2016 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Review
Pros & Cons
- Meticulous construction and engineering
- refined ride and handling
- elegant interior
- diverse powertrain offerings
- rip-roaring AMG C 63 model.
- Cool but clumsy touchpad infotainment interface
- pricier than most competitors.
Edmunds' Expert Review
With its luxurious interior, advanced powertrains and high-tech safety and driver assistance features, the 2016 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is one of the best small luxury sedans you can buy.
Following last year's complete redesign, the 2016 Mercedes-Benz C-Class gives you even more reason to go with the three-pointed star for a small luxury sedan this year. Only three models were offered for 2015 — the four-cylinder C300, the V6-powered C400 and the V8-packing AMG C 63 — but now a four-cylinder diesel and a plug-in gas-electric hybrid have joined the party.
The compact 2016 Mercedes-Benz C-Class bears an unmistakable resemblance to its full-size S-Class sibling.
The new C300d diesel provides impressive fuel economy (above 40 mpg on the highway is likely) and a formidable 369 pound-feet of torque, while the C350e hybrid boasts an estimated all-electric range of 18.6 miles on battery power before its four-cylinder engine switches on. If it's performance you're after, don't fret; Mercedeshas got something new for you, too. The C400 has given way to the spicier 2016 C 450 AMG, which gets an amped-up turbo V6 and a slew of performance parts swiped from the top-dog C 63. If you want a C 63 but don't have the budget for one, the new C 450 presents an intriguing alternative.
Of course, the updated 2016 C-Class also carries over all of the strengths of the redesigned 2015 model, including added rear legroom and eye-catching styling inside and out, as well as an optional air suspension that's unique in the segment. Furthermore, the advanced safety technology that has become a modern Mercedes hallmark is fully present here, such as standard automatic emergency braking: a rare inclusion in this price range.
If you're shopping the C-Class, you'll also want to check out its arch-rival, the BMW 3 Series, which continues to hold plenty of appeal with its engaging driving dynamics and available wagon and coupe body styles. Also hailing from Germany are the 2016 Audi A4 and S4. They're nearing the end of their production cycles, but they've still got a lot going for them. We'd also suggest checking out the Lexus IS, which is newly competitive thanks to the IS 200t's turbocharged four-cylinder engine, or the sporty Cadillac ATS and well-equipped Infiniti Q50 if you're looking for a slightly less expensive alternative.
Clearly, there's an abundance of enticing alternatives here, but the Edmunds "A" rated 2016 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is undoubtedly one of the best small luxury sedans in the world.
2016 Mercedes-Benz C-Class models
The 2016 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is a small luxury sedan offered in C300, C300d, C350e (plug-in hybrid), C 450 AMG, AMG C 63 and AMG C 63 S trim levels. The C300d and C350e are broadly similar to the C300 in terms of equipment, with further details forthcoming later in the model year. The coupe is on hiatus until next year.
Depending on trim level, the C-Class sedan is available in Luxury and Sport sub-trims, which differ in wheel design, suspension tuning, and interior/exterior styling details (such as different grille and steering wheel designs).
The C300 comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights and wipers, power-folding side mirrors with driver-side auto-dimming, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, 10-way power front seats (with four-way lumbar), driver memory settings, synthetic leather upholstery ("MB-Tex"), 40/20/40-split folding rear seatbacks, the COMAND infotainment system (with a 7-inch central display screen and a console-mounted dial controller that's paired with an overlapping touchpad interface), Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and an audio system with a CD player, dual USB ports, an SD card reader and HD radio.
The standard touchpad interface overlaps the control knob and provides added functionality, though we've found it a bit finicky in real-world operation
The C300's optional Premium 1 package bundles keyless entry and ignition with satellite radio, while the Premium 2 package tacks on LED headlights, LED taillights and a premium 13-speaker Burmester sound system. The Interior package adds leather upholstery, ambient interior lighting and heated and ventilated front seats (also adding power adjustments and memory settings for the front passenger seat). The Multimedia package brings an upgraded 8.4-inch display screen, a navigation system, voice controls and a rearview camera. The Lighting package adds adaptive LED headlights with automatic high-beam control, while the Air Balance package adds filtered and scented cabin air.
The Night package (requires the Sport sub-trim) contributes unique black-and-silver wheels and gloss-black exterior accents. The Airmatic package throws in an adjustable air suspension. Picking the Driver Assistance package gets you adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane-departure intervention, partial autonomous steering (a camera-based function that works to keep the car centered in its lane), an enhanced collision mitigation system with pedestrian detection and both front and rear impact sensors. The Parking Assist package piles on front and rear parking sensors, an automated parallel-parking system and a surround-view parking camera system.
The all-wheel-drive C 450 AMG comes only in the Sport sub-trim with a V6 engine, 18-inch wheels, upgraded brakes and steering, an adaptive sport-tuned suspension (with a wider front track), AMG-themed interior styling flourishes, sport front seat bolstering and the contents of the Premium 1 package.
The rear-wheel-drive AMG C 63 sedan adds a V8 engine, wider 18-inch wheels, a mechanical limited-slip differential and performance software with a lap timer. The AMG C 63 S further adds 19-inch wheels, red brake calipers, larger front brakes, an electronically controlled limited-slip differential, active engine mounts and minor upgrades to its interior trim.
The Premium 2 package remains optional on the C 63 trims, as do the other packages listed above. Additional C 63 options (some of which are also offered on the C 450 AMG) include a dual-mode sport exhaust, carbon-fiber exterior and interior trim, race-inspired front sport seats and two-tone leather upholstery. The C 63 S is also eligible for upgraded carbon-ceramic brakes.
Stand-alone options include a panoramic sunroof, front and rear parking sensors, automatic parking assist, a heated steering wheel, a head-up display, a power rear window sunshade, manual rear side window sunshades and a power-closing trunk.
Performance & mpg
A seven-speed automatic transmission comes standard on all 2016 C-Class trim levels. The C 450 AMG has a sport-tuned version of the seven-speed with quicker shift capability, while the C 63 trims have a specialized seven-speed automatic that's even more performance-oriented.
The 2016 Mercedes-Benz C300 is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 241 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. Either rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive ("4Matic") can be specified. According to the EPA, the C300 should return 28 mpg combined (25 city/34 highway) with RWD and 27 mpg combined (24/31) with AWD. On the diverse 120-mile Edmunds real-world driving loop, a C300 4Matic returned 26 mpg.
In Edmunds track testing, a C300 4Matic dashed from zero to 60 mph in a respectable 6.5 seconds.
The C300d is AWD-only and features a turbocharged 2.0-liter diesel four-cylinder rated at 190 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy hasn't been announced as of this writing, but based on the diesel E-Class (which gets the same engine) we'd expect the C300d to achieve a combined fuel economy EPA estimate of close to 35 mpg.
Also new this year is the plug-in C350e hybrid. It's RWD only and pairs a turbocharged gasoline four-cylinder with an electric motor for a combined 275 hp and 443 lb-ft. Further details regarding fuel economy and charging times are forthcoming.
The all-wheel-drive C 450 AMG comes with a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 rated at 362 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque. The EPA projects 24 mpg combined (21/29).
The AMG C 63 and AMG C 63 S employ rear-wheel drive and a turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 that pumps out either 469 hp and 479 lb-ft (regular C 63) or 503 hp and 516 lb-ft (C 63 S). In Edmunds performance testing, a 2015 C 63 S sprinted to 60 mph in a sizzling 4.1 seconds. Both the C 63 and the C 63 S are EPA-rated at 20 mpg combined (18 city/25 highway).
Every 2016 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 driver drowsiness monitor. Also standard are a pre-crash preparation system and the Collision Prevention Assist Plus system, which warns of an imminent collision and can autonomously apply partial braking force to mitigate it. A rearview camera is optional.
Additional safety features are bundled in the Driver Assistance package and include enhanced collision mitigation (with pedestrian detection and both front and rear sensors), blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure intervention, semi-autonomous steering and rear cross-traffic alert. An available mbrace telematics system offers emergency services such as automatic collision notification, SOS call and assist, remote door unlock and stolen vehicle recovery.
In Edmunds brake testing, a C300 4Matic equipped with performance tires stopped from 60 mph in 114 feet, an average performance among its peers. A 2015 C400 (also with summer tires) needed just 110 feet, while a 2015 C 63 S did the job in an impressive 103 feet.
In government crash testing, the 2016 C-Class sedan received five out of five stars for overall crash protection, with four stars for total frontal protection and five stars for total side protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the C-Class its highest possible rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset and side-impact tests. It was rated "Superior" (also the highest rating) for front crash prevention with the optional Driver Assistance package.
The snappy response from the C300's turbocharged four-cylinder is unexpectedly gratifying for an entry-level engine. The C300d's generous torque, meanwhile, promises ample real-world gravitas. Stepping up to the C 450 AMG nets you sports-car-like acceleration, while the AMG C 63 and C 63 S deliver simply breathtaking V8 thrust.
The 2016 C-Class has a dynamic driving feel that makes it an able competitor in this performance-rich segment.
All C-Class sedans have a sporty, athletic character and come with multiple drive modes that adjust gas pedal, transmission and steering response. The optional Airmatic air suspension offers a further degree of ride quality refinement that doesn't diminish handling prowess. The exceptionally capable AMG-tuned models are noticeably tauter over broken pavement, but regardless of trim, the C-Class is built for long-haul comfort. We drove for several hours straight in a C300 Sport model with sport seats and never once longed for a comfier perch.
The cabin of the 2016 C-Class departs dramatically from the conservative aesthetic of its predecessor. Whether upholstered in standard MB-Tex synthetic leather or the optional genuine article, this is a cool, contemporary driving environment. Materials quality is generally very good, and there's plenty of visual interest thanks to curvaceous trim panels that deftly blend wood, soft-touch surfaces and metallic accents. It's certainly a breath of fresh air for those who found earlier C-Class interiors too staid.
The 2016 C-Class boasts an eye-catching dashboard design with more visual flair than Mercedes fans are used to seeing.
Another change can be found in the rear compartment, where passengers now get 35.2 inches of legroom, up nearly 2 inches from the previous C-Class and now comparable to the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series. Trunk space is about average at 12.6 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 C-Class's technology offerings revolve around the standard 7-inch or optional 8.4-inch tablet-like display. The screens boast crisp graphics, though the fixed, freestanding design looks a bit odd, as if Mercedes stuck an iPad atop the center vents as an afterthought. The standard COMAND infotainment interface features a touchpad that floats above the traditional dial controller, mimicking tablet and trackpad gestures like swiping, pinching and tapping. You can also trace letters and numbers on the surface, though we've 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.