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Thoughts on current Mercedes-Benz C class?

Dark1x

Digital Foundry
Verified
Oct 26, 2017
3,154
So I’m thinking of changing cars this year. Been driving a BMW 528i (2012 Model) since moving to Europe in 2013. Absolutely love it but kinda feeling like I want to upgrade while it still has some value.

Kinda want to move down to a slightly smaller car.

Was thinking of sticking with BMW (I quite like the 4 series Gran Coupe - which is just a longer, nicer looking 3). I really love the look and interior of the C class, however, and it’s been around long enough now that it should be fairly mature and stable.

Haven’t test driven anything yet but I want to stick with manual transmission (Widely available here in Germany) as it’s just much more engaging for me.

Anyone drive one? Thoughts on handling?Anything else in this class worth checking out? I love the A5 Sportback design but I’m not a huge fan of Audi’s handling (at least in older models).
 

Chan

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,547
Get a Guilia. Well. Don’t get an Alfa if it’s your only mode of transportation, it could catch on fire and blow up as soon as you leave the dealer lot as it being an Alfa.
 

MrKlaw

Member
Oct 25, 2017
9,531
I have a 2018 4 series gran coupe. Its lovely. I had 3 series before that and love the feel of driving a BMW. The gran coupe gives me coupe looks and the lovely frameless doors (4 of them) for family practicality and a powered hatchback with lots of storage. My previous 3 sedan/saloon was always practical but the boot loading lip was always quite narrow and high. And with the new idrive screen and digital dash its pretty enough. Has Alexa integration now so I usually just use that for starting audio streaming, while leaving the idrive screen free for maps (which also appear on the digital dash too for turn points). Surround view is also recommended for easier parking.

Never had a Merc, but I think the general consensus is a bit like Audi - you give up some of the driving feel for a nicer overall interior. My wife had an A5 for a while and that was beautiful, but absolutely numb to drive. I'm no skilled driver but the Audi just felt like there was no feedback under the steering wheel, and the suspension was rock hard. Merc is supposed to be softer with suspension?
 
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Dark1x

Dark1x

Digital Foundry
Verified
Oct 26, 2017
3,154
I have a 2018 4 series gran coupe. Its lovely. I had 3 series before that and love the feel of driving a BMW. The gran coupe gives me coupe looks and the lovely frameless doors (4 of them) for family practicality and a powered hatchback with lots of storage. My previous 3 sedan/saloon was always practical but the boot loading lip was always quite narrow and high. And with the new idrive screen and digital dash its pretty enough. Has Alexa integration now so I usually just use that for starting audio streaming, while leaving the idrive screen free for maps (which also appear on the digital dash too for turn points). Surround view is also recommended for easier parking.

Never had a Merc, but I think the general consensus is a bit like Audi - you give up some of the driving feel for a nicer overall interior. My wife had an A5 for a while and that was beautiful, but absolutely numb to drive. I'm no skilled driver but the Audi just felt like there was no feedback under the steering wheel, and the suspension was rock hard. Merc is supposed to be softer with suspension?
Hmm...that's interesting then. I need to test drive the C Class for sure then.

I'm still feeling like the 4 Gran Coupe is my front runner as I love how it drives and it looks great - it's just the interior is a bit dull. The C Class is top shelf in comparison but...I've only ever ridden in one. Gotta drive it first.

Manual in a Mercedes?

Surely not...
Are they of poor quality? Cuz, after spending the whole holiday in the US driving automatic again, I really hated it. That was in my Dad's CTS, which isn't a Mercedes obviously, but it handled well overall - I just didn't like the auto transmission. Manual is so much more enjoyable.

So this is how you really feel!
Oh but I love everything else!

Get a Guilia. Well. Don’t get an Alfa if it’s your only mode of transportation, it could catch on fire and blow up as soon as you leave the dealer lot as it being an Alfa.
Oh I adore the look of it but...yeah, the reputation isn't there yet. I'm just not sure I could commit to it. Same for a Jaguar, really.

I've had overall great luck with the BMW outside of the AC failing for some reason (which was not cheap to fix). Otherwise, typical wear and tear stuff.
 

bionic77

Member
Oct 25, 2017
12,515
I don’t like the C at all. The move is to get the E. Looks, feels and drives much better.

If you want to stay small I would get a 3 series or the Model 3 instead.

Though the C class often has great deals so there is that for it.
 

Hesemonni

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,890
Are they of poor quality? Cuz, after spending the whole holiday in the US driving automatic again, I really hated it. That was in my Dad's CTS, which isn't a Mercedes obviously, but it handled well overall - I just didn't like the auto transmission. Manual is so much more enjoyable.
Oh, it's nothing like that. Just a personal opinion and the feeling manual just doesn't suit Mercedes as a brand. I actually learned to drive on a manual MB back in the day.

About C-class. The new model is just coming so you're bound to find good deals on the current one. Then again the price difference between C and E is not that big one so maybe take a look at E while you're at it?
 
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Dark1x

Dark1x

Digital Foundry
Verified
Oct 26, 2017
3,154
Aren’t they going to update the interior like the new A and CLA soon?
I'm all for an interior refresh but a full model refresh isn't something I like to jump on due to potential issues. The current C is very mature right now. Maybe that's the wrong way to go about it but...I'd prefer something that's tried and true. Especially if there are good deals to be had on the outgoing model.
 

Lo-Volt

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,706
New Yawk City!
Would you consider the new A and CLA classes? This outgoing C was well-liked here in America (a big styling advancement over its predecessor) but it’s nearing the end of its generational life. The A looks like it’s moving closer to the C’s segment.
 
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Dark1x

Dark1x

Digital Foundry
Verified
Oct 26, 2017
3,154
Would you consider the new A and CLA classes? This outgoing C was well-liked here in America (a big styling advancement over its predecessor) but it’s nearing the end of its generational life. The A looks like it’s moving closer to the C’s segment.
Nah, that's a little below where I want to go. They are nice, though.
 

Chan

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,547
I don’t like the C at all. The move is to get the E. Looks, feels and drives much better.

If you want to stay small I would get a 3 series or the Model 3 instead.

Though the C class often has great deals so there is that for it.
bionic my dear old friend, I'm surprised your cheapass is suggesting anything other than a Lexus.
 

Waaghals

Member
Oct 27, 2017
410
I have driven the newest model of C-class (facelift) albeit with the 190 hk engine.
It is good looking inside and out and comfortable - especially with the sound insulating side windows.
I cannot say how it compare to the last generation 5 series, as I have not driven it. It is a bigger car thorugh, so it might be more comfortable even though it is older.

I have not driven the car with a manual transmission, but those who have seem to claim that the shifter "feel" isn't all that.

In terms of driving dynamics, it seems very competent, though I feel that the steering is too light - even in sport mode.
This could be a matter of taste.

Since I do not own the car, I have not been able to hoon it, though I feel that it tightens up well when driven actively. It is probably a very good long distance highway cruiser.

In terms of optional equipment, the glass cockpit is very nice and the Multibeam upgraded headlights are magical.
 

Yankee Ruin X

Member
Oct 31, 2017
666
I took out the C Class, Audi A4 and 3 Series and settled on the 3 series. Audi was just boring, Merc interior is the best in that it looks really nice but it's handling is sloppy and gear changes weren't snappy, plus I'm not keen on the back end of them. 3 series drove great, iDrive system works great and it looks good all round.

I got a F30 335d for the daily and it's stupidly quick as standard but I had mine remapped to 404BHP and 796NM of torque and now it gets even better MPG too as well which was surprising, on a motorway cruise I can get 50ish MPG. It's a cracking car and it's embarrassed plenty of M3/M4's and other cars off the line with how quick it accelerates off the line due to the stupid amount of torque it has and launch control with 4 wheel drive.

So yeah get a 3/4 Series, 4 Gran Coupe is defs the best in my opinion and don't be put off by the autobox. I wasn't keen on the idea of getting an auto but it does have flappy paddle and can put it in manual if you want which is how I thought I would drive it but the auto box is just so damn good I gave up with that after 5 mins. In Sport/Sport+ the changes are rapid, way faster than what you could do yourself, comfort mode is still pretty snappy and in eco pro it's very smooth. If you are getting petrol then don't get anything less than the 340i/440i as you will regret it and in diesel get the 330d/430d or higher.
 
Oct 25, 2017
1,536
Chicago, IL
The W205 C-Class is a nice car, just feels too luxurious and not sporty enough for me personally unless you go the AMG route. If you can get one with 6MT, that would be intriguing considering Mercedes doesn’t really do 6MT outside of Europe (and only on the base models I think?).

Does BMW offer the 4GC with 6MT in Germany? If so, I’d go that route - F36 platform is reliable at this point. I currently drive a 2020 M4 6MT and won’t consider another car unless it has a manual transmission! :D
 

MrKlaw

Member
Oct 25, 2017
9,531
love the auto box on mine. 8 speed BMW box has been refined to the nth degree although I prefer the stick forward/back to the paddles.
 

No Depth

Member
Oct 27, 2017
9,182
I got the new 2019 A class last year in America(no manual as I don’t even think it’s optioned here).

It’s a gorgeous car and I adore the interior refresh particularly. At least aesthetically. It’s also demanding in terms of options to get the best performance out of it. Unclear how Germany handles but over here, you really need certain additional driving packages at a premium cost to get the full benefit of the driving experience. Steering package for several improvements to road handling and other such gimmicks, deluxe package for the larger screens(must) and navigation.

The new Siri-like MBUX interface is nifty but definitely feels like it’s having growing pains. Voice, touch, trackpad, and no simple way to skip/rewind 15s in podcasts or music(ugh). It can take a decent amount of time to connect to network if starting the car in a garage where signal is lousy, making most functions worthless for a good bit. Navigation warns you too late on turns or directions at times, making me more prone to watching the display map than depending on voice guidance. Can feel limiting in functionality next to Tesla, but it’s still slick in its own way. For the most part I dig it and the two beautiful screens adorning the dash.

The premium wheel(same as in the S class) is awesome. The C class should have this all added in new models, which I much prefer over the old styling. Driving feels good, but the shock absorption could be better on the A. Steering is great and smooth, it has a decent amount of pep for its class, especially in the sport transmission.

I like, but I can’t comment on the C or how it fares next to a comparable BMW or Audi.
 

GSG

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,199
My wife has a 2019 C Class, it's a nice car, I like it. It won't feel as sporty as your 5 series, but it will be a lot more comfortable(and it has a much nicer/more luxurious interior IMO).
 

flohen95

Member
Nov 4, 2017
60
If you want a manual, you will be limited in your choice of engines with the C class - as far as I am aware, the highest powered model available with a manual transmission is the C200 (pre-facelift, for the newest models you'd have to go with the C180). That might be underpowered for you considering you'll be coming from a 528i. I don't know what BMW offers in terms of engine/transmission combinations on the current 4 series, but I'm going to guess you have looked into that already.

I have personally driven the C250 wagon (with the sports suspension), and I like it quite a bit. The handling is very direct and precise, almost too "electronic" feeling for my taste though (with my points of comparison being a 2005 CLK convertible and a 2008 320i wagon).

I personally prefer the style of car that the 4 series Gran Coupe represents, though. The large boot lid gives it just the right balance between functionality and form. Sadly, the choices are rather limited for this type of car, especially if you want to go with rear wheel drive. Audi A5 Sportback and the new Peugeot 508 are front-wheel drive (and the AWD A5 Sportback is pretty costly), as is the Ford Mondeo (which I think looks genuinely great). The Kia Stinger fits the mold, and I have heard nothing but good about it, but I don't think it's available with manual transmission.

Really, my personal favourite here would be the 4 series, so if you can at all look past the interior that you do not seem to like much, I'd go with that. It's an easier change because you can go to the same garage that you go to already, and you don't have to deal with relearning the controls for everything. Mercedes especially has some annyoing quirks. Also, the interface for controling the onboard entertainment system is a pain and a half. The 2008 3 series' was much easier and more intuitive to use than the one in the 2017 C class. I don't know if the post-facelift models have at all improved on that, or if current BMW have been worse than the 2008 one, but if they haven't, that would personally be another thing the BMW will have going for it.
 

FaceHugger

Member
Oct 27, 2017
9,133
I'd stick with BMW. My ex had two Mercedes and they were nothing but trouble. Had to take the second one into the shop barely a month after buying it. Mess.
 

32X4LYF

Member
Dec 25, 2019
177
Get a Guilia. Well. Don’t get an Alfa if it’s your only mode of transportation, it could catch on fire and blow up as soon as you leave the dealer lot as it being an Alfa.
You may joke around but as a car fanatic myself there is something about the Guilia in Quadrifoglio guide that is just incredible. The exhaust note is sublime. It is rear wheel drive and it comes in a manual. I am almost willing to forgive it's shortcomings for those three points alone.
 

turbobrick

Member
Oct 25, 2017
4,560
Mesa, AZ
If you want a manual and a sporty driving experience, you should probably stick with bmw.

You may joke around but as a car fanatic myself there is something about the Guilia in Quadrifoglio guide that is just incredible. The exhaust note is sublime. It is rear wheel drive and it comes in a manual. I am almost willing to forgive it's shortcomings for those three points alone.
Sadly no Alfa Romeo comes with a manual in the US.
 

32X4LYF

Member
Dec 25, 2019
177
If you want a manual and a sporty driving experience, you should probably stick with bmw.



Sadly no Alfa Romeo comes with a manual in the US.
Thankfully @dark1xlives in Europe! So take advantage of what Alfa Romeo has denied us. I want to live vicariously through your vehicle purchases John! Get the Alfa! Live life on the wild side!
 

Lo-Volt

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,706
New Yawk City!
I joked about it but actually, you tell me. Is the second-generation Opel Insignia GSi just too far down the ladder for you?

We have the model but not the trim in the U.S. and our reviewers liked the second-generation model well. It’s placed here in the Buick marque, which would like to snare C-class buyers if it could convince them to try. Like with the C-class, the current Insignia is a bit closer to the end of its generation than the beginning.
 
Oct 29, 2017
3,112
Last time I drove a Mercedes sedan it was quite a step down compared to a BMW in terms of driving dynamics; much more focused on outright comfort whereas BMW are tilted a bit more towards sportiness. Just something to keep in mind.
 

score01

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,289
I'm all for an interior refresh but a full model refresh isn't something I like to jump on due to potential issues. The current C is very mature right now. Maybe that's the wrong way to go about it but...I'd prefer something that's tried and true. Especially if there are good deals to be had on the outgoing model.

I wouldnt go for a C at the moment specifically because it hasn't had the tech upgrade. The new MBUX is pretty good, has been tested and the bugs ironed out in the A and CLA. If the A is too small - I would defo look at the CLA.
 
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Dark1x

Dark1x

Digital Foundry
Verified
Oct 26, 2017
3,154
Hmm, it definitely sounds like I should stick with BMW especially if the C Class is only offered with lower tier engines if you want manual gearbox. I'll still give one a test drive just to see but, yeah, 4 series Gran Coupe is probably the way to go.
 

BAW

Member
Oct 27, 2017
654
There's a new 3 series out and it's best in class, why not that one? It's by far the best choice if you're even remotely interested in spirited driving and a great all-around package. The C Class is more relaxed (maybe not your cup of tea?) and there will be a new one out in 2 years. We're talking about new cars, right?
Also the new B series engines from BMW are quite reliable (friggin' finally) so the main reason to go Mercedes is no longer there IMHO.
 

Dralos

Member
Oct 26, 2017
524
Are they of poor quality? Cuz, after spending the whole holiday in the US driving automatic again, I really hated it. That was in my Dad's CTS, which isn't a Mercedes obviously, but it handled well overall - I just didn't like the auto transmission. Manual is so much more enjoyable.
Mercedes isnt known for their manual transmissions.
I would suggest you test drive one.
 

Stinkles

343 Industries
Verified
Oct 25, 2017
16,780
Caveat: This recc is detailed but it requires letting go of stick. The car I recommend has an extremely engaging manual mode with either shift lever or paddles. And significant options for handling mode and behavior.


I test-drove it extensively. I loved it. At the time they were calling it the mini-S-class and I don't think that was inaccurate. Most of the luxury sedans in that range - Audi a4, BMW 3,4, Lexus IS, even the entry level non -Quaddrofolgia Alfa Romeo and even the somewhat rough but beefy Infiniti Q50 were similarly equipped and felt very much like flavors of the same dessert. After extensive time in each (the Acura didn't make sense because it would have been way more sensible to buy a loaded Accord since I don't care about badges) - the Infiniti was too scrappy even though it had a giant engine option, the BMWs were just not great at any one thing specced at my price point, although there's some attractive handling feel it's weak relative to M series versions and the UI was wretched in 2017, the Lexus was dull, the Alfa was a rolling fire hazard and very poor fit and finish - cabin was yuck - it came down to AWD C-Class and Audi A4. I never got as far as negotiating a final price on the C - but the options - even basic things like mudguards were a confusing mess and would have driven my price up likely far in excess of a better equipped A4 - and the cabin of the C - while gorgeous, was a little cramped.

The other advantage the A4 had was (apart from pretty rad 0-60 in 5.6 secs - or 5.3 with the hidden easter egg launch control) and a cabin that is DEAD SILENT. At the time, it was second only to the Rolls Royce Phantom for Cabin noise - at 70mph I can have a conference call from my car and nobody knows I'm driving unless I crack the window. That and the fantastic nVidia Virtual Cockpit sealed the deal.

If I was buying today, I'd still go with the A4 - although I don't like the new touch screen interface - and I'd probably double check the A5 sportback although my loaner was noisy - it had one winter tires so that could have been contributing - although I suspect it's the extra glass on the hatch. It DOES have more storage space and an auto trunk close (oddly the A4 doesn't) so it's better for grocery runs. My A4 also wasn't specced with assisted cruise control where radar locks to the car in front. I scoffed at it but my wife's Scubaru has it and on long road trips it's a life-saver. I drove from Lake Chelan to Seattle once and never used the brakes except at traffic lights yet it doesn't make you lose attention.

The next C refresh might add important stuff but today - you should try the A4 (Premium Plus or prestige) and the A5. They make driving an absolute pleasure - relaxed, intuitive, peaceful, comfortable and easily capable of pulling serious speeds, effortless passing and of course Audi's legendary AWD for snow and other treacherous conditions. IMO obviously.
 

scottbeowulf

Member
Oct 27, 2017
2,752
Get a Guilia. Well. Don’t get an Alfa if it’s your only mode of transportation, it could catch on fire and blow up as soon as you leave the dealer lot as it being an Alfa.
The Guilia is the only car I've ever seen get multiple "don't buy" ratings from major auto magazines after their long term reviews. Beautiful trash.
 

Chan

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,547
You may joke around but as a car fanatic myself there is something about the Guilia in Quadrifoglio guide that is just incredible. The exhaust note is sublime. It is rear wheel drive and it comes in a manual. I am almost willing to forgive it's shortcomings for those three points alone.
No manual in the US, I would never purchase an Alfa, I’d lease one. My local dealer closed shop, not even sure if Alfa will be here in the US much longer. I really wanted a Guilia but I need something reliable, being oncall at a hospital where if I don’t show up because my car won’t start, someone might die.