2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class saloon review – better than an Audi A4? | What Car?

2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class saloon review – better than an Audi A4? | What Car?


It’s a tale as old as time, if you want
a junior executive saloon car you’ll either have a BMW 3 Series, an Audi A4 or this, the
Mercedes-Benz C-Class. That story is changing though because these days the C-Class doesn’t
just have its German rivals to worry about, it’s also got to defend itself against Jaguar’s
XE , smaller cars from the class below such as Audi’s A3 saloon and even justify itself
against good value rivals from the class above, cars like the BMW 5 Series. To compensate,
Mercedes has given this C-Class a really stylish interior and a driver experience focused on
comfort. So is it all worth it or these days is the C-Class outshone by stronger competition?
That’s what we’ll answer in this review starting with how it handles on UK roads. There’s a staggering amount of choice when it comes to engines in this C-Class saloon.
It all kicks off with the C200 petrol then there’s a trio of diesels badged at a C200,
a C220 and C250 Bluetec’s and even petrol electric and diesel electric hybrids and then
if that isn’t enough, you’ve also got a sporty C43 version and even range topping
C63 and C63 S performance saloons too. Here we’re driving the C250 Bluetec diesel which
has more power than a recommended C220, it certainly feels more punchy but unfortunately
it’s no more refined and that means there’s plenty of noise and vibration coming into
the interior. Overall the C220 is a better bet because it has enough power to keep you
moving swiftly but is also fairly kind on running costs. The C-Class isn’t as inspiring
to drive as its rivals from BMW, Audi or Jaguar. This steering has an inconsistent weighting
and there’s quite a lot of body roll through corners plus none of the standard suspension
set ups delivers a particularly comfortable ride. Things do improve if you opt for the
AIRMATIC air suspension though even then the C-Class still crashes over potholes. On this
C-Class we’ve got a smooth shifting, 9 speed automatic gearbox. Now the gearbox itself
can take care of most of the work very easily but you can take control using these paddles
behind the steering wheel, so if you do find yourself on a lonely, long country road then
you can have a bit of fun. You can chose from 1 of 5 different driving modes using this
button here on the centre console. You can chose from Comfort, Sport, Sport Plus, an
Individual mode and an Eco mode although in truth, the changes they make are really minor.
We find it’s best to leave the car in comfort which seems more suited to its nature. This
interior is certainly very nice and even taller drivers should have no trouble getting comfortable
thanks to this driver’s seat which adjusts electrically and in this case the drivers
controls are all here on the doors so there’s no reaching down to the side of the seat unless
you want to find the lumbar support. There’s also this steering wheel which again adjusts
electrically on this car for height as well as for reach. There’s a good view out the
front of the C-Class but looking out of the rear is hampered by those thick rear pillars
and that relatively small rear window. Fortunately, every C-Class comes with a reversing camera
as standard and if you go for a sport model then you also get front and rear parking sensors.
You can also opt for a self parking system which can do the job for you. Now what’s
really nice about this interior is the way it looks and it certainly looks better than
the more conservatively styled options you’ll find in the Audi A4 or BMW 3 Series. Go for
a range topping AMG line model and you also get this imitation leather here on top of
the dashboard, another nice touch but as you start to prod and feel your way around the
C-Class’ cabin, you start to realise that it’s not as well put together as its German
rivals. Every C-Class up to the range topping C63 get’s this 7 inch screen mounted high
up on the dashboard and it’s controlled by this rotary dial and touch pad combination
here on the centre console. Now if you go for a sport or AMG line version then as standard
you get a relatively crude Garmin sat nav but we recommend upgrading to Mercedes own
command system which gets you a much greater, clearer display. Its features include DAB
radio and there are 2 USB inputs here under the centre armrest. So let’s see how easy
it is to use, starting with how to pair my mobile phone via Bluetooth. Now Bluetooth
is already turned on on my mobile phone so if I navigate back to telephone and I’m
going to connect a device, Bluetooth is turned on on my mobile and we’re going to search
for phones. So there we go, the search has begun, let’s see how long it takes and how
many other phones are in this area. There we go it has found my phone, so let’s see
how long it takes to connect. Yes that passkey matches so we’ll select yes, connecting
profiles and.. Wait for it, there we go, we’re connected and that means I can use many of
the features of my phone without taking my eyes off the road and that’s obviously very
important. So now I can put my phone away and we’ll see how easy it is to set a destination
in the sat nav. So I’m going to use this rotary dial to navigate to the Navi menu and
then we’re going to select a destination. There’s destination and I’m going to enter
an address. So I’m going to select town and as ever I’m going to aim for our offices
in Twickenham. Now, I’m going to use this touch pad system and this is much like the
Audi A4 or 3 Series, it can recognise your handwriting. So if I start writing the word
‘Twickenham’ we’ll see how long it takes it, oh we’ve got a ‘Please wait’ already!
So T, W, I, C, there we go it’s found Twickenham straight away, I’m going to select okay
and continue, we’ll just aim for the centre. As you can hear, the route is being calculated
and there we go, very quickly, very simple to use and once it’s mapped up it’s actually
a very clear display and once you’ve got this in front of you, you can even have navigation
instructions relayed to this drivers display right in the middle of these dials, so that
means you don’t even have to take your eyes off the road to look at them. There’s enough
space to stretch out here in the front of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, even if you’re
a taller adult. There’s plenty of legroom and headroom even if you go for this optional
panoramic glass roof. There’s a good amount of storage space on offer too with wide door
pockets, a decent cubby beneath this centre armrest and a cupboard area at the base of
the dashboard plus as usual, there’s a glovebox too. Move to
the rear seats of the C-Class and things do get a bit more cramped and if you’re anything
like me, sitting 3 adults back here, you will be quite limited on space. Two 6 footers though
should be fine because you do still get quite a large amount of legroom. Although a word
of warning, anybody relegated to this middle seat will have this quite high transmission
tunnel to deal with which will limit your legroom. You do get some fairly nifty storage
solutions though because each passenger gets their own pocket here in the door and also
a smallholder in the back of the seat in front of you. In terms of boot space, the C-Class
is on par with the BMW 3 Series and that means you should easily be able to get a set of
golf clubs in here or some weekend shopping without any trouble. If you do need to extend
this space further though then you can get folding down seats so that means if you pull
on these handles you can then move the seats down. So you just fold these seats down nice
and easy and then you’ve got a large, relatively flat space which should be big enough for
anything that you’re thinking of moving. As you might expect, the C-Class is priced
competitively next to the BMW 3 Series and it makes good sense as a company car, especially
if you go for a manual gearbox because that gets you lower CO2 emissions than many of
its direct rivals. The official fuel economy figures stack up well too, as does the C-Class’
resale values in fact it continues to be good news right down to equipment because even
entry level SE models get alloy wheels, leather seats, climate and cruise controls and a reversing
camera. For our money though, we’d upgrade to sport trim which brings extras including
Sat Nav, full LED headlights, heated front sport seats and all round parking sensors.
You can pay more for AMG line trim but the mainly cosmetic changes it brings doesn’t
justify its higher price tag. Every C-Class gets automatic emergency braking as standard
and when it was last tested by Euro NCAP in 2014 it achieved the full 5 stars. There is
plenty to like about the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, its interior looks very stylish and its low
CO2 emissions and generous standard equipment only sweeten the deal. Ultimately we still
prefer the more well rounded A4 in this market but the C-Class is a very credible alternative.
Now for plenty more on the mercedes-Benz C-Class, including our full online review, head to
WhatCar.com and never miss another video by clicking subscribe and remember if you’re
in the market for a Mercedes C-Class we can help save you money on your next car, just
head to WhatCar.com and click on our ‘New Car Deals’ section.

About the Author: Michael Flood

46 Comments

  1. How reliable is this car and what about service maintenance costs? So far none of the German brands can beat Japanese or Korean rivals. We don't talk about branding image.

  2. How you feel about the interior of this car is your opinion, as these things are subjective. you should not choose one over the other, let the viewers make their own decision.

  3. Wonderful review. I really appreciate you pointing out the subpar interior build quality! Some people get so caught up in being a fanboy if Mercedes and they forget to objectively critique and review it. Keep up the good work!

  4. Such a janky car… Very quick and simple to use naviagation from the 90s…. A bit unrefined. Not very smooth over the bumps… Common just say it, its loud, uncomfortable, small and just not very 'premium'. At this level you are just buying a badge… VAG would be a better option I think..

  5. From what I have heard, the C-Class isn't refined enough for motorway driving to be taken seriously in this class of car. I will wait for the next model to arrive.

  6. Why are they reviewing this old car? Isn't there a 2018 model about to come out. Mercedes have upped their game now and by all accounts a lot of the negatives have been addressed in the new model.

  7. Tesla Model 3 is the best and has the most spacious rear passenger room, so you could actually seat five passengers comfortably instead of being cramped in the A4 or c class.

  8. So what you are saying is that the VW Passat is better than a C-Class. That made me choke more than Audi's emissions.

  9. Having owned both a 3 series and C Class I don’t know where you get off on your comments about diesel rattle and vibration. The C Class is way ahead of the 3 series in that respect. It has a vastly superior interior in quality and appearance terms. No it doesn’t handle as well as a 3 series but when do you get a chance to throw a car around like that in Britain’s crowded roads. As others have pointed out your car is also on the optional 19” wheels so the ride is bound to be firm but it’s still softer than the ride in a BMW with runflats. So pleased with it I just bought my 2nd C Class

  10. It amuses me when people expect a Merc to win, just because it's a Merc. When will they realise they're not engineered like they used to be.

  11. This car looks like a box on wheels and seems soooo boring. But that doesn't matter because there are enough fools who will just buy it for the badge.

  12. As somebody who has owned 2 3 series and 4 C Class's the Mercs are much better. When he says that the driving modes don't make much difference that tells me that he was biased before he started this review. The different driving modes totally change the characteristics of the car.

    I currently have a c250 4Matic AMG and it is a joy to drive and own. Build quality is great and not as bad as he makes it out to be. It is fast and handles all sorts of driving conditions well.

    In recent times I have had the displeasure of driving an A4 and a 5 series. I'll stick to my C Class for another 3 years and then get another brand new one.

  13. No change in different drive mode's, dude, you'r full of sh*t. Bad steering? wtf :')

    The first car in the segment to come with optional airmatic. The changes between comfortable and sport+ are IMMENSE, especially with airmatic, and here comes this guy…

    I have watched almost every review on this car in all four languages I speak, and this is the first time I hear this utter BS.

  14. Amg suspension is stiff…try airmatic..iys not another car more comfortable in its segment then the Cclass especialy with air suspension

  15. The c class interior is wayyyy nicer than the bmw. and i would wager its the best in class hands down. They keep alot of materials from higher level models as well. since 2014 mercedes have been at the top of the game when it comes to quality interiors.

  16. lmao you prefer the A4.. just on interior quality and styling on the exterior and interior the c class blows the audi out of the water. The c 300 actually looks very nice and elegant compared to the newer model a4s that look like a plain old boxy sedan. it blends in with hondas and fords lol. One thing ill say is the audis upgraded instrument panel that is all digital is amazing. until mercedes puts the e class and s class's display the audi wins on that front for sure.

  17. Should I wait another year to buy a 2015 c class? I'm trying to time the depreciation right! Any opinions on buying a used 2015c300 ?

  18. The driving modes completely change the feel of the car. The new C feels like a mimi S class which is suitable for normal size people, but in comparing the Audi 4 to the Benz that is not a reliable review, Benz is more luxurious and gives me variations from sport and comfort to please all styles of driving, even the 3 series’s is a sleeker driving feel, so get a merc or a bmw.

  19. Merc all day long.. Going from comfort mode to sport or sport +… Doesn't make a difference.. Are you having a laugh.. It's neck breaking.. This lard arse must drive a BMW

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