The Mercedes-Benz C-Class comes in four-door sedan, two-door coupe, and two-door Cabriolet versions. They current generation began when the sedan was launched for the 2015 model year, followed by the coupe for 2016 and Cabriolet for 2017. It still looks stunning in all three versions.
For 2018, C300 and C300 4MATIC sedans get a new 9-speed automatic transmission to replace the 7-speed transmission. This makes 2018 Mercedes-Benz C300 models a bit quicker, reducing the zero-to-sixty time from 6.0 to 5.8 seconds.
There are a number of powertrains, identified by the names for the C-Class: C300, C350e, AMG C43, AMG C63, and AMG C63 S. The five powertrains all use turbocharged engines with four, six or eight cylinders. The transmissions have seven or nine speeds, with rear-wheel drive or 4MATIC all-wheel drive.
C300 models use a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine making 241 horsepower, mated to the new 9-speed, with rear- or all-wheel drive in the 4MATIC.
The C350e plug-in hybrid uses a turbo four and battery pack, making a total of 275 horsepower.
The AMG C43 uses a turbo V6 making 362 horsepower, with the 9-speed that was new in this model last year. It shoots from zero to sixty in less than five seconds, and has sports exhaust and adaptive sports suspension. It rides the middle lane between the mild-mannered C300 and hot-rod AMG C63 that uses a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8, making 469 horsepower. Then there’s the AMG C63 S that makes 503 horsepower and blasts to 60 mph in less than four seconds, with a top speed of 180 mph. It competes with the Cadillac ATS-V and BMW M3.
The C300 sedan gets an EPA-rated 24/34 mpg City/Highway, 28 mpg Combined. With all-wheel drive it gets one less mile per gallon, while the coupe and convertible get two less. Over a 90-mile run in the C300 sedan, a mix of freeway, suburbia and country two-lanes, we got more than 30 mpg. The high-performance C43 AMG gets 20/28/23 mpg. The powerful V8 in the C63 sucks gas, with a score of 17/23/19 mpg.
The C-Class earned five stars from NHTSA, with four stars in frontal crash and rollover.
Advanced safety technology includes forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitors, driver attention alert, and a semi-autonomous traffic assistant that follows the car ahead at up to 37 mph. There’s also an advanced brake assist system that detects pedestrians and parked cars, and automatically brakes, at up to 45 mph. The lane-keeping system applies the brakes on one side of the car to stop what the sensors think is unintentional drifting–but in our experience most of the time it’s not. Active parking assistance, surround-view cameras, and traffic sign assistance (which warns of speed limits, no-entry signs, and other information) are also among the available high-tech safety equipment.
2018 C-Class models come in three body styles: C300 Sedan ($40,250); C300 Coupe ($43,200), and C300 Cabriolet ($51,200) come standard with vinyl upholstery, cruise control, keyless ignition, rearview camera, COMAND interface with capacitive touchpad and a 7.0-inch display. (Prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.)
The 4MATIC versions include all-wheel drive, among them the C300 4MATIC sedan ($42,250), C300 4MATIC Coupe ($45,200), C300 4MATIC Cabriolet ($53,200).
The C350e Plug-in Hybrid Sedan ($47,900) uses a hybrid gas-electric powertrain.
Options include leather, navigation, power passenger seat, LED headlamps, fragrance dispenser, panoramic sunroof, head-up display, hands-free trunk closer, a Sport Package with AMG bodywork; AMG Performance sport seats; AMG wheels; sports suspension.
AMG versions come in sedan, coupe and cabriolet versions and feature high-performance engines, among them the AMG C43 Sedan ($53,400), AMG C63 Sedan ($66,100), and AMG C63 S Sedan ($73,700).
Safety equipment includes a rearview camera, pelvis airbags in front, a new window airbag, side airbags in the rear, and driver knee airbag.
The lines of the C-Class sedan are graceful, and the coupe is a knockout. The lines are also deceiving, as the sedan looks bigger than it is, easily mistaken for the flagship S-Class, despite a profile that’s all its own.
It’s 184.5 inches long, on a wheelbase of 111.8 inches, and 71.3 inches wide. The Cabriolet (convertible) is also gorgeous.
The C-Class grille is upright and the headlamps are intricate, with LED brows, or optional all-LED. Big flared air intakes. Flared front fenders with sleek creases on the hood. The rear has soft, rounded lines, pleasant.
AMG models are all hotted up, with a more aggressive nose, spoiler on the deck, black trim glitz, and red seatbelts.
The C-Class cabin strives for S-Class quality, noticeable in the executive luxury door panels, inlaid. Some woods look better than others: The open-pore black ash is stunning. The wide centerstack flows like a waterfall, in wither wood, aluminum, or carbon fiber. The lines wrap around the cabin.
The power front seats are spacious and have an excellent shape, with extendable bolsters for thighs, and good back support.
The rear seat and its entry are compromised by the low roofline. Comfort for six-footers will be adequate on long drives, although lacking in knee room. The rear seat easily flops flat for longer cargo.
A 7.0-inch screen is standard, with an 8.4-inch screen available and standard on some models. The COMAND interface with its new capacitive touchpad controller needs patience and understanding. After a full day it still confounded us. It looks like a round smartphone mounted at an angle, and brings Bluetooth, AM/FM/XM, and USB together, using voice commands and touch control. The system is a haptic mess. Scrolling isn’t as smooth as a phone, and its menu management makes BMW’s iDrive feel streamlined, and Audi’s MMI feel especially effective.
The AMG C43 has grippy suede sport seats with more bolstering. They’re extremely comfortable, looking at the gauges through the three-spoke flat-bottom Nappa leather steering wheel. The seatbelts don’t have to be red; black and silver are available too. You can order it with no badging except for the Benz emblem.
The sleek roofline takes up some trunk space, with just 12.6 cubic feet in the sedan, 10.0 in the coupe, or 8.8 with the convertible.
The C300 offers sharp handling, and the four-cylinder turbo feels wonderful, whizzing to 60 mph in 6.0 seconds, according to Mercedes. Turbo boost is almost instantly available, and it’s strong throughout its full range. Power is rated at 241 hp and 273 foot-pounds of torque.
The C350e adds a 60kW electric motor for a massive increase in torque to 443 foot-pounds, allowing it to accelerate as quickly as the C300.
The potent AMG C43 uses a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 making 362 horsepower and 382 pound-feet of torque. It’s strong and willing in any gear or at any rpm, able to accelerate to 60 in 4.9 seconds. The exhaust note is muted and pleasant, joined in the cabin by induction sounds to provide that familiar AMG whuffle.
A snarling 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 powers the C63. It makes 469 horsepower and 479 kick-in-the-butt pound-feet of torque. It’s not as mental as the masterpiece motor in the Cadillac ATS-V, or as clinical and tactical as the BMW M3 and M4, but it’s the envy of every other enthusiast. It comes only with tire-smoking rear-wheel drive.
The engine in the S version of the C63 is tuned to make 503 hp and 516 lb-ft. If we called the C63 motor mental, then this one is mentally insane.
AMG versions use a different steering geometry for sharper cornering, bigger brakes, adjustable dampers to better control the ride, and torque vectoring at the rear. The standard all-wheel-drive system provides 31/69 front/rear bias. The transmission has five modes, including manual, rev-matching, and sport exhaust. With the 18-inch staggered wheels (19-inch available), the AMGs not only handle more crisply than the regular models, but also better than the competition from BMW.
Every C-Class has graceful and striking looks, with quality interior trim, sharp handling and a wide range of powertrains. The standard 2.0 turbo in the C300 is smooth and powerful, and it gets better (and more expensive) from there.
Sam Moses contributed to this review, with staff reports.