Full 2014 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Review
What's New for 2014
Every Mercedes-Benz C-Class gets a split-folding rear seat for 2014 as standard equipment. The C350 also gets standard 18-inch wheels in place of 17s. For the C63 AMG, a new Edition 507 performance package debuts.
It may not be the prettiest. It may not be the sportiest. It may not be the most spacious. It's definitely not the cheapest. Yet the 2014 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is nevertheless an impressively refined and well-rounded luxury car that feels every bit as meticulously screwed together as Mercedes' pricier sedans. Even in the face of newer competitors and on the eve of an all-new replacement, the current C-Class sedan and coupe are superb choices.
As you'll most definitely see below, there is a dizzying array of C-Class variations: sedan and coupe body styles, four engines, rear- and all-wheel drive, Sport and Luxury sub-trim levels and the C63 AMG high-performance model. Yet even if you get the simplest, cheapest C250, rest assured that you're not getting gypped. As the C-Class is no longer the entry-level Mercedes-Benz (that honor now goes to the sleek CLA-Class, standard equipment is plentiful and there's a huge list of available luxury- and safety-oriented options.
Granted, there are other small luxury sedans that come with similar equipment at a cheaper price, but the C-Class is so much more than simply a laundry list of features. Whether the well-damped suspension is effortlessly soaking up a railroad crossing or you simply close the door with a vaultlike "thunk," the C-Class has a substantial, finely engineered quality that can't be appreciated by looking at a spec sheet or flipping through photos. Even its prime competitors, the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series, can't quite match it in this regard.
Then again, both of those cars are also very impressive, especially given the 3 Series' lineup of efficient and powerful engines. There are also other competitive entries worth looking at, such as the Infiniti G37 and Q50, Lexus IS and Volvo S60. Coupe buyers should consider the Audi A5, BMW 4 Series and Infiniti Q60. From a high-performance standpoint, the list narrows considerably as, apart from Audi's RS 5 coupe, the C63 AMG exists largely in a class by itself this year.
Really, it's hard to go wrong in this segment. But it's also hard to turn down a 2014 Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan or coupe.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is available in sedan and coupe body styles, both of which are available in C250, C350 and C63 AMG trim levels. All-wheel-drive versions are also available in the form of the C300 4Matic sedan and C350 4Matic coupe.
The C250 and C300 4Matic come standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, LED running lamps, automatic headlights and wipers, auto-dimming rearview and driver-side mirrors, a sunroof, climate control, dual-zone automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel, eight-way power front seats, MB-Tex premium vinyl upholstery and split-folding rear seats. Electronic features include the Mercedes COMAND interface, a 5.8-inch display screen, mbrace2 emergency communications and smartphone integration, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and an audio system with a CD player, USB and auxiliary audio jacks and HD radio. The C300 4Matic differs with a V6 engine and all-wheel drive.
In sedan form, the C250 and C300 4Matic are further split into Luxury and Sport sub-trims. These differ in wheel design, suspension tuning and minor interior/exterior styling details (such as different grille and steering wheel designs). The C300 4Matic Luxury also includes a comfort-tuned suspension.
The sedan's Premium 1 package adds 10-way power front seats (with driver four-way power lumbar adjustment), heated front seats, driver memory functions, a power-adjustable steering wheel, a Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system with satellite radio and an iPod interface. Heated seats and the iPod interface are available as stand-alone options.
In coupe form, the standard C250 gets a panoramic sunroof, additional driver seat adjustments, driver memory functions and the power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. The coupe's Premium 1 package adds the heated seats and the Harman Kardon system with satellite radio and the iPod interface.
The C350 sedan comes only in Sport guise, with a more powerful V6 engine, 18-inch wheels and the Premium 1 package standard; the C350 coupe further adds the panoramic sunroof. The C63 AMG is equipped similarly in terms of comfort and convenience features, but gets a vastly more powerful engine, high-performance tires, an adaptive sport-tuned suspension, upgraded brakes, sport seats, more aggressive styling and different interior trim.
There are a multitude of options available. The Multimedia package includes a rearview camera, a larger 7-inch display screen, a navigation system, voice controls and a six-CD changer. The Lighting package adds adaptive bi-xenon headlights, adaptive high beams and headlight washers. See the Safety section for information about the Lane Tracking and Driver Assistance packages.
All but the C63 can be equipped with the following. The Full Leather Seating package adds leather upholstery and passenger seat memory functions. The Sport package adds 18-inch AMG wheels, a rear spoiler, black upholstery with red accent stitching, sport seats and steering wheel, shift paddles, aluminum trim and red-colored seatbelts. For the C250 coupe, there is the Sport Package Plus, which includes all that plus an AMG sport suspension, upgraded brakes, quicker steering, sport exhaust and a Sport mode for the transmission that features rev-matching downshifts.
The C63 can be equipped with the Edition 507 package, which adds 56 extra horsepower, a higher top speed, an aluminum hood, 19-inch forged alloy wheels, matte paint (available in five colors), red brake calipers and a carbon-fiber trunk lid spoiler. A limited-slip differential is also optional.
Additional stand-alone options include a rearview camera, a panoramic sunroof (on the sedan), a power rear sunshade, keyless ignition/entry and the Parktronic advanced parking sensor system.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz C250 is powered by a 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 201 horsepower and 229 pound-feet of torque. Rear-wheel drive and a seven-speed automatic transmission are standard. In Edmunds testing, a C250 Sport sedan went from zero to 60 mph in 7.3 seconds. It's an adequate time, but still about a second slower than the Audi A4 2.0T and nearly 2 seconds slower than the speedy 328i. Even the new CLA250 should be quicker. Fuel economy ratings for both the sedan and coupe are more competitive at 25 mpg combined (22 mpg city/31 mpg highway).
The Mercedes C300 4Matic gets a 3.5-liter V6 good for 248 hp and 251 lb-ft of torque. The term 4Matic indicates it comes with standard all-wheel drive. According to Mercedes, it can sprint to 60 mph in 6.0 seconds. But rated fuel economy drops to 22 mpg combined (20 city/27 highway).
The Mercedes C350 also gets a 3.5-liter V6, but it produces 302 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive comes with the C350 4Matic coupe. In Edmunds testing, it went from zero to 60 in 5.6 seconds -- a number on par with the quicker members of its class. Fuel economy is 23 mpg combined (20 city/29 highway) for the sedan, 23 combined (20/28) for the rear-drive coupe and 22 combined (19/27) for the 4Matic coupe.
The Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG gets a 6.2-liter V8 that sends 451 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels through a specialized seven-speed automatic transmission. Opting for the Edition 507 package ups power to 507 hp and 450 lb-ft. Expect the C63, depending on engine output and body style, to reach 60 mph between 4 and 4.5 seconds. You pay for that acceleration with fuel economy ratings of 15 mpg combined (13 city/19 highway).
Every 2014 Mercedes-Benz C-Class comes standard with antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags, front pelvic airbags, a driver's knee airbag and full-length side curtain airbags. Also standard are mbrace2 emergency communications and Attention Assist, which automatically monitors the driver for signs of fatigue or inattention and wakes them back up, so to speak, with audible and visual warnings.
Rear side airbags are optional. The Lane Tracking package adds a blind-spot warning system and a lane-departure warning system. The Driver Assistance package adds the lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control and PreSafe brake (active braking system that can automatically apply the brakes if a collision is deemed imminent and the driver doesn't heed the visual/audible warnings).
In Edmunds brake testing, a C350 Sport came to a stop from 60 mph in 108 feet. The C250 Sport and C63 came within 5 feet of matching that outstanding distance. Keep in mind that all of these cars were fitted with summer performance tires; C-Class sedans and coupes with all-season tires likely won't stop quite as short.
In government crash testing, the C-Class sedan received an overall rating of five out of five stars, with four stars overall in a frontal crash and five stars overall in a side crash. In testing performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the C-Class sedan earned a top rating of "Good" for moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side impact and roof-strength tests. It also received the worst rating of "Poor" in the Institute's small-overlap front crash test, but few cars have been subjected to this test, and a majority received similarly poor ratings.
Interior Design and Special Features
Just tugging on the C-Class's door handle makes you feel as if you've cracked open an impenetrable vault. This model's interior is well crafted, and boasts precise switchgear and an eye-pleasing design. The controls are straightforward, and Mercedes' COMAND electronics interface is our favorite from a luxury automaker, as it's the easiest to use. The iPod interface is particularly user-friendly and quick to respond.
Though the sedan is bigger than previous editions of the C-Class, it's hardly the best choice for growing families. Some might find a child seat difficult to install in the narrow, bucketlike rear seat positions, and the 12.4-cubic-foot trunk is on the small side.
As for the coupe, it shouldn't come as a surprise that its backseat is quite cramped. Legroom is about par for the segment (squished), while headroom is nonexistent for those taller than about 5-foot-8. In total, the C-Class coupe is no worse than an A5 and better than a Cadillac CTS coupe. Its trunk volume of 11.7 cubic feet is average for the small luxury coupe class.
Regardless of whether you opt for the 2014 C250, C300 or C350, Mercedes' entry-level luxury car boasts precise steering and handling, as well as overall driving dynamics that are comparable to other sedans and coupes in the segment. Despite their more sporting character, the Sport variants offer a firm but still perfectly damped ride and the ability to tackle long road trips with ease. The Luxury variants ride a little softer and have a quieter exhaust system, resulting in a more serene driving environment.
Though the C250's four-cylinder isn't as potent as the turbocharged fours in the Audi A4/A5 or BMW 328i sedan, it is a quiet and refined power plant that proves there's no shame at all in opting for the base model C-Class.
The C300 4Matic isn't as fuel-efficient as the C250, but it does provide all-wheel-drive traction for those who live in inclement areas. The C350 is a good choice for enthusiasts, given its sharply responsive V6 and rear-wheel-drive handling dynamics.
Then, there's the C63 AMG. Packing a ferocious V8, the C63 responds to driver inputs with added sharpness and a degree of communication few Mercedes-Benz models have ever offered.