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Mercedes C-Class Review

8 / 10
15 February 2024

Luxury saloons don't have to be the preserve of the rich. Mercedes has become a master of paring its posh features down into a more compact platform.

Spending just a few minutes on board the C-Class will see your pulse rate drop and your rear end sink a little further into its supportive seats. All that's before you've even taken the time to have a poke around its high-tech infotainment setup.

What we like:
  • Calm, easy driving experience
  • Decent passenger and cargo space
  • High-tech infotainment system
What we don't like:
  • Expensive to buy
  • Some iffy material choices
  • Petrol engines noisy when thrashed

Should I buy a Mercedes C-Class?

Posh saloons are Mercedes' bread and butter, so there's a lot of pressure on the latest C-Class to live up to the brand's high bar. Especially when the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4 can basically match the car with the three-pointed star blow for blow.

Thankfully, the C-Class's report card is strong with high scores across a lot of areas. It's comfortable on the move and easy to drive, its cabin is large enough that rear passengers won't be cursing their luck, and there's more tech on display than the bridge of the Starship Enterprise.

However, with some of Mercedes' recent efforts being criticised for having a little more style than substance, does the C-Class do anything to dispel that image? We'll poke and prod our way through this car to help you decide if it's the best posh saloon for you.

Don't forget, there's also the super-practical Mercedes C-Class Estate, which adds a larger cargo area and taller boot opening to the equation.

Interior and technology

On first inspection, the C-Class's interior feels like business as usual for the brand. There's lots of leather and soft-touch trim used in the upholstery and panelling, along with a few details that immediately position the C-Class as a little posher than most rivals. You'll appreciate the fact that genuine metal is used for the window switches and the three pod-like vents that protrude from the dash top like a classic Italian sports car.

It's not a clean sweep, however. We don't like the big sculpted plastic panel that forms the dashboard structure, for example. It both looks and feels cheap, and that impression is made worse by the weird faux-carbon-fibre effect that's been printed on the surface, looking more like an amateur paint job than a luxury car.

Plus, there are still a few too many creaks from cabin trim pieces in a car at this price point. It's not as bad as its chintzy predecessor and probably won't bother you in day-to-day driving but, compared to its direct rivals and Mercedes of old, it's still a little disappointing.

At least the infotainment system makes up for some of those sins. All models get the same big, square screen in the middle, joined by a widescreen unit behind the steering wheel for the driver. Mercedes' MBUX infotainment software is fast and feature packed, although we think the graphics have a habit of looking a bit busy, making them tricky to understand at a glance.


While saloon buyers expect a certain level of practicality, it's not the single most important aspect like it may be for SUV or people carrier buyers.

What the C-Class does deliver, however, is enough practicality to put it in direct contention with the rest of the class. That means there's good passenger space up front, with lots of seat adjustment for really tall drivers.

There's also a respectable amount of space in the rear. A tall adult can sit behind another tall adult without bumping their knees on the seat back – that said, the rear passenger won't have lots of surplus space to luxuriate in.

Saloon models have enough cargo space for a couple of big suitcases but the traditional boot opening makes access a little tricky. The C-Class Estate is much better in this regard, with more space than the Audi A4 Avant estate as well as a low load lip and far easier access.

Engines and performance

All C-Class engines now include some degree of hybridisation – mild-hybrid tech for the regular petrol and diesel engines, as well as a plug-in-hybrid version.

Most buyers will be well served by the C200 petrol. This 1.5-litre turbo unit makes more than 200hp and feels relaxed in most driving situations, only disturbing the peace with a bit of a harsh rasp when you ask for full throttle. From there, you can upgrade to the C300 petrol for much beefier performance or the C300e plug-in hybrid to gain the ability to drive around 60 miles on electricity alone.

Diesel engines remain popular with C-Class buyers. The 200hp C220d feels strong at all speeds, making it easy to recommend for long-distance drivers. You can also upgrade to the 265hp C300d, which blends the low-down muscle you get from a diesel engine with more frantic top-end performance.

Driving and comfort

C-Class drivers don't expect a sports-car experience when they get buckled up, but they still expect a competent, well-judged drive. Thankfully, the C-Class doesn't disappoint with light-yet-quick steering and an agile front end that masks the car's substantial weight. Stability is beyond reproach, like its BMW and Audi rivals, which makes motorways melt away, but the Mercedes also has a softer edge that sees it flow over bumps with more absorption.

Throw the car at a twisty back road and it'll cope with whatever you subject it to. You just don't get the sense that there's a playful chassis underneath, like you might with the BMW 3 Series or Alfa Romeo Giulia. However, settle back in the comfy seat and turn the wick down a little, and you'll find the C-Class is an easy car to cover long distances in.

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