Mercedes-Benz C-Class Review

Find out more about the Mercedes-Benz C-Class in the latest MOTORS Review

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Out of 5


  • Excellent levels of technology
  • Strong brand heritage
  • Involving, sporty driving experience


  • Some cars suffered build quality issues
  • High purchase price
  • Can be costly to run and repair

The Mercedes C-Class was first introduced in 1993, and since then has gone through sizeable changes. It’s now in its fourth incarnation, and has grown sizeably since that first car hit the market.

Set in the compact executive segment, the C-Class has to fend off competition from accomplished rivals like the Jaguar XE and BMW 3 Series. The C-Class has always been able to offer strong levels of luxury, which has worked in its favour to draw customers away from other offerings.

The C-Class is undeniably a Mercedes. Sharing many styling cues with the larger cars above it in the range, it’s a stylish car to look at – while the prominent three-pronged star at the front of the car ensure there’s no way of mistaking it for another brand. New cars feature a design language seen on many other Mercedes, which means that despite owning one of the smaller cars in the range, you can see the lineage throughout the series.

Fitted with a range of petrol and diesel engines, it’s easy to find a C-Class to suit you. There’s also a fire-spitting AMG version sitting at the top of the range, which means that there’s certainly an offering for those looking for a performance model. There’s now a hybrid and four-wheel-drive offering, too.

If you’re looking for an extremely stylish version, Mercedes also offer a convertible version of the C-Class, meaning that you can have all of the luxury associated with the standard car, but accompanied by that wind-in-your-hair experience.

Latest model

The latest model C-Class was launched in 2014, offering buyers better levels of standard equipment, as well as improved efficiency from a series of new engines. The new car utilised more aluminium and high-tensile steel than the one it replaced, making it lighter and more efficient.

Taking styling cues from the high-end S-Class, the C-Class certainly brought luxury to the masses, while better levels of refinement ensured that it could back up these looks with a relaxing drive, too. Even those cars specified with AMG Line trim, which brings with it stiffer suspension, are still perfectly compliant on UK roads.

A new six-speed manual gearbox was introduced with this latest generation, giving drivers the option of swapping cogs themselves. You still get the option of specifying the car as a saloon, estate or coupe as well.

Value for money

Though expensive to buy, most C-Class’ do offer plenty in terms of standard equipment. Currently, there are four standard trim levels – SE, Sport and AMG Line. There’s also the range-topping Mercedes-AMG cars, though these are far more than just a trim, and have had significant mechanical changes made to them. Coupe cars have just two lines – Sport and AMG Line.

Previous-generation cars are generously equipped, which means that they make a smart used buy. Because of this level of equipment, however, prices remain high - and you’ll be looking at over £13,000 for a diesel 2013 model with under 60,000 miles on the clock. Newer models are on the used market now, though of course you’ll pay a premium for these. Even a base C 200 will command one excess of £16,500, which may make choosing an older model a more sensible idea if you’re looking for a car with plenty of toys.

Looks and image

The C-Class has always remained a rather stylish character, offering understated looks that link to the rest of the Mercedes line-up. The most recent example of these is available on the used market, though because of its up-to-date looks, these are still commanding a considerable premium - even with high mileage. Previous generation cars still look current, and also offer plenty in the way of standard equipment.

The C-Class was always able to offer a comfortable and composed ride, and this remains true of new models. AMG Line cars are significantly firmer, so if you’re after all-out comfort, you may want to pick a different specification.

The latest cars also haven't changed much in design since its first came out in 2014, which means that even a used purchase will look just as fresh on the road as a just-from-the-factory example.

Space and practicality

The C-Class has offers its owners plenty of practicality. In saloon cars, you get 480 litres of space, which is more than enough for a family. However, if you’re looking for even better storage, then the estate version is the one to go for. Though this only offer 10 litres more room with the seats up, it rises to an impressive 1,510 litres with the rear seats folded down.

In terms of in-car space, the C-Class does well. There’s good amounts of legroom and headroom in the rear, while those up front are well catered for as well. For some reason headroom is affected with estate cars, which means if you’re looking to transport taller passengers frequently, this may not be the choice for you.

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In terms of petrol engines, there’s just one – a 2.0-litre turbocharged. This sits in the majority of base-specification cars and, if you’re looking to do more miles, may be one to steer clear of. This engine does, however, sit alongside a 81bhp electric motor in the C 350e plug-in hybrid so if you want exceptionally low running costs, this isn’t a bad choice.

If it’s a diesel you’re after, then there’s a fair amount to choose from. There’s a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder unit that sits within the C 200d, as well as a 2.1-litre engine – this produces either 168bhp in the C 220d, or 201bhp in the C 250d. Indeed, though the name on the car’s boot may change, it’s likely to be using one of two engines – just in different states of tune.

There’s also two AMG models – the C63 and C43. The former is powered by a 4.0-litre biturbo V8 engine, while the latter utilises a turbocharged V6. Both offer exceptional levels of performance, as well as a huge amount of character.

Running costs

If you’re looking to keep running costs low, then a diesel engine remains a solid choice. Whereas the base petrol returns 53.3mpg, the 1.6-litre diesel in the C 200d will see you achieve around 72.4mpg. Even the larger 2.1-litre diesel will do 64.2mpg combined, meaning that trips to the pump will be relatively few and far between. Emissions are also lower for the oil-burners, with the 1.6-litre emitting 101g/km CO2, and the 2.1-litre 112g/km. The base petrol will emit 123g/km CO2.

If you’re looking for the best efficiency, the powerful AMG models may not be the wisest choice. The C 43 will achieve 35.3mpg with the C 63 model returning 34.4mpg, which is respectable given the performance they offer, but not ideal if you’re looking to keep running costs down. The price of insurance will also be much higher for these models.

Things to look out for

Unfortunately, the C-Class has gained a reputation for poor reliability, with many owners reporting issues with their cars relatively soon after purchase. However, this is counterbalanced with good levels of interior quality and practicality, as well as an involving drive.

Mid ‘90s cars did suffer from rust issues - as did many Mercedes cars of this era. Many cars of this generation also had issues with MAF sensors. Failure of this mass airflow sensor can cause a drop in power and because of this, a drop in acceleration. The sensor monitors how much air passes and the temperature of the air, and after doing so can adjust the fuel injection system to adjust the mixture of fuel and air to compensate colder weather conditions. These sensors should be changed every 50,000 miles, so ensure that any used car you buy has had this work done.

Third-generation cars are also prone to headlight malfunction caused by moisture ingress. Even replacing the bulb may not completely solve the issue, as water may still find its way into the unit.


There are rivals such as the ever-conquering BMW 3 Series, as well as the Audi A4 and Volkswagen Passat. An upcoming rival is also coming in the form of the Alfa Romeo Giulia, which gives a left-field option to those looking to stand out from the crowd.

The Mercedes remains a solid choice in this company. It’s well made, nice to look at and offers a good level of standard equipment even in base specification. Other rivals may offer slightly more in terms of interior space, but it’s the C-Class that stands out as a truly premium offering.

Depreciation warning

Mercedes cars, when properly maintained, do exceptionally well in terms of depreciation. When well-specced they tend to do well in the used market, though those cars in base trims or without key options - such as satellite navigation - won’t be as residually strong. Those cars fitted with AMG Line trim are in demand too, which will mean that their prices on the used market remain high.

Trims explained

Here are the range of trims for a Mercedes-Benz C-Class:

AMG Line

One of the most popular trims levels is AMG Line. This adds a muscular bodykit to the car, as well as larger wheels and lower, stiffer suspension.

It’s also a sought-after trim level in the used market, with these cars experiencing strong residuals.


There’s still a lot of equipment on offer with this specification however, with electric windows fitted along with automatic climate control and DAB digital radio.

You also get Bluetooth connectivity as standard, ensuring that integrating your phone to the car’s system shouldn’t be a worry.


This still features a raft of standard equipment, including ambient lighting under the wing mirrors – which are electrically adjustable and heated – as well as rain-sensing windscreen wipers.

Inside, the car receives electric windows, satellite navigation and a DAB digital radio.


  1. Higher-spec cars command a higher premium on the used car market
  2. Strong maintenance records needed for used examples
  3. AMG Line brings distinctive look, but firmer ride
  4. Diesel powetrains offer the best in terms of economy
  5. High-powered AMG version are available for those looking for top-level performance
  6. Rust issues can affect earlier models
  7. Estate versions do have impeded headroom
  8. Hybrid versions are available for very low running costs
  9. Metallic paint examples retain more value after sale
  10. Still manages to stand out against rivals

Alternative models

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