- We like...Roomy, a terrific drive
- We don't...Cabin dsn't feel special
Latest C is as solid as you'd want a Merc to be, but is now sharper to driveLife’s busy. Maybe you spend longer behind the wheel than you’d choose. It’s good for you, then, that the new C-class Mercedes just gets the job done. No flash, no fuss. It just takes you there quietly, comfortably.
The latest is the third to be badged a C, so in its past there’s 13 years of building classy, refined small cars. Most were a bit ho-hum to drive, though. Back then, if you wanted crisp steering and pinpoint responses more than anything else, you picked the C’s arch-rival, BMW’s 3-Series.
Search for used Mercedes C-classes in your area
But no more: this new small Merc comes close to BMW on its home turf. It steers with an alertness that wasn’t there before, while throttle and brakes respond with a delicacy that’s also new. Go for a Sport model if you want that fully dialled-in feel. The SE we tried trades a little accuracy for ride comfort.
What all keep from the past is that great sense of solidity, of feeling ‘planted’ on the road. Here this teams with a smooth ride and a hushed cabin. Both combine to take you hundreds of miles without you feeling one whit more hassled or tired than is absolutely necessary.
It is also a car, though, that drives as well, or as badly, as you do. Pay attention and there’s sensitivity and rare smoothness on tap. Lose focus and it’s too easy to ‘grab’ the brakes and jump the clutch from a standstill.
Its new shape is easy on the eye: classy but as understated as a small Mercedes should be. And it clothes a practical cabin that’s comfortable, while roomier than most, though a broad transmission hump in the floor makes life uncomfortable for a fifth occupant perched in the centre rear seat. The boot is well shaped and ample, though.
The dash is a let-down. It looks smart enough but the plastic used dsn’t look any better than you’d find in cars half as dear. Controls are big and solid. There’s a screen high on the centre of the dash, which hides behind a handy lid until needed. A chromed knob scrolls you through minor functions and the (optional) satellite navigation. It’s a fiddly bit of kit, though. And, while we’re griping, we’ll add the age-old moan about Mercs fitted with a manual gearbox and a US-style parking brake. There’s no handbrake: you anchor the car by pressing a pedal up and left from the clutch. To release, you tug a flap on the dash, low and to the right. Imagine trying that on a hill while exiting a tight parking space. There’s a gizmo that ‘holds’ the car for a moment once you’ve applied the brakes firmly, but it’s no substitute for a conventional handbrake.
You can spend lavishly on a high-end model but for us the value lies with this C200 K at just over £24,000. It’s willing, quick but keeps ownership costs sensible. If you’ve that much to spend, it’s among the best.
- 0-60 mph8.6sec
- Insurance groups14
Motors.co.uk value verdict: