What is it?
Mercedes has responded again to the challenge of the class-leading BMW 3-Series. It only recently facelifted the car. Now, it’s realigned trims, so the popular ‘sport’ look is now standard on all. Yes, for the first time ever, you can only have a stick-up three-pointed star on Merc’s junior exec if you pay extra. We don’t expect many to do so.
The trim revisions, which bring in more AMG-influenced packs, are intended to further move the C-Class away from its staid roots and become a more dynamic challenger to the BMW and Audi A4. We reckon Mercedes is onto something here: this is a rear-wheel drive car that’s been properly sorted and has a great range of petrol and diesel engines. Staid old Mercedes? Not anymore.
This C is exceptionally well damped and the body remains stable and composed no matter what you ask of it. Higher performance models get a bone-crushing ride, but the majority are supple without being soft. This is because Mercedes has spent a lot of time getting its new chassis just so, and the upshot is a major leap forward. The engine range offers plenty of choice too.
The steering has plenty of feel too, and whatever the finished product gives away to the ultimately sharper BMW 3-Series, it more than makes up in terms of superior comfort and refinement. This is a truly versatile product, capable of luxury, lunacy or a little bit of both.
On the inside
Another sizeable leap from the dark days of Merc’s past, the latest C’s interior is smart, functional and luxurious without ever seeming tacky. Soft-touch materials, finely finished detailing and clear, attractive instruments make this car feel every inch the premium product its price tag suggests it is. The centre console is still a bit cluttered, though, with Mercedes apparently reluctant to whole-heartedly embrace the single-touch control (such systems are being improved all the time by rivals like BMW and Audi). Too many buttons is a frustration for more tech-savvy buyers, but Merc needs to respect its silver-haired demographic too, and they like a button for every task.
The C-Class ought to be a joy to own, once you’ve got over the initial shock of paying for it. Reliability and quality are proving to be very impressive indeed and there are some tax-efficient and highly frugal diesels on offer that will make a sensibly specced C a very nice company car for the lucky few. Depreciation is amongst some of the lowest in this segment too, something that might make the daunting extra outlay over comparable rivals such as the A4 a little easier to stomach.