Mercedes C-Class saloon

£27,665 - £69,405

Think of the Mercedes C-Class as a smaller version of the top-of-the-range Mercedes S-Class. Mercedes has given the car a luxurious interior, lots of clever equipment and a choice of petrol or diesel engines. As a small executive saloon, the C-Class competes with models such as the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Lexus IS.

Right now, the C-Class can be fitted with a choice of a 2.0-litre petrol or one of two 2.1-litre diesel engines (the latter badged C220 BlueTEC and C250 BlueTEC respectively). The diesels offer excellent fuel economy, but are also quite noisy. A petrol-electric hybrid has also joined the range, boasting emissions as low as 94g/km, 78mpg and sports car-baiting performance. For the first time in the UK, C-Class buyers can also specify four-wheel drive.

The new Mercedes C-Class is available in three trims – SE, Sport and AMG Line. All models come with alloy wheels, synthetic leather interior trim, dual-zone climate control, automatic headlights and wipers, cruise control and a seven-inch colour display.

Interesting options for the C-Class include a fragrance dispenser that lives in the glovebox, a smart head-up display that projects speed and sat-nav info onto the windscreen, plus an air-suspension set-up that allows the car to glide over lumps and bumps, much like the S-Class.

Starting at around £27,000, the C-Class now costs more than the previous model, and its main rivals are cheaper, too. But the generous standard equipment helps to make up for this, and the premium badge on the bonnet means that resale values are generally better.

The C220 BlueTEC will be the most popular model in the UK – and we recommend this engine in Sport specification. This combination will cost north of £31,000, but offers an excellent amount of kit (including the all-important sat nav) along with solid performance and great fuel economy. It's everything a junior executive could need.

Find out what we think is the best compact executive car by watching our video below.