When you choose a car, you make your choice based on a number of factors. For many of us, one of those is the price of the car. For others, it’s the size and number of seats it have, particularly if you are after a family car. And for the select few, who have a bigger budget at hand or know what they want, one of the biggest factors is what the car says about you. If this factor is one that has been playing on your mind, then you are likely to want a statement or executive car.
Beloved by professionals, statement cars have been designed to have excellent all-round performance with looks and styling that screams how successful you are. One of the finest examples of this type of vehicle is the Mercedes C-Class.
The Mercedes C-Class first arrived on the market back in 1993, where it was introduced to replace the 190 range of vehicles. Until 1997, the C-Class was the smallest of the Mercedes model until their entry into the small hatchback market the A-Class was launched.
Built at the Mercedes-Benz factories in Sindelfingen and Bremen, the car has gone through four generations to reach the point it’s at today, with the most recent model launching in 2014.
The most recent generation of Mercedes C-Class comes in four different types. There is the Saloon option, Estate option, Cabriolet option and the Coupe option.
The Mercedes C-Class has undergone a massive change in the way it looks since the early models. When first introduced, the C-Class retained the blocky, square look that was synonymous with Mercedes at the time. Now the car is almost unrecognisable.
Instead of the blocky square edges, the C-Class has lots of curves. That’s in part because of the way car safety has improved to the point where crumple zones and impact protection, but also improvements in aerodynamics and production techniques. The result is a simply stunning looking car, no matter which of the 4 types you choose from.
At the front, you have that iconic Mercedes grille and headlight combination that makes it instantly recognisable as a car from this maker, with or without the logo on the grille. Those lines run up the bonnet and then go off in directions dependant on the type. In the coupe, they flow up the windscreen and then down a narrow back, a shape that screams speed. For the estate, it’s a lot more practical, with the look bigger and slightly bulkier to add to the space inside. And with the cabriolet, well the lines stop for the retractable roof.
While each class has subtle differences, you’re guaranteed to have a highly attractive vehicle.
So how does the car drive? Well the Mercedes C-Class is best suited for the home of the modern professional – on long stretches of motorway or navigating city streets. It’s not been built for travelling through the countryside. No, you can tell that it’s made for the autobahn, where you can put your foot down and get to a decent cruising speed. As a result, you get a much more comfortable suspension, making it one of the smoothest drives in its class. The upgraded cruise control makes those long journeys even better, with you able to let the car keep the ride smooth and steady in the traffic.
The steering is responsive, ideal for narrow city streets or weaving through traffic. It also feels very light, adding to the overall comfort. It’s not been designed for country roads, so if you are spending more time in rural areas, you might want to go for a car with a bit firmer suspension.
All the options come with rear-wheel drive as standard, so if you do choose a powerful engine on the car, you can really feel it behind you as you drive. However, this car has been built for comfort and cruising, not for the driving thrill.
You can get the C-Class in petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid options. The petrol models start at 1.5 litres and each come with a small electric motor as standards, which helps to reduce fuel consumption while adding to the overall performance of the car. While the manufacturer states an mpg of around 40, user reviews put the number in the mid to high thirties.
The diesel option starts a bit bigger at 2.0 litres. The bigger engine means you get a lot more power, and the mpg is also a lot more generous with it rated at around 50mpg. 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds is no slouch, so if you want that boost upgrade to the AMG option.
The plug-in hybrid model gives you a range of 35 miles on a full charge, ideal for short commutes or trips into town. Recharging the battery is a little slow, with 90 minutes to go to 100%. The good news is you don’t need a specialist charging station, as you can plug it in to a normal mains socket.
The inside is where the Mercedes C-Class really starts to excel. When you compare it to other cars of the same type and price range, it really is head and shoulders above.
The trim inside is made of an expensive feeling aluminium, with chunky metal switches that feel very satisfying to use. Vegans need not be put off by the leather seats, as these are all made from non-animal products. Called ‘Artico Leather’ it looks just like the real thing and is just as durable as the real thing.
It’s not just about the looks with the seats. They are as comfortable as you would require from a car that’s designed to spend long periods of time on the motorway. You also have a wide-range of adjustment options for the driver seat, so you can ensure you get in a position that feels right behind the wheel. There’s even four different ways to adjust the lumbar support, which should help those who suffer on long journeys.
You have an excellent view of the road ahead in the C-Class, but the rearview can be a bit restricted. However, there’s a reversing camera which should help lessen that impact.
The different engine options all run very quietly, which means you have a quiet cabin on and off the motorway.
All C-Class models in the most recent generation come with a range of fantastic in-car technology features that add to the overall comfort level. The centrepiece on the dashboard is the 10.3in infotainment screen. It’s mounted at the top of the dashboard rather than in the middle, meaning you can keep your eyes on the road as you make adjustments. A sat-nav system comes as standard, with the Comand feature giving you real-time traffic updates and alerting you of potential hazards on the road. Choose a Night Edition spec for an even more advance system, that includes being able to write with your finger on the screen to search for locations in the navigation or contacts in your phone address book.
Another standard in all models is a DAB digital radio, meaning you can listen to both local and national radio stations without worrying about reception. Two USB ports allow you and a passenger to connect your phone for charging. And, if your phone has the capability, you can take advantage of wireless charging.
While the buttons have all been designed to be quite satisfying to use, you can adjust all the important features from the steering wheel controls. The electronic digital display keeps you updated on the performance of your car, and will alert you of any faults long before they become serious.
The integrated rearview camera is another feature that comes as standard, and will make you wonder how you ever got by reversing without it.
The Mercedes C-Class is fitted with some of the most state of the art car safety features that you can get. A big part of that is the Mercedes-Benz Intelligent Drive system that takes information from all sorts of systems to keep you safe. A 360 degree camera gives you and the car’s computer a view of the entire surroundings of your car, meaning you or the safety tech can adapt your driving to match the road.
This is no better signified than in the driving assistance package. We’ve mentioned the adaptive cruise control, and the DISTRONIC system will keep you a safe distance from the cars in front and behind. You can even set the car to assist with keeping you to the speed limit, should you need the help!
One of the smartest bits of kit is the PRE-SAFE system. What this does is, when a potential hazard or danger is detected, emits a hissing sound into the cabin. This has been proven to instigate a natural protective reflex in humans, and so will allow the driver to react quicker than before.
Autonomous braking will help put the foot down for you if a sudden obstacle arrives ahead. Then there’s the blind spot assist, lane changing assist and an automatic stop start system, all designed to help you stay focused on the road and prevent any accidents.
And if you still want to do things the old fashioned way, the bright LED lights will help give you an excellent view of the road ahead, even in the dead of night on unlit roads.
The car gets generally positive reviews from the leading consumer websites. Auto Express gives the car 4.5 stars out of 5. They liked the car’s ‘upmarket interior’, the range of entertainment features you can choose from, and also the diesel engine available in the C220 D option. It lost marks for its expensive price, lack of fun to drive, and a sense that it has overly complicated some parts of the driving experience.
Top Gear magazine praised the car for the comfort of the drive: ‘It’s never anything less (or more) than unstressed and unruffled to drive, creating surely the most relaxing driving experience in its class. For many, that will be exactly what they’re looking for.’
Autocar gave the car 4 stars. They were particularly impressed with the interior design and all-round quality. They were less impressed with the diesel engine than we were, and found it lacking when compared to the Mercedes S-Class.
One of the lowest scores came from What Car? magazine who again criticised the lack of fun to drive and its expensive price as new. “The Mercedes C-Class looks swish and the plug-in hybrid models offer really low CO2 emissions. There are roomier and more comfortable rivals, though.”
The Mercedes C-Class is available new from £28,000, with different options and extras taking prices up to the £70,000s. In our database, containing thousands of vehicles from trusted dealers, you can get C-Class models from as low as £8,000.
If you want something similar to the C-Class, then your best bet is to stay in Germany. The BMW 3 Series is a lot more affordable, and while it doesn’t have the comfort and luxury of the C-Class, it is a lot more fun to drive. The same can be said for the Audi A4, which again has more sporty performance than the C-Class. Both are a lot more affordable than the Mercedes option.
The Mercedes C-Class is a car dripping with prestige, style and, despite the cliché, class. It’s one of the most comfortable cars on the road, and you’ll feel like you are in the lap of luxury when you drive through city streets or out on the motorway.
While it may be a pricey option, you certainly get a lot of value for your money, thanks to the generous and protective safety systems, and the in-car infotainment options are not to be sneered at.
If you want a sporty drive, this isn’t the car for you. But if you want to drive a car that will make people very envious, and keep you comfortable on long drives, then the Mercedes-Benz C-Class is the car for you.
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