Parkers overall rating: 3.9 out of 5 3.9
  • Sublime interior
  • Not many physical buttons
  • Very tech-heavy

How is the quality and layout?

Too often you’ll hear about a car manufacturer’s smaller models being ‘just like a mini limousine’. In the case of the C-Class, it’s closer than you might think, as Mercedes-Benz has taken inspiration from its new S-Class flagship in designing the interior. That means the cabin’s dominated by a vast 11.9-inch portrait-oriented touchscreen in the centre console, with a 12.9-inch digital instrument display for driving information.

The whole affair looks quite intimidating at first, but is reassuringly easy to use. As far as quality and design go, it’s very impressive – most controls feel solid and well-damped, all of the materials you touch regularly have that reassuring density we all like in an executive car and the overall look is rather less staid than in this car’s main rivals.

That said, it’s not perfect. The stalks behind the steering wheel feel a little flimsy with the one for the indicators twanging slightly when they self cancel. We also found the hard plastics lower down the interior to look shiner and therefore cheaper than what you’d find in the BMW 3 Series.

Infotainment and tech

That huge centre display is responsible for plenty besides just the sat-nav. It’s not quite as feature-rich as the S-Class, but it’s still very high-quality – bright, crisp, clear and responsive to the touch. In fact, it’s perhaps the first time that touchscreen climate controls haven’t made us want to tear our hair out in frustration, perhaps because the onscreen buttons are so big and easy to hit.

Having the display in a portrait format is also wonderful when you’re using the sat-nav, as it gives a greater view of the route ahead. Mercedes-Benz’s ‘augmented reality’ navigation can be optioned here, which displays your turning atop a feed from the car’s front camera in either the centre screen or the instrument panel. There’s also a high-quality head-up display, though it does contain rather an overwhelming amount of information.

Also slightly confusing to use at first are the new touch-sensitive steering wheel controls. These add a lot of functionality to the wheel and allow you to navigate both screens, but it’s rather difficult to scroll through until your thumbs get the hang of how they need to slide across the panels. Even then, you can accidentally trigger something when you’re twirling the wheel.

We also found that the centre touchscreen is positioned at a shallow angle which made some of the onscreen information quite hard to read in sunny conditions. If you don’t want to use Mercedes-Benz’s own infotainment, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are present, and there’s a standard wireless phone charging pad that handily keeps your phone out of sight so you’re not tempted to glance at it while on the move.

The Mercedes-Benz voice assistant is present and correct, and ever-improving with each update. We still can’t find too much of a use for these assistants beyond changing the radio station or perhaps asking for a petrol station while you’re on the move, but if you must have one, this is as good as any rival.

As for driving tech, there’s the usual complement of adaptive cruise control, active steering assistance, self-parking and autonomous safety systems. These can really take the stress out of motorway travel and parking.

A final feather in the Mercedes-Benz’s cap is the optional Burmester sound system, which is powerful, clear, and made everything from Cardi B to Jurassic Park sound fantastic.

Is it comfortable?

  • Seats: Yes
  • Ride: No
  • Big wheels don’t help

Mercedes has nailed the visual appearance of the C-Class. It looks great and it has a flash interior. This is what most of the UK public wants. If you’re not most people and you prioritise comfort over anything else, you may well be disappointed with the C-Class.

We’ll start with the good. The seats are comfortable, with plenty of adjustment. Wind, road, and engine noise are kept to a hush. Yes, the diesel engines do pipe up a bit if you strain them but this is a very minor complaint.

Our main gripe with the C-Class comes from its hard suspension. This can be felt most acutely at low speeds. Going over speedbumps with the 19-inch wheels on our test car sent harsh vibrations through the seats. 

It’s the same story for 30mph roads, where many of the road imperfections are passed on to the driver.

Things do get better at motorway speeds. The C-Class does a much better job of smoothing out road imperfections when you’re travelling at faster speeds.