Overview

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Overview (Final Score: B)

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedans received a completely new design in 2015. For 2018, the coupe and convertible finally get their updates. There's a lot going on with this premier car, and Mercedes hasn't been skimpy on the trim level and engine options.

The C-Class is one of Mercedes-Benz's most prolific and well-known model lines, with body styles that include the sedan, coupe and convertible, offered in a variety of models whose names denote drivetrain choice and model trim. These start with the base C300 and run through performance-charged AMG models and subtrims. Both rear-wheel and all-wheel drive are available on most models, as are extensive lists of luxury upgrades.

In 2018, along with the introduction of the two-door C-Class coupe and Cabriolet models, the AMG C450 gets a new transmission and is renamed the AMG C43. Some content shuffling happens throughout the C-Class lineup, but it is otherwise unchanged from what was introduced two years ago. Not that it needed much change anyway.

As a flagship in the Merc-Benz showroom, the C-Class is often the go-to vehicle for shoppers looking for a well-heeled luxury vehicle with the brand chops to prove its excellence. With style, performance and svelte aplenty, the C-Class delivers.

What We Love About the 2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class:


  • New Coupe and Cabriolet models are beautiful

  • Wonderful interior, even at the base level

  • Expectation of good reliability


 

What We Don't Love About the 2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class:


  • Drop-top models can get spendy quick

  • Touchpad interface could use some refinement

  • Spotty information on the hybrid model


 

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Exterior View (9/10)

From the exterior, the 2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is definitely a grownup's luxury car with a lot of style and classic lines. This is no-holds-barred luxury at its best, with an appealing classy, understated look that carries unmistakable credentials.

The 2018 C-Class in all models has a wide grille with aggressive under-grille intakes and a large Mercedes-Benz three-point at center. The hood rises gracefully from there, riding smoothly to the windscreen, allowing plenty of visual room for the muscular engine promised underneath. The headlamps are wide and long, an unusual trait in today's automotive design where thin blades are often the goal, adding some Old World class. Body lines cut thickly from the top of the front fender and along the bodywork at a downward angle, to the rear fender well. This helps create the arch that's lightly defined along the beltline and roof.

In the sedan model, the C-Class carries that line below the door handles at both front and rear, with the arch emphasized by the space beneath the rear handle. Thin gaps between the low-profile tires and the wheel wells finish the fast-paced look, though wheels are not aggressively pushed to the corners. This last element adds a promise of comfort to the car's otherwise sporty look.

In the C-Class Coupe and Cabriolet models, the body lines are shorter and thus less pronounced, giving the car a more flat-grounded appearance and a longer rear deck. That translates into a more sporty and, interestingly, carefree feel to the car's design. It takes nothing away from the promise of luxury, but adds an element of enjoyment to the smaller models' appeal.

Every aspect of the 2018 C-Class is aimed at the Mercedes' promise of luxury and excellence. Whether the more staid sedan or the fun two-door is chosen, the C-Class definitely has a great look to it.

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Interior Comfort, Quality, Ergonomics (8/10)

The interior design of the 2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is very well done. Individual elements are beautiful and the overall look is incredible. Some of this is knocked back by the lack of integration for technology, particularly the large infotainment screen that seems tacked on as an afterthought. Headroom is also a concern, especially in the back seats and more so when the popular panoramic roof is included.

The standard interior material is MB-Tex simulated leather, which looks and feels good. Only those peeking at the window sticker are likely to know it's not real. The upgrade to genuine leather is also well done with beautiful stitching and color. We like the wood inlay for the center stack, which is cut from a single sheet.

Front seating in the C-Class is wonderful, with a good array of adjustments and nicely done bolstering and comfort. Rear seating in the sedan is very good, with plenty of legroom for the class and enough headroom to accommodate all but the tallest passengers. The coupe and convertible have cramped rear seats not meant for regular use.

Controls layout is very good, though a few Mercedes-Benz quirks, such as the odd placement of the cruise control dongle at the lower left and behind the steering wheel, take some getting used to. There's a good amount of storage for gadgets and gear, with two USB ports standard in the C-Class.

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Technology (9/10)

The COMAND interface for the Mercedes-Benz C-Class is based on a relatively simple and reliable infotainment menuing system that is designed from the ground-up to be controlled by a knob rather than touchscreen. This is good because the C offers only that as an input interface. At the base level, the 7-inch screen has a console-mounted dial for control and includes simple Bluetooth connections, as well as HD radio.

Upgrading the infotainment through either packaging or model trim brings a larger 8.4-inch screen that includes navigation and an expanded control knob with a touchpad above it. The touchpad allows some smartphone-like gestures to be included, but it requires some time to get used to. The COMAND knob otherwise remains intact and continues with its excellence.

Menus for the infotainment in the Mercedes-Benz C-Class are simple and intelligently laid out. The upgraded package adds some apps integration and other options that will appease most of today's luxury buyers without making the system too complex.

Fuel Economy (8/10)

Fuel economy returns in the 2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class depend on the drivetrain chosen. Since choices come by model, the following list of MPG estimates is based on that.

The base model C300 has a turbocharged four-cylinder engine with either rear-wheel or all-wheel drive, and an automatic transmission. The 2018 C300 returns 27 mpg combined, with 24 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. The C300 4Matic (AWD) is rated at 25 mpg combined (23/29). The C300 Coupe and Cabriolet drop EPA estimates by 1 point across the board.

The C350e hybrid model uses the same engine with an electrified drivetrain. It was not available for testing and fuel economy numbers were not published, as of our publication.

The AMG C43 with its V6 is EPA-rated at 23 mpg combined, with 20 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. The C43 Coupe and Cabriolet are rated at 23 and 22 mpg combined (20/28 and 19/26, respectively).

The AMG C63 with its V8 is EPA-rated at 21 mpg combined, with 18 in the city and 25 on the highway. The C63 S is rated at 20 mpg combined (18/24). The Coupe and Coupe S at 19 mpg combined (17/23).

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Predicted Reliability, Initial Quality Ratings (8/10)

The 2018 C-Class is helping to right the losses suffered by the Mercedes-Benz brand a few years ago in terms of reliability perception. The 2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is rated by the J.D. Power and Associates Vehicle Dependability Study as being "Better Than Most" for expected reliability.

We note that there have been four recalls, including one for power steering and one for engine cooling.

Safety (10/10)

The 2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class has received top marks for safety. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the C-Class with a 5-Star overall rating, including four stars each for frontal and rollover, and five stars for side crash tests.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rated the 2018 C-Class as a Top Safety Pick with top scores of "Good" across the board for crashworthiness.

Performance (9/10)

Performance can be subjective with this class of vehicle, but using any available metric, the 2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class lineup does well. There are four models available for the C, each utilizing a different drivetrain.

The base model 2018 Mercedes-Benz C300 uses a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine turbocharged to output 241 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. This runs to the rear wheels through a seven-speed automatic transmission with all-wheel drive (4Matic) as an option. Most drivers can expect to achieve 0-60 mph times of about 6.5 seconds with this setup.

The 2018 AMG C43 upgrades to a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that churns a respectable 362 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque. A nine-speed automatic transmission in rear-wheel drive is standard with AWD as an option. Most drivers can get sub-5-second 0-60s out of this car.

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The AMG C63 has a muscular 4.0-liter V8 with turbocharging that outputs a total of 469 hp and 479 lb-ft. This uses a seven-speed multi-clutch automatic transmission that shifts wonderfully. Zero to 60 speeds of around four seconds are doable in this car.

The AMG C63 S upgrades that V8 to output 503 horses and 516 lb-ft. Using the same transmission, the S model shaves about a tenth of a second off of the car's 0-60 mph time.

On the road, even the base model Mercedes-Benz C-Class handles very well, with a smooth presence and nice road feel. When not being pressed for speed or cornering, the C-Class holds a quiet ride with a suitably comfortable and luxurious quality. When pushed to perform, the C300 will require a few milliseconds to respond, whereas the larger engines have no hesitation. Shifting in the automatic transmission is very good, but the multi-clutch takes that to new levels of excellence with its fast responses and lack of hesitation in the downshift.

Pricing and Value (8/10)

In the luxury classes value is subjective, but the 2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class brings good value for its price point. The base model is a good entry-level option with plenty of bang for its buck, but most buyers will add packages to that and are likely to want the 4Matic model for its better resale value and all-weather stability. Most can expect to find what they want in a C300 for about $42,000 well-equipped.

The new coupe and cabriolet models jump those prices significantly, and may not be as value-conscious as some might hope. A C300 Cabriolet can easily top $50,000, pricing it well within the better-optioned C43 4Matic Coupe and Sedan offerings. Unless a convertible is very important, it's not likely that a value-oriented bargain will be found with the drop-top.

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Total Score and Competitive Comparison (69/80, 86%)

There's a good reason for the C-Class' current stint on top of the luxury small car class, outselling its nearest competitor by double-digit percentages. This excellent offering has a lot going for it. Still, it's worth cross-shopping, especially within the German ranks.

The BMW 3 Series is a great little coupe with a lot of similar options to the Mercedes, but with less on-road luxury and more sporty refinements. Similarly, the BMW 4 Series sedan offers nice road presence for less money. For those looking to truly drive, the Bimmer may be a better choice at the base end. The Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class does very well against the C-Class in terms of luxury, but can't compete in value orientation. Perhaps most compelling, is the Audi A4 with its newly redesigned interior and much more upscale feel compared to previous years' offerings.

Compared to any luxury car in its class, the 2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is obviously at the top for a reason. This is a very well-done luxury car with a lot to offer for the price paid.

Trim Style Engine Drive Train MSRP
Convertible - AWD
C 300 C 300 4MATIC Cabriolet 4 Cylinder AWD 53200
AMG C 43 AMG C 43 4MATIC Cabriolet V6 AWD 60800
Convertible - RWD
C 300 C 300 Cabriolet 4 Cylinder RWD 51200
AMG C 63 AMG C 63 Cabriolet 8 Cylinder RWD 73500
AMG C 63 S AMG C 63 S Cabriolet 8 Cylinder RWD 81500
Coupe - AWD
C 300 C 300 4MATIC Coupe 4 Cylinder AWD 45200
AMG C 43 AMG C 43 4MATIC Coupe V6 AWD 55900
Coupe - RWD
C 300 C 300 Coupe 4 Cylinder RWD 43200
AMG C 63 AMG C 63 Coupe 8 Cylinder RWD 67500
AMG C 63 S AMG C 63 S Coupe 8 Cylinder RWD 75500
Sedan - AWD
C 300 C 300 4MATIC Sedan 4 Cylinder AWD 42250
AMG C 43 AMG C 43 4MATIC Sedan V6 AWD 53400
Sedan - RWD
C 300 C 300 Sedan 4 Cylinder RWD 40250
C 350e C 350e Sedan 4 Cylinder RWD 47900
AMG C 63 AMG C 63 Sedan 8 Cylinder RWD 66100
AMG C 63 S AMG C 63 S Sedan 8 Cylinder RWD 73700

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cars for Sale

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