Mercedes C-Class saloon review (2014-2021)

"The Mercedes C-Class is more comfortable, luxurious and efficient than ever before, and a thorough facelift has added the latest technology"

Carbuyer Rating

3.7 out of 5

Owners Rating

3.0 out of 5

Read owner reviews
Price
£37,780 - £51,120

Pros

  • Cheap to run
  • Classy interior
  • Comfortable suspension

Cons

  • Fastest diesel is too noisy
  • Slightly cramped rear seats
  • Plug-in versions have a small boot

Mercedes began competing for honours in the compact executive class in 1983. The C-Class was first introduced 10 years later and was joined by the Audi A4 a year after, so that by 1994, both of these saloons were competing with the BMW 3 Series. It’s a battle that’s continued ever since.

These days, the C-Class has even more competition from non-German rivals. Italy, Sweden, Britain and Japan have all developed their own capable competitors in the form of the Alfa Romeo Giulia, Volvo S60, Jaguar XE, and the Lexus IS respectively. Few can boast such a broad range of engines and equipment levels as the Mercedes, though, with fire-breathing power and fuel-sipping economy both existing within the C-Class range.

That became even more the case from mid-2018 onwards, when Mercedes began introducing its EQ range of electrified models, along with a raft of new interior features. Despite subtle exterior design changes, Mercedes promised this midlife revamp was the most comprehensive in the history of the C-Class, and included 6,500 new parts.

We'll start with economy and the new 1.5-litre EQ Boost petrol mild-hybrid, badged C 200. This compact engine produces 181bhp, but a generator harnesses energy under braking and can boost power by 14bhp when you put your foot down again. This makes it quick enough for most drivers and means it can return up to 42.2mpg according to the latest WLTP efficiency tests.

In C 220 d diesel form, the C-Class is claimed to return up to 55.4mpg and emit as little as 133g/km of CO2, appealing to company-car drivers with its reasonably low Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) band. The C 300 e and diesel-based C 300 de plug-in hybrid models are even cheaper to run, using a battery and electric motor to drive around 30 miles without using any fuel. This catapults economy figures to over 200mpg, while low CO2 figures make them especially appealing to company-car drivers. 

If economy is the last thing on your mind, you might prefer something from the opposite end of the price list. If you hanker for a 503bhp V8 petrol engine and four-second 0-62mph time, the Mercedes-AMG C63 S will oblige and we've reviewed it separately.

Whichever model you choose, you're unlikely to be disappointed by the driving experience. It might not have quite the sporty demeanour of a BMW 3 Series, but it's not far off, and offers a more relaxing drive to boot. There's a degree of adjustment available, too, with driving modes that sharpen up the steering and accelerator when you're in the mood for a little spirited driving. Every model has plenty of grip for fast cornering, and the 4MATIC four-wheel-drive system is standard on the Mercedes-AMG C43, giving greater security if the road surface turns loose or slippery – handy for rural drivers.

With the possible exception of cars equipped with the biggest 19-inch alloy wheels, the C-Class is among the most comfortable cars in its class, and its ride quality can be improved still further with optional Airmatic air suspension. It also provides the option of a firm setting that enthusiastic drivers will enjoy.

Trim levels range from SE all the way up to AMG Line Night Edition Premium Plus, with all UK cars getting a generous 10.25-inch infotainment display as standard. Mercedes’ MBUX infotainment system received a major update in 2018 but digital instruments remain a pricier upgrade than in most rivals, and the C-Class misses out on the latest 'widescreen' infotainment setup of newer Mercedes models. All feel well built and are spacious for those in the front, although rear-seat space could be more generous. The C-Class is also generally very quiet inside on the move – although the lack of wind and road noise, has the unhappy effect of making the engines more audible, especially the diesels.

The C-Class range finished a disappointing 74th out of the 100 cars ranked in our 2019 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, and it didn't appear in 2020's run-down. Euro NCAP has given it the full five stars for crash safety, though. Overall, the C-Class is a car with few vices, despite its placing in our survey. Some may be more exciting, but you'll struggle to find a more competent all-rounder.

Next Steps

Which Is Best?

Cheapest

  • Name
    C200 Sport 4dr 9G-Tronic
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £37,780

Most Economical

  • Name
    C300e AMG Line 4dr 9G-Tronic
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £44,100

Fastest

  • Name
    C300d AMG Line 4dr 9G-Tronic
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £44,920

Recommended

Volvo XC60 SUV review
Volvo XC60 SUV front 3/4 tracking
Volvo XC60
14 Jan 2022

Volvo XC60 SUV review

Ford Fiesta hatchback review
Ford Fiesta Best Buy cutout
Ford Fiesta
14 Jan 2022

Ford Fiesta hatchback review

Used Nissan Qashqai review: 2014-2021 (Mk2)
Nissan Qashqai
Nissan Qashqai SUV
13 Jan 2022

Used Nissan Qashqai review: 2014-2021 (Mk2)

Citroën C3 hatchback review
Citroen C3 hatchback front 3/4 tracking
Citroën C3
13 Jan 2022

Citroën C3 hatchback review

Have You Considered

Genesis G70 saloon review
 Genesis G70 saloon
Genesis G70
15 Dec 2021

Genesis G70 saloon review

Mercedes C-Class saloon review
Mercedes C-Class saloon
Mercedes C-Class
5 Oct 2021

Mercedes C-Class saloon review

Most Popular

UK road tax costs 2021/2022 explained
2021 Road Tax explained
Tips and advice
7 Jan 2022

UK road tax costs 2021/2022 explained

Best 0% APR car deals
Hyundai Bayon deals
Deals
5 Jan 2022

Best 0% APR car deals

2022 Citroen C5 Aircross facelift gets bold styling makeover
Citroen C5 Aircross facelift
Citroen C5 Aircross
12 Jan 2022

2022 Citroen C5 Aircross facelift gets bold styling makeover

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
10 Aug 2021

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Electric car charging station
Tips and advice
5 Nov 2021

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?
PCP vs HP
Tips and advice
29 Sep 2021

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
23 Jul 2021

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Top 10 best car interiors 2022
Peugeot 208 hatchback
Best cars
25 Jun 2021

Top 10 best car interiors 2022

Top 10 best electric cars 2022
Ioniq 5
Best cars
1 Dec 2021

Top 10 best electric cars 2022

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2022
Toyota Prius front 3/4 cornering
Best cars
15 Dec 2021

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2022

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2022
Audi RS 3 driving - front view
Hot hatches
27 Oct 2021

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2022