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Mercedes C-Class review - can it take on the mighty 3 series?
Mercedes' revised approach to interior and exterior design is put to great use in the new C-Class. Boasting striking looks and a sumptuous interior, it looks like a shrunken S-Class. C-Class buyer's now have a choice of four different body styles: saloon, estate, coupe and cabriolet.
Comfort and refinement are the C-Class’s best attributes. Its miniature S-Class looks are backed up with a quality, luxurious interior, and best-in-class driver assistance and safety tech.
In terms of out-right dynamics is where the C-Class falls behinds its rivals slightly. To gain such high levels of comfort and security, feedback and involvement have suffered.
That’s not to say the C-Class isn’t a competent car, just some of its rivals are marginally more fun.
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The old pick of the range, the C450 AMG Sport 4Matic, has now been promoted to a proper AMG called the C43 4Matic. If you can’t quite stretch to a full-fat C63, then it’s a good compromise. But don’t expect the C43 to be mini C63, far from it. Consider it a bigger, more grown-up A45 and you won’t go far wrong.
Aside from the AMG models, the C300 Coupe is the most powerful non-hybrid C-Class with 242bhp. Sadly though, the C300 has to make do with the older, inferior seven-speed auto; Mercedes’ latest nine speed auto, the 9G-Tronic ‘box, is a vast improvement.
The Mercedes C-Class line up now has a full plug-in, petrol-electric hybrid model. Called the C350e, it is one of a couple of hybrid options lurking within the C-Class range.
Current recommendations for the eco-conscious include the C300h, which offers the best balance of economy and power. It’s a diesel-electric hybrid, the 27bhp supplementary motor housed in the 7G-Tronic transmission and working with the 2.1-litre combustion engine in 201bhp output. The C300h 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 C300h 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 C300h 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