2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Review
Pros & Cons
- Meticulous construction and engineering
- refined ride and handling
- elegant interior
- rip-roaring C 63 AMG model.
- Cool but clumsy touchpad infotainment interface
- pricier than most competitors.
Edmunds' Expert Review
With striking style, a luxurious interior and high-tech safety and driver assistance features, the 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is one of the best cars you can buy among small sport-luxury sedans and coupes.
The C-Class has long been Mercedes-Benz's entry-level car for North America and the car that most commonly welcomes people to the Mercedes brand. But recently the company has introduced the less expensive CLA-Class and GLA models to be the new "baby Benzes." That's provided room for Mercedes to move the fully redesigned 2015 C-Class up a bit higher in terms of luxury and prestige. A little longer and a lot lighter, the redesigned 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan furthers its successful formula with new four- and six-cylinder engines, world-class interior refinement and safety features that lead the segment.
In the United States, the C-Class sedan launches with C300 4Matic and C400 4Matic models. The C300 uses a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, while the C400 gets a turbocharged V6. Both engines are joined to a seven-speed automatic transmission routing power to a standard all-wheel-drive system. A rear-drive C300 sedan arrives in early 2015, while a new-generation coupe, a diesel model, a plug-in hybrid and a high-performance C 63 AMG model will eventually fill out the lineup. For now, C-Class coupe models carry over unchanged except for minor feature tweaks.
The new C-Class sedan adds 3 inches of wheelbase and grows 3.7 inches overall. It's also 1.6 inches wider. Rear seat passengers benefit most from the growth spurt, earning about 2 more inches of legroom and fixing one of the C-Class's traditional drawbacks. Despite its growth, the sedan sheds 200 pounds with a body and chassis that is now nearly 50 percent aluminum. A new suspension design improves handling and steering, while an optional self-leveling air suspension -- a rarity in this class -- is also available to provide an unmatched level of ride comfort.
Any new C-Class reminds us that Mercedes takes its safety and driver assistance tech very seriously. A new standard collision mitigation system can automatically brake the car if the driver fails to respond to an imminent collision. Optional systems can follow a vehicle ahead and provide steering assistance at speeds under 37 mph. Lane-keeping assist can also apply braking to whichever side of the car drifts out of its lane.
In this fast-moving segment, the C-Class redesign is timely. The 2015 BMW 3 Series still gives the C-Class its toughest run for the money, although the performance and excitement gap between the two is no longer so wide. The 2015 Audi A4's stylish design and high-quality interior make it the equal of its European rivals, while the 2015 Lexus IS, Cadillac ATS and Infiniti Q50 are also worthy alternatives. But for its blend of classic luxury with modern style, design and conveniences, the Edmunds.com "A" rated 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is hard to beat.
2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class models
The 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is available as a sedan and coupe. The sedan was redesigned for this year, while the coupe continues on unchanged (a redesigned coupe should arrive in late 2015).
The sedan is currently available in C300 and C400 trim levels. The C300 is further available in either base, Luxury or Sport sub-trims, which differ in wheel design, suspension tuning, and interior/exterior styling details (such as different grille and steering wheel designs). The C400 is offered with the Sport sub-trim only.
The C300 comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights and wipers, auto-dimming mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 10-way power front seats (with four-way lumbar), driver memory settings, MB-Tex synthetic leather upholstery and a 60/40-split-folding rear seat.
Electronic features include the COMAND interface with a dial controller and a new smartphone-style touchpad interface that overlap many functions, a 7-inch display screen, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, an in-car WiFi hotspot and an audio system with a CD player, USB and auxiliary audio jacks and HD radio.
Additional options for the C300 4Matic are grouped into several packages. The Premium package bundles LED headlights, heated front seats, satellite radio and a premium 13-speaker Burmester sound system. The Interior package adds leather upholstery, ventilated front seats and ambient cabin lighting, while the Multimedia package brings a navigation system with voice control, a rearview camera and an 8.4-inch display screen.
Adaptive LED headlights with adaptive high-beam control come with the Lighting package, while filtered and scented cabin air is available with the Air Balance package. The Airmatic package offers an adjustable air suspension. Picking the Driver Assistance package gets you adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane keeping assist, partial autonomous steering and forward collision warning with automatic braking.
Other stand-alone options include a panoramic sunroof, front and rear parking sensors, automatic parking assist, a head-up display, a power rear window sunshade, manual rear side window sunshades, keyless ignition and entry and a power-closing trunk.
The C400 4Matic comes only in Sport guise with a more powerful V6 engine, a choice of 18- or 19-inch wheels, and the contents of the Premium package as standard.
Mercedes says a new C 63 AMG sedan is set to arrive in the spring of 2015. Check back later for full details on its features and equipment.
In coupe form, the C-Class comes in C250, C350 and C 63 versions. The C250 coupe gets most of the same equipment as the C300 sedan, but also adds a panoramic sunroof, heated front seats, satellite radio and a Harman Kardon premium audio system with an iPhone/iPod interface as standard equipment. Optional equipment includes blind-spot monitoring and the Sport Plus package, which adds 18-inch wheels, a performance-tuned suspension, upgraded brakes, a rear spoiler and sport seats.
The C350 coupe adds a more powerful V6 engine and an adaptive suspension. Most of the sedan's options are also available for the C250 and C350 coupes.
The C 63 AMG is equipped with similar comfort and convenience features, but gets a vastly more powerful engine, 18-inch wheels, high-performance tires, an adaptive sport-tuned suspension, upgraded brakes, sport seats, more aggressive styling and different interior trim.
Performance & mpg
The 2015 Mercedes-Benz C300 is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 241 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. Either rear-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive ("4Matic") versions are available. The C400 comes with a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 rated at 329 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque. With the C400, all-wheel drive is standard. A seven-speed transmission and all-wheel drive come standard on both trim levels, as does fuel-saving automatic engine stop-start.
In Edmunds testing, a 2015 C300 4Matic sedan dashed from zero to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy for the C300 4Matic is 27 mpg combined (24 city/31 highway), while the C400 4Matic returns 24 mpg combined (21 city/29 highway).
Mercedes says the upcoming C 63 AMG sedan will feature a new turbocharged 4.0-liter V8. It will produce 469 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque. An upgraded version, the C 63 S, will boost that output up to 503 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. Both will put their power to the rear wheels through a seven-speed automated manual transmission.
The C250 coupe uses a turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder that generates 201 hp and 229 lb-ft of torque. Rear-wheel drive and a seven-speed automatic transmission are standard, and EPA-estimated fuel economy is 25 mpg combined (22 city/31 highway). The C350 gets a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 302 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque and returns 23 mpg combined (20/28). Opting for all-wheel drive drops those numbers slightly to 22 mpg combined (19/27).
The C 63 coupe is powered by 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. The C 63 can cover zero to 60 mph in between 4 and 4.5 seconds, depending on engine output and body style, but you pay for it with fuel economy ratings of 15 mpg combined (13 city/19 highway).
Every 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class comes standard with antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags, front pelvic airbags (which deploy lower than the side airbags), a driver knee airbag, full-length side curtain airbags and a rearview camera. The C-Class now also comes standard with Collision Prevention Assist Plus and PreSafe, two features that can autonomously apply the sedan's brakes to avoid a collision and increase the effectiveness of the car's restraint systems in a collision. Attention Assist can also warn the driver of drowsiness or fatigue and, in conjunction with the navigation system, suggest possible places for a rest.
Additional safety features are bundled in the Driver Assistance package and include adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist, semi-autonomous steering and rear cross-traffic alert.
In Edmunds brake testing, a C300 4Matic equipped with performance tires stopped from 60 mph in 114 feet, an average time among its peers.
The snappy response from the C300's turbocharged four-cylinder makes it feel slightly more agile than the larger V6-powered C400. Then again, the V6's additional 90 hp offers the sensation of big Benz acceleration in a small sedan package. There's no shame in choosing the turbo-4, however. Although it generates a raspy, un-Mercedes-like racket under the hood when the driver demands max power, it's an occasional sacrifice to make for useful everyday low-end power and fuel economy.
All C-Class sedans come with four drive modes (called Agility Select) that adjust throttle, transmission and steering response. The optional Airmatic air suspension offers a further degree of ride quality refinement. A performance-tuned suspension gives the C-Class Sport variant a firmer ride around town, but also makes it the sharper tool for spirited drives on twisting roads.
The C250 coupe's smaller four-cylinder isn't quite as potent as the turbocharged fours in the Audi A5 or BMW 428i, but it's still a quiet and refined power plant. The C350 coupe's sharply responsive V6 and rear-wheel-drive handling make it the enthusiast choice, while the C 63 AMG's snarling V8 and world-class handling prove that this old-world brand is not above a bit of new-world hooliganism.
Regardless of trim, the C-Class is built for long-haul comfort. We drove for several hours straight in a Sport model equipped with sport seats (tighter shape, more pronounced side and thigh bolsters) and never once longed for a comfier perch.
Elegance and class are hallmarks of Mercedes-Benz interiors, but the 2015 C-Class delivers a new level of visual panache. Whether upholstered in standard MB-Tex synthetic leather or the optional genuine article, the cabin features exceptional materials quality and a cool contemporary design. Door panels fuse wood, soft-touch surfaces and metallic accents, and integrate tightly with the dash and instrument panel. It's a notable break from traditional Benz understatement and it's no surprise to learn that the cabin was conceived by Mercedes' design studio in Italy.
With added length, the new C-Class sedan addresses a previous shortcoming. Rear passengers now get 35.2 inches of legroom, up nearly 2 inches from last year's model. It's not a significant increase among the class -- the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series offer the same -- but it does make the C-Class more competitive. Trunk space also grows slightly, now up to 12.8 cubic feet. The standard front seats are built for long-haul comfort, and even the firmer sport seats keep driver and passenger snug without fatigue.
The two-door, however, is still coupe-ishly cramped in the backseat. Legroom measures up against the rest of the segment, but headroom is nonexistent for anyone taller than about 5-feet, 8 inches. Trunk space is also smaller than the sedan, but average for the small luxury coupe class at 11.7 cubic feet.
The new C-Class gets an updated infotainment and navigation interface with a standard 7-inch or optional 8.4-inch tablet-like display. Both are fixed, freestanding displays that look like an iPad perched atop the center vents, the sole moment of inelegance in an otherwise stunning cabin. A new touchpad interface is now also standard for the COMAND infotainment system, which is still our favorite from a luxury automaker.
Floating above the traditional dial controller, the touchpad mimics tablet and trackpad gestures like swiping, pinching and tapping. You can also trace letters and numbers on the surface, for inputting a street address for example, but we found it requires a patient and steady hand to produce anything better than chicken scratch. The touchpad is a neat idea, but takes some getting used to. We found it faster to access many functions using the dial-and-button controller.