Mercedes C-Class saloon
Price £26,855 - £35,510
- Cheaper to run than before
- Classy new interior
- Comfortable suspension
- High-power diesel too noisy
- Styling is conservative
- Limited choice from launch
At a glance
“The new Mercedes C-Class is classier, more comfortable and even cheaper to run than the old model.”
The new Mercedes C-Class is on sale now, with the first cars expected to be delivered to their new owners in June. The car is aimed squarely at the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4, with prices starting from £26,855. That means the new car is slightly more expensive than the outgoing model. Nonetheless it gets lots of new equipment and is claimed to be 20 per cent more fuel efficient on average across the range.
The Mercedes C-Class will be available with three engines from launch (two diesels and a petrol), while another diesel and a diesel-electric hybrid are set to join the range in June. In the future, the range will be joined by a petrol-electric hybrid, and buyers will get the option to specify four-wheel drive for added grip and stability in slippery conditions.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Economy is up by 20 per cent across the range
The most economical Mercedes C-Class from launch will be the Mercedes C-Class C220 BlueTEC that, when fitted with the six-speed manual gearbox, is capable of more than 70mpg. The car also has low emissions of 103g/km meaning it sits in the 16 per cent BiK (Benefit in Kind) bracket – making it extremely attractive to company car drivers. The C250 BlueTEC, meanwhile, gets added performance, but still boast a competitive economy figure of 65mpg. The C200 petrol, meanwhile, gets 53.3mpg and emissions of 123g/km.
Wait until September and you can opt for the Mercedes C200 BlueTEC, which will be even more efficient and can be had with either 114bhp or 135bhp. The C300 also arrives in September – it is a diesel-electric hybrid that can return more than 72mpg but, with 230bhp, it should also be a brisk performer.
Interior & comfort
Interior is relaxing and quiet, but old engine is noisy
The new Mercedes C-Class has excellent fit and finish, as well as a clutter-free dashboard, which makes it a relaxing place to sit. The interior is also extremely quiet, managing to banish wind noise almost entirely, while the suspension does an excellent job of smoothing out lumps and bumps. However, the diesel engine fitted to the C250 BlueTEC we sampled is carried over from the C-Class and, while it is quieter than it used to be, the serenity of the C-Class’ interior only serves to highlight the gruffness of the engine.
Practicality & boot space
Boot space is up, but some might find the rear seats tight.
The new Mercedes C-Class is both longer and wider than the old model. There's plenty of legroom up front and we also found the controls were better aligned to the driver than the old model's. There are plenty of storage spaces, too, including large door bins and cubbyholes in the dashboard.
Boot space is also up, at 480 litres (the old car's boot had 475 litres), but you’ll have to spec either Sport or AMG Line trim to get standard-fit 60:40 split rear seats. Meanwhile, while there's more shoulder room in the back than the old car, the C-Class's sloping roofline means headroom is tighter than we would like.
Reliability & safety
The C-Class should be reliable and very safe.
All Mercedes C-Class models come with a vast array of safety features, including Attention Assist, which warns the driver when they need to take a break, Collision Prevention Assist Plus (it senses and warns of an imminent collision, and brakes the car if no action is taken), a tyre-pressure monitor, automatic headlights, cruise control, as well as a reversing camera. Sport and AMG Line models, fitted with the company's automatic gearbox, can also be specced with the Driving Assistance pack, which includes adaptive cruise control, blind spot warning, and lane keep assist, which uses gentle steering inputs to keep the Mercedes in lane. The old Mercedes C-Class got a five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP and we would be very surprised if the new car does not follow suit.
Many of the engines are already in use in the rest of the Mercedes range and therefore should be tried, tested, and very reliable. The old C-Class finished an extremely respectable 28th out of 150 cars in our Driver Power 2013 survey.
Engines, drive & performance
C-Class is quick and economical
The new Mercedes C-Class weighs about 100kg less than the car it replaces – thanks to extensive use of lightweight materials, such as aluminum – which means the new car feels much more nimble in the corners. The new car also features clever electronics that aim to make it more fun when cornering, and all models get Agility Select, which can be set in five modes – Comfort, Eco, Sport, Sport+ and Individual. It allows the driver to adjust the car to be more economical or more fun to drive.
All C-Class models come with Comfort suspension as standard, but the car is also available with adaptive air suspension – a first in the segment – that gives the Mercedes excellent straight-line comfort and is priced at around £900.
So far, we have just driven the C250 BlueTEC, which is both economical and plenty powerful enough for most people. Sadly, the new model's quiet interior and superbly comfortable suspension only serve to highlight the gruffness of the diesel engine that has been carried over from the old C-Class. Although, it is slightly quieter than it used to be.
Price, value for money & options
Extremely efficient, but quite expensive to buy
While the new model is slightly more expensive than the car it replaces, generous levels of standard equipment mean that it is actually better value. All cars sold in the UK get a two-bar grille, which follows the same theme as the grille fitted to the top-of-the-range Mercedes SL. UK buyers can also choose to spec it there Mercedes C-Class with powerful full LED headlights. SE models come fitted with 16-inch alloy wheels as standard, while Sport models get 17-inch alloys as well as chrome trim and lower suspension – to make it more fun in the corners.
The biggest changes happen inside, though, and the new C-Class gets a seven-inch TFT screen, which displays all the car's infotainment systems and is operated by using a touchpad system that uses the same intuitive controls as a smartphone's touchscreen. Opt for the Command Online System and the screen grows to 8.4 inches in size. All cars get a multi-function steering wheel and artico artificial leather upholstery, Sport models get Garmin sat-nav system, while top-spec AMG Line cars have leather trim on the dashboard, aluminium trim on the doors, and mood-lighting package. Options include a Head-Up Display and a 360-degree camera (to aid parking) and a fragrance dispenser.
What the others say
"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."
"In all settings the steering is linear and accurate, but again the best weighting is in Comfort, except at low speeds where the Direct Steer system changes its ratio so you end up swooping into side turnings like an 18-year-old hooligan until you get used to it. The brakes are nicely judged, too, with firm initial bite and progressive feel to the pedal so you can stop gently at all speeds."