From the 503-hp AMG coupe to the practical four-cylinder sedan, Mercedes-Benz offers a wealth of options with its compact C-Class. The German luxury automaker introduced the current-generation C-Class for 2015 and gave the model a mid-cycle facelift for 2019.
Within the Mercedes-Benz car lineup, the C-Class is positioned above the subcompact A- and CLA-Class but below midsize E- and full-size S-Class sedans. The long-running small Mercedes competes against other compact luxury sedans, including the Genesis G70, Tesla Model 3, Audi A4, and BMW 3 Series.
As Mercedes-Benz moves down market with the subcompact A- and CLA-Class, the C-Class feels more like a small version of the flagship S-Class than a cheap consolation. The interior is a strong point; the large infotainment and instrument cluster displays look modern, and the interior design is distinctly upscale. Strong safety scores sweeten the deal.
Upon our First Test of the 2019 facelift, we found impressive straight-line performance near the top of the segment and outstanding highway fuel economy in our RealMPG testing. Limit handling can be frustrating, though, thanks to always-on stability control. The experience is noticeably different in each driving mode, and this latest model offers superior ride quality to its pre-refresh alternative.
If performance takes priority over efficiency or affordability, the V-8 AMG C 63 provides all the Autobahn-ready performance, visual flair, and thunderous exhaust you could ask for. It's a bullish brute that's great fun to drive, and it feels like a proper crown atop the C-Class range. This Mercedes compact makes quite a case for itself.
The C-Class coupe, convertible, and sedan are available with three engines. Both RWD and AWD are available, depending on the variant, and all engines work with a nine-speed automatic transmission. All acceleration and fuel economy numbers are based on the volume seller, the sedan, unless specified otherwise.
Trim: C 300
Engine: 2.0-liter turbo I-4
Drive type: RWD, optional AWD
Horsepower: 255 hp
Torque: 273 lb-ft
Acceleration (0-60 mph): 5.5 seconds
Fuel economy (city/highway): 23-24/33-35 mpg
Trim: AMG C 43
Engine: 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6
Drive type: AWD
Horsepower: 385 hp
Torque: 384 lb-ft
Acceleration (0-60 mph): 4.2 seconds
Fuel economy (city/highway): 19/27 mpg
Engine: 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8
Drive type: RWD
Horsepower: 469-503 hp
Torque: 479-516 lb-ft
Acceleration (0-60 mph): 4.0 seconds
Fuel economy (city/highway): 18/27 mpg
The C-Class is among the safest vehicles on the road. In IIHS safety testing, it earns perfect scores in all six crashworthiness tests, Good or Acceptable ratings for headlights. With the optional automatic braking system, the C-Class sedan is a 2020 Top Safety Pick+ (the standard system performs slightly worse in vehicle-to-pedestrian testing). The car earns four-star frontal crash and rollover ratings from the NHTSA (out of a possible five stars).
The sedan seats five, though coupe and cabriolet variants eliminate the center rear seat, dropping capacity to four.
Those two-door C-Classes also limit cargo space. Convertibles offer just 8.8 cubic feet, compared to 10.5 in the coupe and 12.6 in the sedan. As you'd expect, second-row seating in the coupe and convertible are noticeably tighter than in the sedan.
Regardless of trim, the C-Class features a 10.3-inch infotainment display running the automaker's last-generation COMAND interface rather than the MBUX software implemented on newer models. Considering the mostly negative opinions MBUX has generated from MotorTrend editors, that might not be a bad thing.
All models now come standard with a previously optional 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster display. Five-speaker audio is included on the base car, and two premium Burmester systems are available on higher trims.