agility Control comfort suspension lowered by 15mm, LED headlights, gearshift paddles, a new steering wheel and Artico leather sports seats as standard - all this on top of the SE’s technology and equipment count.
It’s a similar story with the AMG Line model. 18-inch alloy wheels are added alongside an AMG bodykit, AMG Sports seats and further sporty looking tweaks in the cabin. This car also gets lowered Agility Control sport suspension, brakes and steering, and a 12.3-inch digital instrument display, but the basic level of equipment otherwise remains the same as on the SE.
Other trim options include AMG Line Night Edition Premium, which comes with 19-inch alloys and gloss black exterior highlights, along with Mercedes’ Memory Package adjustable driver’s seat, ambient lighting and a 225W Midline sound system. AMG Line Night Edition Premium Plus then adds 360-degree surround-view camera system and a 13-speaker Burmester sound system.
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In this review
- 1Verdict - currently readingThere’s a brand new C-Class just around the corner, but the current model still impresses
- 2Engines, performance and driveThe C-Class remains a solid, stable cruiser, while AMG offerings are still huge fun
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsC-Class economy is strong compared to rivals, with new mild-hybrid petrol model designed for fuel-free coasting
- 4Interior, design and technologyThe C-Class has a cabin that’s among the most sumptuous in the class, while on-board tech is still decent
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceThe C-Class offers a good amount of room up front for driver and passenger, but the boot size is nothing special
- 6Reliability and SafetyThe C-Class brings a solid air of quality, with proven components and a five-star safety rating