4.1 out of 5 4.1
Parkers overall rating: 4.1 out of 5 4.1

Stylish saloon has refined and upmarket feel

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon Review Video
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At a glance

New price £29,370 - £80,017
Lease from new From £337 p/m View lease deals
Used price £8,440 - £55,290
Fuel Economy 25.5 - 235.4 mpg
Road tax cost £0 - £475
Insurance group 23 - 49 How much is it to insure?
New

PROS

  • Comfortable and upmarket cabin
  • Smooth engines
  • Very comfortable
  • Best in class for comfort

CONS

  • Options can hike the price
  • Steering lacking feel
  • Servicing costs high
  • Getting long in the tooth

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon rivals

Written by Richard Kilpatrick on

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon has been on sale since 2014, with a subtle yet extensive facelift in 2018. Mercedes claims 6,500 components were changed or modified in the most recent facelift, but you wouldn't think it by looking at it – externally, the lights, grille and paint options are all that differentiate pre-2018 and current models.

Underneath, the changes are far more extensive, and the current C-Class is competitive despite the length of time it's been on sale. A common sight on UK roads, and a regular visitor into the UK Top 10 bestsellers list, the C-Class is popular new and used with the UK's drivers – it looks good, has cutting-edge safety kit, a luxurious interior and the draw of the three-pointed star prominent on the grille. Does that mean it's worth your attention?

It's safe and fully equipped with some of the technology you’ll find on the company flagship, the impressive Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Although it's been on sale for several years, the engines are cutting edge, with mild-hybrid tech in the C 200 and a refined 2.0-litre diesel.

When buying used, be aware that pre-2018 models are less advanced, despite the minimal changes in appearance.

What the C-Class is up against

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class is competing in a very tough market sector. It's a rival to the popular BMW 3 Series and Audi A4 – as well as the less obviously default choices, such as the Jaguar XEAlfa Romeo Giulia and Lexus IS. The C-Class is a comfortable and appealing alternative to its competitors, even if its interior quality lags behind the Audi's despite its posh look. It’s not lacking in tech, though, with an optional 12.3-inch digital display for the driver now added, which complements the centrally-mounted 10.0-inch infotainment screen.

It’s as cheap to run as the best, too, thanks to efficient diesel and petrol options in the mainstream models. If you do want something with a bit more poke, Mercedes has some high-performance options in the range to pick from.

The C-Class does have its faults, though. The poor manual gearbox is best avoided, and steering that’s lacking in feel keeps it from offering a truly sporty driving experience even in the more powerful models. If you want comfort in your compact saloon, come here – if it's driver involvement you crave, head in Jaguar, Alfa Romeo or BMW's direction.

What is the best version for you?

The C-Class' attributes include a huge wealth of equipment for both safety and luxury, a more transparent ownership proposition and a suite of optional extras that make this car feel every inch the baby S-Class. Two extras we’d urge any C-Class buyer to try before committing include the air suspension (which dramatically improves comfort levels), and the head-up display which shows sat-nav and speed limit information on the windscreen.

Though the entry-level is the S (or SE if you want more than 156hp), the Sport is really the best starting point for the C-Class. You get larger 18-inch wheels, multibeam LED headlights (a hugely desirable addition), parking sensors, lowered suspension, and an appealing interior package as standard. Even then, the majority of cars you’ll see on the road are AMG Line models with a desirable sporty body kit and sharper look, plus more sophisticated interior trim.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class engines

Remove the badges, and the C-Class you're about to overtake could have 156hp. Ot it could have 510hp (though the C 63 S does stand out a little bit). Petrol engines span 1.6-litre in the C 180, to the 4.0-litre V8 of the aforementioned C 63 S. There's also a choice of plug-in or mild hybrid models.

If you prefer diesel there's one engine - but in three states of tune, including one hybrid version. The 2.0-litre twin-turbo four-cylinder offers 194, 245 or 306hp (combined) and ample torque. All except the C 180 come with a nine-speed automatic transmission - the six-speed manual is not a high-point of C-Class ownership. Full details of the power and performance figures for all engines can be found in the Engines section of this review. 

The C-Class is best specified with an automatic gearbox (which you don’t have much choice over as all come with a nine-speed auto transmission anyway), but the entry-level C 200 d is available with a manual gearbox if you really want. A C 300 h hybrid and C 350 e plug-in hybrid were added to the range before the car’s 2018 facelift, too, which will be of particular appeal to company car drivers. These are expected to be replaced with a diesel-electric plug-in hybrid with the updated range.

Lightweight, aerodynamic design

Some 100kg lighter than its predecessor, Mercedes-Benz claims the fourth-generation C-Class has the lightest bodyshell of the segment, helped largely by the increased use of aluminium. Weight loss played a key part in the design process and CO2 emissions have been reduced over the outgoing model as a result, with some pleasingly low figures from the C 200 d. 

Well made and full of technology inside

Sharing much of its interior design with the larger E- and S-Class saloons, the C-Class is luxurious inside certainly looks every inch the premium saloon. Although, probe a little deeper and spend more time in the car and the quality doesn’t always live up to the look.

It doesn’t feel as solid as the Audi A4 inside. As well as featuring some of the advanced technologies available in the S-Class, the C-Class comes complete with Merc’s latest infotainment systems and driver assistance tech, with the usual scroll wheel and touchpad for controlling the majority of the car’s functions.

Built into the hand rest on the central control panel, the touchpad enables drivers to control all the functions in the same way we use smartphones and tablets. It also allows letters and numbers to be entered using the handwriting recognition tool – similar to the set-ups you see on BMW and Audi cars.

Dealwatch special

Our leasing partner, ZenAuto is offering the Mercedes C-Class for £337 per month. The usual terms and conditions apply.*

View deal

Click through the next few pages to read everything you need to know about the Mercedes-Benz C-Class including its practicality, how much it costs to run, what it's like to drive – and whether we recommend buying one.

*These deals are indicative examples of some packages available as of 20 April 2020 but are subject to change without prior notice. Everyone's financial circumstances are different, and the availability of credit is subject to status. Terms, conditions and exclusions apply. Parkers cannot recommend a deal for you specifically. Bauer Consumer Media Limited is an appointed representative of ZenAuto Limited for the broking of regulated hire agreements. ZenAuto Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. ZenAuto Limited's registered office is Number One, Great Exhibition Way, Kirkstall Forge, Leeds LS5 3BF. ZenAuto Limited's company registration number is 10967345. ZenAuto is the trading name of ZenAuto Limited. Terms, conditions and exclusions apply.


Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon rivals

Other Mercedes-Benz C-Class models: