Used Mercedes C-Class saloon review: 2014-2021 (Mk4) - Interior comfort and safety

Stylishly designed and handsomely equipped, the C-Class Mk4’s cabin seats four adults in considerable comfort

Carbuyer Rating

3.7 out of 5

Interior, comfort and safety Rating

4.0 out of 5

There’s a real sense of class about the C-Class Mk4’s interior. It’s modern, solidly made and the materials used in its construction are of high quality. Even the entry-level SE trim grade is packed with standard equipment, and while rear headroom is tight for tall passengers, overall there’s space for four adults to get comfortable. Boot space is on a par with that of rivals, but the intrusion of the wheelarches, together with a comparatively narrow opening, will limit what you can pack into it. 

What’s the Mercedes C-Class Mk4 like inside?

From the driver’s seat – very firm on first acquaintance, but very comfortable on long journeys – the dashboard can appear quite busy and intimidating, bristling with knobs and switches, while the multi-function steering wheel of high trim grade models features controls for the audio, phone, cruise control and other vehicle functions. There’s also a large digital display between the speedometer and rev counter dials to show trip computer readouts, basic sat-nav instructions, and vehicle set-up details.

Rising from the top of the dashboard to your left is a high-definition colour screen displaying the various operations of the infotainment system, including radio and audio settings, satnav maps, images from the reversing camera where fitted, climate control settings, and what modes (Comfort, ECO, Sport, etc) you have the suspension, gearbox, steering and throttle response set to.

Beneath the screen a trio of eye-catching matt aluminium ringed air vents, set into a dramatic centre console that swoops elegantly down to form a broad armrest between the front seats. There’s a slightly different design for models with a manual gearbox because of the need to accommodate the gearlever – the gear control for the automatic is handily placed on the steering column – but both types have a clever touchpad, rotary control knob and other switches just ahead of the cubby/armrest between the front seats.

The touchpad operates much like a smartphone screen in that you can swipe and pinch with your fingers to control what’s appearing in the colour screen up at eye level. The touchpad will also recognise letters and numbers if you draw them out with your finger. The whole system – touchpad and screen – is daunting at first, but you should dedicate an hour or so to learning its foibles while parked on your driveway. It’s clever stuff and easy to use once you’ve learned how. 

Even the entry-level SE has Artico upholstery, Mercedes’ in-house synthetic leather upholstery. The idea of man-made leather may jar the first time you hear of it, but inside the C-Class Mk4 it’s not immediately easy to tell it from the real deal, and it makes the cabin look expensive. Original owners had a smorgasbord of interior options to choose from, including different colour (genuine) leather and eye-catching trim inserts, so take the time to view a few different interiors to check if there’s something you especially like the look of.

What’s on the equipment list?

The expression ‘entry-level’ usually means ‘basic’ or ‘cheap’ when it comes to cars, but that’s definitely not the case with the C-Class Mk4. The entry-level SE trim has 16-inch alloy wheels, Artico synthetic leather upholstery, dual-zone climate control, a reversing camera, an infotainment system with a large colour screen, DAB radio and Bluetooth, cruise control and automatic headlights and windscreen wipers. 

Move up to a Sport and there are 17-inch alloys, heated front sports seats, a parking assistance system with front and rear sensors, satnav, aluminium interior trim inserts, split-folding rear seats, LED headlights, and lowered ‘comfort’ suspension.

AMG Line gets much the same kit as the Sport, but has an even racier look and feel. The alloy wheels grow to 18-inch diameter, while exterior  and interior styling take their cues from the brand’s hardcore AMG high performance models. Elsewhere, there’s real leather upholstery and electrically folding door mirrors, plus a slightly firmer suspension set-up.

Standard across all models are a number of safety items, including seven airbags, on-board tyre pressure monitoring, driver fatigue warning (it can detect if you’re dropping off at the wheel), and emergency braking assistance that applies the brakes harder if it senses you’re performing an emergency stop. After the 2018 revamp, the braking assistance was extended to include pedestrian and cyclist detection at low speeds, and full autonomous braking.

The C-Class Mk4 is also available with the optional Driver Assistance Package. This includes blind-spot warning that alerts you to any vehicle pulling alongside, as well as lane-keeping assistance that gives a little nudge through the steering if you’re drifting out of your lane. Also included is adaptive cruise control that automatically maintains a safe distance to the car in front, as well as braking and accelerating the car and also performing a lane change while all you do is flick on the indicator. There’s also a system that detects if another car is about to run into the back of you, first triggering the rear hazard warning lights to alert them, then automatically tightening the seatbelts and locking the brakes on hard so that you (hopefully) aren’t pushed forwards into the car in front if the collisions does occur.

A popular option pack was Premium Plus, which added a panoramic glass sunroof, Burmester surround sound audio system, 360-degree camera coverage around the car for parking and safety systems, and keyless central locking and starting. Cars advertised as 4Matic feature the optional four-wheel drive system for all-weather capability, while those that have Airmatic feature the excellent optional air suspension. From May 2018 you could order the optional full digital instrumentation, a multi-function steering wheel with touch-sensitive controls for all the infotainment system’s functions, and a multi-contour front seats package with electro-pneumatic adjustment of the side bolsters and lumbar support, together with a massage function.

As mentioned earlier, when choosing a C-Class Mk4, put aside some time for an in-depth trawl through the features of the models on your shortlist.

How safe is the Mercedes C-Class Mk4?

When crash tested by the Euro NCAP safety organisation, the C-Class Mk4 achieved the maximum five star rating. It scored 92% for adult occupant protection, 84% for child occupants, 77% for pedestrian protection, and 70% for safety assistance systems. 

Among its standard safety equipment are seven airbags, electronic stability control, tyre pressure monitoring, driver fatigue warning, and emergency braking assistance. Optional safety equipment includes blind-spot monitoring, active lane-keeping assistance, adaptive cruise control able to brake to a standstill and then start moving again, rear cross-traffic assistance, and a pre-safe system that automatically tightens the seatbelts and applies the brakes if it detects that your car is about to be hit from behind.

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