The Mercedes-Benz C-Class has been with us for couple years now, although the convertible version is all new this year. It takes many cues from the larger, S-Class and has a slippery, sexy shape that bids farewell to the sharp corners and blunt details from yesteryear.
The gorgeous new convertible joins the sedan and coupe versions, both handsome in their own right.
No matter the body, the C-Class is excellent. It earns an 8 out of 10 on our style-o-meter. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The latest C-Class has an upright grille that's flanked by more intricately styled headlamps—they wear brows of LEDs, and can be composed of LEDs themselves. The lower front end is punctuated by big air intakes, flared and curved to convey performance without leaning too heavily on racing-derived shapes. Flared front fenders and three big creases that rise out of the nose give it a more streamlined appearance. The tail has a more rounded appearance that's a softer, pleasant complement to the front end, and positively stolen borrowed from the S-Class.
AMG models get a tweaked front bumper with bigger air intakes, new trim in matte silver, a trunk-lid spoiler, and chromed dual tailpipe outlets. There's a gloss-black package for an extra layer of glitz, and the usual cues like painted brake rotors are options.
Mercedes has also distilled its design language inside the C-Class, with long lines wrapping around the cabin. (Finish is important here: We've found that some wood veneers just don't look as good as others.) Front and center is a free-standing display at the top of the center stack, three circular vents below, and two thin strips of buttons to control key functions.
AMG models are shod with different grades of leather—regular or sueded nappa hides on the seats—and a choice of interior materials including Linden wood, piano-black, carbon-fiber, or silvered fiberglass. Seat belts can be red, black, silver (current mood: red) and you can have Mercedes wipe all the badging off the front and back, except for an illuminated three-pointed star.
Altogether in design, details, and features, the cabin is a knockout. It really could fit right into a luxury flagship with double the price. Whether you expect something contemporary and fresh, or whether you want an updated take on the traditional, it fully fits.
The C-Class is a knockout in any guise—but we're always partial to the coupe.
The 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class comes in four different engine configurations (five if you count the coming hybrid), 4 , 6, or 8 cylinders, in rear- or all-wheel drive, with or without a roof or air suspension, in 7- or 9-speeds...you get the picture.
All models share a couple things in common, however. First, they're all turbocharged. Second, there isn't a manual transmission to be found in the lineup.
We like the base turbo-4, and the sharp handling of those sedans. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class earns a 7 out of 10 on our performance scale because we rate to the model you're most likely to see on streets—but there's more performance to be found if you're interested. Oh, so much more. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The base turbo-4 found in C300 models (sedan, coupe, or convertible) is a 2.0-liter turbo-4 that makes 241 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. It's mated to a 7-speed automatic and rear- or all-wheel drive and should be plenty fast for most drivers, with 0-60 mph times registering in the mid-six-second range. It feels wonderful and whizzy in the way that the compact CLA45 AMG does; the engine finds its boost almost instantly, and while it doesn’t build to a high-rev frenzy or crackle like in the CLA45, throughout the rev band it feels strong and its turbo is staged well.
Stepping up to the mid-range Mercedes-AMG C43 (nee C450 AMG Sport) brings to the table a 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 that makes 362 hp and 382 lb-ft. Like its predecessor, the new twin-turbo V-6 engine is potent, and feels strong in any gear or rev range; it pulls willingly whether passing at 60 mph, which it can reach in about 4.9 seconds, or accelerating from a stop. The engine's note, though muted, is pleasant, with a good balance of induction and exhaust sounds penetrating the cabin at lower engine speeds, giving off that classic AMG whuffle. It's much, much closer to the C63 AMG in output and mission, while leaving the truly bonkers acceleration and track-ready responses to its purer AMG kin.
At the top of the pile is the 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 found in the C63 (sedan, coupe, or convertible) that makes 469 hp and 479 lb-ft. Its sonorous V-8 is a piece to behold. Its signature snarl and kick-in-the-back torque makes the C63 the envy of any enthusiast, even if it's not as mental as the ATS-V's turbocharged masterpiece or as clinical as the BMW's M-Series tactician found in the M3/M4. It's rear-drive only—as nature intended—and eager to transmute tires into smoke at any moment.
Keen math aficionados will notice that there are three powertrains listed and four were promised. The C63 S gets its own tuned V-8 that makes 503 hp and 516 lb-ft and if that sounds up your alley, might we interest you in a comfortable straight-jacket over here? The good people won't hurt you.
The AMG models offer improved steering feel, thanks to a separately engineered front end and AMG-tweaked steering assist. Adjustable dampers control ride quality, standard all-wheel drive and an electronic locking differential control power application (and aid handling). The all-wheel-drive system is set with a 33/67 torque bias, and offers electronic torque vectoring across the rear wheels. Brakes are upsized; the transmission has five modes of control, including a true manual, rev-matching mode; and a sport exhaust mode gives the V-6 a muscular takeaway.
Together with 18-inch staggered wheels (19s are an option), the whole setup feels much crisper, much more tied together, than the standard non-AMG C-Class range—and more than the competition from BMW.
The Mercedes-Benz C350e plug-in hybrid mates the 2.0-liter turbo-4 with electrons to produce 275 combined hp. We haven't yet had a chance to drive this model, but we'll report back after we do.
Pack a lunch. We could be talking about the Mercedes-Benz C-Class' powertrains for a while.
If you haven't been in a Mercedes-Benz C-Class recently, its size may be a little surprising. The new "compact" Mercedes isn't really compact at all, it's grown over the years into a relative mid-sizer with more comfortable space for adults and a more usable rear seat, although it's slightly compromised by the sleek roofline.
The C-Class is still best for front-seat riders, so we encourage grabbing the keys or calling "shotgun" early and often. The C-Class earns a 7 out of 10 on our comfort scale thanks to an added point for fit and finish. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
By the numbers, the C-Class is 184.5 inches long, the wheelbase is 111.8 inches, and it's 71.3 inches inches wide.
Inside, the C-Class shocks and awes with elan and material quality. It's styled with a stunning waterfall effect at the center stack, rendered either in wood (including a stunning open-pore black ash wood), aluminum, or carbon fiber, depending on the model. The dash arcs around the front seats, which offer excellent shape and support, and have extendable lower-cushion bolsters, good mid-back support, and full power controls for the front passengers. The combined effect is a display of care and quality not found in competing models.
Starting with the newly minted Mercedes-AMG C43, the grippy, sueded AMG sport seats go beyond the usual bolstering with power-adjustable headrest height and thigh-cushion extenders. It's easy to power into a supremely comfortable seating position, with a good view of the gauges through the three-spoke, flat-bottomed nappa leather steering wheel.
Mercedes has upgraded the look of the C-Class with better materials and upgraded technological controls. A 7.0-inch central display is standard on all cars, with an upgraded 8.4-inch screen as part of an optional package and standard on AMG models.
The only significant letdown inside is still backseat space in sedans. Despite the several inches of added length and wheelbase (and a claimed boost in leg room), there’s really not enough leg room or knee room for those 6 feet or taller. Changes to the door cut and roofline back there actually make it tougher to get in versus the outgoing version, we think.
Trunk space is on the slim side too, at 12.6 cubic feet in the sedan, 10.5 cubic feet in the coupe, or 8.8 cubes with the convertible. The sedan's rear seat backs flip forward, almost effortlessly, with a lever from the trunk side, to provide a flat floor that’s far more convenient than the pass-throughs found in some sedans.
The window line feels high, yet the dash is definitely lower than in previous models and its predecessor; we like the combination of security and outward visibility. The cabin stays tight and quiet, too, with excellent isolation of wind noise.
Mercedes-Benz has made strides in materials quality and size with its C-Class—just make sure you sit in front.
The C-Class builds on an impressive safety record for Mercedes-Benz, and its reflected in its real-world scores.
The 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class has been named a Top Safety Pick by the IIHS and received an impressive five-star overall score by federal testers, albeit with a few notes.
That's good enough for an 8 out of 10 on our features scale, with room to improve on standard safety features. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The IIHS gave the new C-Class top "Good" scores on all of its tests (except a "Poor" score for headlights) and rated the optional safety equipment with the agency's highest "Superior" rating.
Federal testers weren't as kind, but still good overall. Although the sedan achieved a top, five-star rating, the C-Class managed a four-star rating in frontal crash safety and rollover protection, the latter of which is a relative rarity for a sedan with a low center of gravity.
All models offer numerous airbags, including pelvis airbags for the front row, a new window airbag, side airbags for the outboard rear seats, and a knee airbag for the driver. A rearview camera was made standard on all models this year.
The C-Class offers a slew of advanced safety technology, including forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, driver attention alert, and a semi-autonomous traffic assistant, which is capable of following the vehicle ahead at speeds up to 37 mph—even in the absence of lane markers. Furthermore, an advanced brake assist system detects stationary vehicles or pedestrians, and automatically brakes to reduce the chance or prevent collisions entirely at up to 45 mph.
An active lane control system can hold the C-Class in its lane, applying the brakes along one side of the car to prevent unintentional drifting. Active parking assistance, surround-view cameras, and traffic sign assistance (which warns of speed limits, no-entry signs, and other information) are also part of the high-tech safety list.
Mercedes' C-Class adds a standard rearview camera this year, and its safety record is impressive so far.
The 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is offered in a breathtaking array of powertrain configurations, which may seem overwhelming at first. But a deep dive of the options list reveals that most are similarly equipped, with some keep option packages open to those looking to spend more.
For 2017, the C300 sedan is at $40,425, or $42,425 with all-wheel drive, which Mercedes-Benz calls "4Matic." Losing two doors adds about $3,000; the C300 coupe starts at $43,425, adding 4Matic adds another $2,000. Losing two doors and a roof costs even more: the new C300 convertible starts at $51,825. The newly minted Mercedes-AMG C43 starts at $52,925 and follows the same math as the sedan, coupe, and convertible. The high-powered C63 sedan, with all of its V-8 glory, starts at $66,125 and the C63 S starts at $73,725.
That's a lot to digest, but thankfully the rest is pretty simple. All C-Class sedans get power windows, locks, and mirrors; a power driver seat; cruise control; keyless ignition; a rearview camera; and the COMAND interface with capacitive touch pad and a 7.0-inch display.
That's pretty good equipment and infotainment for the luxury sedan, coupe, or convertible. The options list is impressive too, and the ability to customize your C-Class is pretty impressive too. It nearly aces our features test, earning a 9 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Highlights from the options list include navigation; leather; a power passenger seat; an in-car fragrance dispenser (like the one in the S-Class); LED headlights; a panoramic sunroof; a head-up display; a lighting package with LED headlamps and Active Curve Illumination; a hands-free trunk closer; nappa leather seats; AMG Performance sport seats; a Sport Package with AMG bodywork, AMG wheels, and a sport suspension, distinct from the C 450 AMG model; and on base vehicles, the Airmatic suspension.
Mercedes-Benz's corporate COMAND interface and its controllers require a little understanding, and a lot of patience. The system knits together Bluetooth, AM/FM/XM, and USB inputs, with voice commands and touch control in a haptic mess of a system.
Stuffed in the center console is a new capacitive touchpad controller, which looks a little bit like a rounded-form smartphone mounted at a slight angle. It includes hot buttons for favorites and audio features, and recognizes some gestures.
The touchpad would be a very elegant solution, except it isn't. Most notably, scrolling isn't as smooth as people with smartphones would come to expect. There are several ways to get back to the homepage, navigate around audio and map controls, and customize car settings. However, after using it for a full day, COMAND is still confounding. It might feel familiar and somewhat easier to use than those who have had previous versions of the system (and the Siri EyesFree support is cool and, from what we've seen, flawless), but the menu system and lack of smooth scrolling makes BMW's iDrive feel elegant and streamlined, and highlights the effectiveness of Audi's MMI. It’s time for COMAND to evolve into something else that better matches how we today use tablets.
The salve for this open wound: the exceptional Burmester sound system, a pricey option. The matte-metallic brightwork of the Burmester in-door speaker enclosures are unmistakable. Some of us haven't been blown away by the sound of that system, but in many genres it's a blast. The typically clearer frequency separations registers clean and bright over its umpteen speakers.
Ready for a new Mercedes-Benz C-Class? A features and powertrain study course will come in handy.
A cornucopia of powertrain options are available in the 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class, but there's no hybrid or diesel version yet. (A plug-in hybrid C350e is still awaiting its EPA battery.)
Notwithstanding, the C-Class manages respectable fuel economy, provided you don't opt for a high-po version with a fire-breathing V-8.
Base C300 sedans are rated by the EPA at 24 mpg city, 34 highway, 28 combined. Adding all-wheel drive drops those numbers to 24/31/27 mpg. Both of those numbers are good enough for a 7 out of 10 on our fuel efficiency scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Those numbers aren't hard to duplicate in the real world either. In mixed driving we managed more than 30 mpg combined in a 90-mile mix of freeways, suburban traffic, and tight two lane country roads.
Losing the roof—or two doors—lowers the fuel economy slightly for turbo-4-powered models. The C-Class convertible is rated at 23/31/26 mpg and the coupe is rated nearly identical. Adding all-wheel drive to either model drops 1 mpg in combined driving.
Adding more cylinders drops the fuel economy further. The high-powered C63 AMG is rated at 17/23/19 mpg and the convertible version drops 1 mpg on the highway rating. The new C43 AMG is rated in between at 20/28/23 mpg.
We haven't covered all of the possibilities between sedan, coupe, convertible, or powertrain, so it may be best to take a long look at the sticker before deciding on what fits. The BMW 3-Series and Audi A4 manage combined fuel economy around 27 mpg in base configurations, although it's possible to find a rare diesel-powered BMW 3-Series that manages above 30 mpg.
A plug-in hybrid is coming, but the rest of the C-Class family is still relatively fuel efficient.