Mercedes-Benz C-Class C 220 BlueTEC AMG Line
Striking looks signal a major departure from the previous C-Class
- Pleasingly generous standard equipment package
- Exterior design strongly resembles benchmark S-Class
- Sophisticated ride errs on side of comfort
- Polished engine range
- When driving it can feel slightly remote at times
- Launch engine range lacks a performance edge
- Appearance too closely resembles rest of Mercedes range
- Crowded market ensures tough competition
With the battle in the compact executive market a fierce one, with its latest C-Class Mercedes has chosen to go down the luxury route, eschewing recent trends for serving up a sporty driving experience to mirror that from Audi and BMW
As with so many cars, this latest C-Class is a little bigger in all the right places over its predecessor. In real terms this translates into a fraction more cabin space for occupants, while visually the car looks more muscular and not a million miles away from the flagship S-Class.
And in keeping with the flagship model, the C-Class now boasts more hi-tech kit, be it for entertainment or safety purposes. This trickle down effect does much to reinforce Mercedes' desire to move the C-Class upmarket, while adding considerable value to end user's ownership experience.
Available with an expanding range of improved engines, the fuel economy and low emissions of the various units should make them the smart choice among business users. A six-speed manual transmission is the default unit but there's also a seven-speed auto available - something that's expected to be chosen by the vast majority of buyers.
On the road this C-Class lacks the keen edge of an Audi or BMW, but cars selected in Mercedes' sports specification can prove engaging in the right hands. However, the overriding feeling is one of refinement and luxury, which fits well with the current buyer demographic and the approach taken with larger models within the range.
Our verdict on the Mercedes-Benz C-Class C 220 BlueTEC AMG Line
If you're seeking luxury and refinement in a compact package, the C-Class is hard to ignore. To some it will look and behave like a mini S-Class, which is no bad thing if you're not a fan of the over firm ride and in your face appearance of certain rival offerings. And packing an increased level of standard kit, this C-Class is also surprisingly good value for money in its class.
Although this C-Class boasts more standard kit than previously, it's still easy to add thousands to the list price by cutting loose on the options list. Be careful that your choices won't devalue the car in later life, however. Opting for diesel power could cut your tax and fuel bill, but the increasingly efficient petrol engines shouldn't be dismissed if you don't plan on covering many miles.
Space and practicality
As the C-Class has grown slightly in size, passenger space is very good in front and is even pretty good in the rear seats. Bootspace is even better and easily capable of swallowing even the most oversized golf bags. Cabin oddment storage areas are sensibly located, too.
Controls and display
Unlike the digital offerings of more expensive models, The C-Class' dials and instruments retain a largely conventional layout. And along with an easy to use rotary controller for accessing the car's main functions, Mercedes also provides some simple, clearly marked shortcut buttons for radio, sat-nav and other important features. The standard fit touchpad is a little hit and miss, and can prove fiddly to operate when on the move.
Noise is well suppressed and vibration almost completely absent. There's little hint of any tyre noise, either. All in all this C-Class is a welcome leap forward and closer to an S-Class than its predecessor in terms of overall refinement.
An alarm and immobiliser system is part of the package but an extra tracking system or at least safe garaging is highly recommended for a car as desirable as the C-Class.
Mercedes has made a concerted effort to provide a comprehensive package for the C-Class. The presence of crash-responsive head restraints and numerous airbags is welcome, as is the standard inclusion of a collision avoidance system complete with auto brake function plus rain sensing wipers, reversing camera and cruise control. Naturally you can add to this list - active cruise control and a lane keep function are just two stand-out options.
The car's steering might be a little too light for keen drivers but the C-Class proves to be a relaxing and rewarding experience nevertheless. A driver switchable system that changes steering feel, auto gearbox behaviour and, when fitted, modifies the air suspension's responses gives the car a welcome sportier edge. Until more powerful engines appear the launch line-up of modest petrol and diesel motors won't please keen drivers, though.
Family car appeal
Whatever the car, a saloon body style is hardly the best choice for a growing family. Today there are much better options available, and within Mercedes it's cars like the hatchback B-Class or GLA that would better serve a demanding family. You can fit plenty in the C-Class' boot, but avoiding leather seats would be advisable for obvious reasons if you have a young family.
First car appeal
While youngsters may appreciate the aspirational qualities of the brand, their interest is unlikely to stretch into a genuine buying decision thanks to the car's premium level asking price and running costs.
Quality and image
Opting for a Mercedes can be a predictable choice. The C-Class can just about justify its asking price, but it won't necessarily make you stand out from the crowd. However, it's a much better and more polished proposition than the previous generation if your focus is on refinement and luxury.
With an increase in wheelbase length, this is probably one of the more accessible saloons in its class. The nature of such saloons means the rear door aperture remains a modest one, while access to the rear load space is straightforward.
Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)
The car's entertainment package is a combination of familiar items seen elsewhere in the Mercedes line-up. You'll have to pay extra for the most sophisticated add-ons such as high-end audio packages and premium navigation features. Of particular note is the voice recognition system, plus the easy to use main controller for the car's infotainment display.
Colours and trim
Mercedes continues to offer two distinct options: traditional and modern cabin and exterior 'looks'. The former includes low key but sophisticated cabin treatments, while the latter adds more modern materials such as metal trim finishes. And as you'd expect, the C-Class continues to look good in popular hues such as silver.
The C-Class might not be a large car, but its rear window's lower edge and tailgate is quite high, so care still needs to be taken when reversing. Thankfully the parking sensors and camera system take the guesswork out of any maneuver.
Emergency repair system comes as standard.
Petrol engine options - C 200 2.0-litre (184bhp). Diesel engine options - C 220 BlueTEC 2.1-litre (170bhp). Transmission options: six-speed manual transmission, seven-speed auto. Trim levels: SE, Sport, AMG line.
BMW 3 Series Benchmark driver's choice, hugely satisfying to own
Audi A4 Best in class interior and a very refined experience
Lexus IS Lots of extra kit as standard but not as engaging as its rivals
Skoda Superb Different class and price but exceptional value for money alternative