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Mercedes-Benz C Class Saloon (2021 - ) review

All-new Mercedes-Benz C-Class draws down tech, luxury and a sense of refinement from its big brothers

The Free Trader UK expert verdict:

5

Available new from £38,785

The ubiquitous Mercedes-Benz C-Class has suffered from its global popularity somewhat over the years, gaining an image as a holiday taxi, and losing ground in the desirability stakes in the UK to the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4 while the Jaguar XE and Alfa Romeo Giulia satisfy saloon buyers craving a genuinely sporty drive. The new C-Class, however, is in a league of its own, packed with excellent tech and design, and running on a decent range of engines.

Reasons to buy:

  • tickFantastic touch-screen
  • tickEfficient diesel engine
  • tickSmart interior

At a glance:

Running costs for a Mercedes-Benz C Class

We tested the higher C300d diesel, a mild hybrid, for a week and got excellent fuel economy
Mercedes cars come with a high price tag reflecting their premium nature. Ownership costs will vary depending on what engine you choose - there are two diesels and two petrols, and a choice of plug-in or mild hybrids. We tested the higher C300d diesel, a mild hybrid, for a week and got excellent fuel economy - 55mpg without trying. It was in the highest AMG Line Premium Plus trim, which pushed the price above £50,000, but for that money you get an awful lot of car in terms of space, comfort, acceleration, class-leading technology (via a massive touch-screen) and fuel economy. Just watch the insurance and VED/’road tax’ costs as you go up the engine/power range. But, rest assured, a top-level C-class will be all the Mercedes you need.
Expert rating: 4/5

Reliability of a Mercedes-Benz C Class

Warranty Direct puts the C-Class higher than average for time spent off the road and repair costs
The C-Class is a perennial top performer in owner satisfaction surveys, outclassing the Mercedes brand which normally hovers mid- to low-table in industry indexes such as JD Power. Warranty Direct also puts the C-Class higher than average for time spent off the road and repair costs. Credit is due, though, to the unlimited mileage offered on the three-year warranty. We don’t expect the new C-Class to perform any differently to its predecessors, and that fantastic infotainment system has been in other models for over a year now, so, while software glitches on touch-screens are common, we haven’t heard of many reports for Mercedes’ MBUX one.
Expert rating: 4/5

Safety for a Mercedes-Benz C Class

The C-Class comes with blind-spot assistance as standard, which isn’t the case for some of its competitors
Most premium cars now come with a raft of safety aids on board, making it hard to award notable point differences here. The C-Class comes with blind-spot assistance as standard, which isn’t the case for some of its competitors. It remains one of the first, and best safety devices fitted on cars, alerting you if a vehicle is passing by you, preventing collisions. There’s also the usual active lane-keep assist to pull you back over if you stray across lanes but, as with all cars, this is too sensitive and is better disabled, as is active brake assist which is also too sensitive in identifying possible forward collisions and pre-tensing the seat belts, pinging and waving at you and – ultimately - grabbing the brakes on your behalf. In another Mercedes last year, this nearly caused a huge collision. But if you want it all, it’s there for the taking. You also get variable cruise control and our car came with the parking package, which includes a 360-degree camera.
Expert rating: 4/5

How comfortable is the Mercedes-Benz C Class

The new C-Class has more elbow and knee space, and rear passengers get a bit more headroom, too
Mercedes’ interiors used to languish at the bottom of the German Three, with old-fashioned gathered leather on the doors, glossy wood, poor graphics on fiddly displays and an air of faded glory. No longer. The brand has been rocketed into the 21st century and has shot over the heads of its competitors in the process. Our test car came with a stunning mix of tan and black leather inserts on the seats, all tightly stitched, and a pretty, light-silver carbon-fibre effect on the dash. The ambient lighting is second-to-none, with a wide range of colours to choose from around the vents, doors, footwells and dash. The Comfort setting offers heated and supported seats in a variety of electronically controlled positions. The new C-Class has more elbow and knee space, and rear passengers get a bit more headroom, too. All in all, it feels like an E-Class and, dare we say it, not too far off an S-Class in the highest AMG Premium Plus trim.
Expert rating: 5/5

Features of the Mercedes-Benz C Class

Functions such as the windscreen wipers and lights are still operated by buttons, which strikes us as preferable to Tesla’s insistence on having everything on the screen
Mercedes used to lag behind the smart set-ups inside BMW and Audi models, but it has suddenly overtaken them with the new generation of cars and, dare we say it, the Mercedes touch-screen is a step up from that of Tesla which, until now, has held the wow factor with its huge tablet. Mercedes’ screen is huge but, unlike Tesla’s, it is angled upwards towards occupants and floats against the dash. Importantly, functions such as the windscreen wipers and lights are still operated by buttons, which strikes us as preferable to Tesla’s insistence on having everything on the screen. Standard features on all versions include wireless smartphone integration (big tick), heated seats (generous), wireless phone charging (big tick again), rear-view camera and that all-important blind-spot monitor. On top of all that, the sat-nav is super clear and informative and you can scroll across a curved gallery of DAB radio stations or phone music. Options include a crystal-clear head-up display containing lots of information, music streaming and augmented-reality sat-nav directions which use a camera at the front of the car to put the directions on the road ahead of you.
Expert rating: 5/5

Power for a Mercedes-Benz C Class

The C-Class feels like a luxurious proposition to drive or be driven in, with no sense that you are in the entry-level saloon of the range
We had the 300d, a 2.0-litre, diesel mild hybrid, on test for a week, and were astounded by its frugality and performance. The 265 horsepower available feels like far more, with plenty of surge on overtake, and yet it returned 50-55mpg even with a heavy right foot. You can also choose a C200, C300 (both petrol) or C220 diesel, and there are plug-in hybrids available. The C-Class feels like a luxurious proposition to drive or be driven in, with no sense that you are in the entry-level saloon of the range. That wasn’t necessarily true of this car’s predecessors, but Mercedes has found its way again, with truly premium interiors, great tech and handsome styling. We’re back on board.
Expert rating: 5/5

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