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Mercedes C-Class review - can it take on the mighty 3 series?
The Mercedes C-Class boasts striking exterior looks and a sumptuous interior that proves Mercedes is most definitely back on top of its game. Looking like a shrunken S-Class, it's aimed squarely at being the most premium of the affordable executive saloons. An emphasis on technology as well as build quality and premium materials, leave it feeling fairly special on the inside.
In terms of dynamics, the C-Class offers a driving experience that befits its baby S-Class appearance. Decent steering feel is met with a car that is capable in most situations. But like many a Mercedes before it, when you start asking tough questions of the dynamics it doesn’t really yield up any meaningful answers. The C 450 AMG Sport 4Matic model rectifies this issue, however, if you can’t stretch to the awesome Mercedes-AMG C63.
If you can wait for a C-Class until summer 2016, you’d be best off choosing the C 450 AMG Sport 4Matic. Fitting in between AMG Line-equipped regular Mercs and the full-on Mercedes-AMG C 63, this 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged V6 develops 362bhp, 384lb ft and can hit 62mph from a standstill in just 4.9 seconds. The best news is that the C 450 manages to tread a fine line between the standard C-Class and the C 63 in terms of driver involvement.
Mid 2016 will see a full hybrid petrol-electric model join the Mercedes C-Class product line up. Called the C 350, it will be one of a couple of hybrid options lurking within the C-Class line up. Current recommendations for the eco-conscious include the C300 BlueTech Hybrid, which offers the best balance of economy and power.
It’s a mild diesel-electric hybrid, the 27hp supplementary motor housed in the 7G-Tronic transmission and working with the 2.1-litre combustion engine in 201bhp output. The C 300 can’t be used in fully electric mode above about 20mph, but the torque-fill provided by electric power ekes the most out of the C’s diesel reserves.
It’s also eerily brilliant when the C 300 seamlessly switches the combustion engine off and back on at A-road speeds when you momentarily come off the throttle and, although Mercedes’ 2143cc diesel can occasionally be a noisy operator, in the C 300 BlueTec it’s remarkably hushed. It’s probably the best-matched drivetrain for the C-Class’ laid-back chassis set-up.
Performance and 0-60 time > The Mercedes C350e petrol-eletric plug-in hybrid hits 62mph in 5.9sec and registers a top speed of 142mph. Read all about the Mercedes C-Class performance here
Engine and gearbox > AMG models aside, there’s only one purely petrol-engined model in the C-class line-up – the C200 – but several diesel and hybrid models. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard while a seven-speed automatic can be optioned. Read all about the Mercedes C-Class engine and gearbox here
Ride and handling > Tyre roar is superbly contained and the C-class generally negotiates British roads with aplomb, as you might expect. Read all about the Mercedes C-Class ride and handling here
MPG and running costs > The mainstay of the Mercedes range is more frugal than ever. AMG models aside, C-class combined fuel economy ranges from 62.8 to 72.4mpg with carbon dioxide emissions from 101 to 117g/km. Read all about the Mercedes C-Class MPG and running costs here
Prices, specs and rivals > The C-class range starts at £27,270, which is reasonable for a basic model that comes impressively specced as standard. Obvious rivals are BMW’s 3-series, Audi’s A4 and the Jaguar XE. Read all about the Mercedes C-Class prices, specs and rivals here
Interior and tech > The S-class-inspired interior boasts excellent fit and finish, a lavishly wide transmission tunnel and a full suite of electronic toys and gadgets. Read all about the Mercedes C-Class interior and tech here
Design > Were it our money we’d opt for an AMG Line C-class Estate painted in Brilliant Blue – understated, comfortable, practical and effortlessly handsome. Read all about the Mercedes C-Class design here