2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sedan

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2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sedan Review: Have Faith

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class forms part of a dying breed, as the humble sedan is quickly becoming an endangered species. Clever marketing tactics and a bit of keeping up with the Joneses dictates that only an SUV will suffice for a family vehicle. To remain competitive, sedans have had to work harder than ever; we expect them to be luxurious and comfortable most of the time, but also sporty and engaging when the mood strikes. Powered by a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder developing 255 horsepower, and powering either the rear or all four wheels, the C-Class lines up against the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4 in the compact luxury sedan segment. As expected from a Mercedes, it's a classy, luxurious package with an abundance of available tech, but it falls short on driver engagement.

The C-Class makes a good case for itself. In fact, it makes such a good case that Mercedes-Benz is currently in the process of developing a replacement, which, in a world where manufacturers would rather cull a sedan than see it become a sales flop, tells you how much faith Merc has in its compact sedan.

Read in this review:

  • Exterior Design 8 /10
  • Performance 8 /10
  • Fuel Economy 8 /10
  • Interior & Cargo 9 /10
  • Infotainment & Features 9 /10
  • Reliability 8 /10
  • Safety 10 /10
  • Value For Money 8 /10
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2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sedan Changes: What’s The Difference vs The 2020 C-Class Sedan?

There are no significant changes for the 2021 model year, but Mercedes is adding more value to the package by including two important features as standard across the range. Every model in the C-Class sedan line-up now has a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel and heated front seats as standard. A new Night Edition version of the C-Class sedan joins the lineup, with blacked-out trim, AMG design elements, and AMG seating upgrades.

Pros and Cons

  • Powertrains are very good
  • Luxurious interior
  • Standard specification is generous
  • Many optional extras available
  • Lots of advanced safety features
  • Not as engaging as it should be
  • High base price within its segment
  • Infotainment can be difficult to understand

What's the Price of the 2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sedan?

All of this luxury doesn't come cheap, with the C300 sedan retailing for $41,600, and the C 300 4MATIC going for $43,600. That excludes the $995 destination charge, tax, registration, or licensing fees. It also excludes any optional extras, some of which you most certainly want to tick. Without trying too hard, we configured a C-Class up to $51,000. That's just by adding the AMG Line styling package, AMG Line synthetic leather seats, a tech package for navigation, and all of the advanced safety features, excluding park assist. We also know from experience that you can get a C-Class up to $66,000 by adding almost every optional extra.

Best Deals on 2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sedan

2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sedan Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
C300 Sedan
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
9-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
C300 4MATIC Sedan
2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas
9-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
See All 2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sedan Trims and Specs

Handling and Driving Impressions

There used to be this battle between Mercedes-Benz and BMW, to see who could build the best all-rounder. This included a sporty driving experience. Mercedes-Benz often got close, but BMW always managed to come out tops in this particular category. To engineer this sportiness into their cars, manufacturers often made sacrifices when it came to comfort. Anyone who has ever driven a compact luxury sedan with 19-inch rims with just a lick of tire on it will know what we mean.

For this generation, Mercedes-Benz went in a different direction. Even though the C-Class has a drive mode select with Sport and Sport+ modes, it just doesn't respond well to that sort of driving. To many, this would be a negative, but perhaps Mercedes-Benz is onto something here.

You see, there are C-Class models specifically aimed at spirited driving, and they're very good at it. But this normal run-of-the-mill C 300 isn't, and we're not really sure it matters.

For a second, just think about how a car like this will be used. Wouldn't you rather ride around in a floating sensory deprivation tank than something that sends the feedback of every crack and stone straight up the suspension and into your spine? The C-Class is unapologetically tuned for comfort, but not at the expense of stability. It may ride softly, but it grips as well as its rivals. The steering is responsive and accurate, but there's no feedback whatsoever. We realize that cars in this segment should be all-rounders, but let's not forget how the C-Class (and BMW) hierarchy is structured these days. At the bottom you get your basic models like this, in the middle you have AMG Performance models like the C43, and at the top, you have the full-fat C63. With so many options to choose from, why not make the standard car the comfortable, quiet, and sedate option. There are those out there who see these characteristics as the ultimate, as opposed to gearheads who prefer a firm ride and a quick steering rack.

Verdict: Is the 2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sedan A Good car?

Considering that it's almost near the end of its lifecycle, the C-Class is an impressive compact luxury sedan. It's uninspiring to drive, but that's its biggest sin, and we're not 100% convinced it is one. To illustrate the point, we have to draw a comparison between the C-Class and the Alfa Romeo Giulia. The latter is a car that actively engages you in the driving experience. The suspension setup is firm, the turn-in is supercar-like, and the lovely four-cylinder soundtrack serves as a constant reminder that there's a sporty engine to exploit. The C-Class doesn't do that. It wants you to get in and get comfortable while it transports you to your destination with as little effort and noise as possible.

It can be quite brisk when you need it to be; the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-pot pulls strongly, and the nine-speed automatic isn't afraid to drop a cog or three. You'll certainly appreciate it when you need to overtake slower cars. But other than that the C-Class is best enjoyed at a reasonable pace, soaking up the luxury offered by the beautifully appointed interior. On the downside, the C-Class is starting to show its age when it comes to the infotainment system. The new 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster helps, but the COMAND system remains a clunky offering. There's also the lack of trunk space compared to its main rivals. Mercedes' focus on offering comfort at the expense of everything else may have led to a car that falls short in certain areas, but as a luxury driving experience, there are few cars in the segment that comes close to the C-Class.

What Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sedan Model Should I Buy?

Only two models are available, and the one you opt for depends entirely on whether you need an all-wheel-drive or not. It's recommended for cold-weather states, but the rear-wheel-drive C300 does a perfectly decent job of transferring its power to the ground under normal conditions.

In terms of optional packages, we'd add the AMG Line for access to the more interesting interior color options, as well as the Premium Package and Multimedia Package. Since this is a car built for comfort and not for speed, you might as well have the best infotainment system to entertain you on the ride.

2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sedan Comparisons

BMW 3 Series Sedan BMW
Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class Mercedes-Benz

2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sedan vs BMW 3 Series Sedan

This battle has been going on for ages, and BMW currently has the upper hand. The 3 Series is newer, and therefore a step above in a number of important areas. For starters, it's more spacious, offering all passengers more room, and a larger trunk for carrying their stuff. It's worth stating that the 3 Series does not feel as luxurious as the C-Class, though.

The BMW does have a better infotainment system. Not only does it also have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but it can be operated via a dial, or a touchscreen interface. It's much easier to use than the Mercedes' outdated interface.

Performance-wise, the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-pot in the BMW has nearly identical outputs, yet the BMW manages to outperform the Mercedes on every front. This is mostly due to the BMW's superior torque, even though it weighs more than the Mercedes. It's faster, more responsive, and more fuel-efficient, consuming 30 mpg combined in RWD guise. The latest 3 Series also does comfort extremely well; it is, by far, the most relaxing 3 Series to date, and is much closer in overall feel to the C-Class than ever before. Luckily, the chassis engineers did a good job with the various driving modes, so the 3 Series can still be an entertaining car to drive when you want it to be. Overall, the 3 takes the win, but as a newer model, this was almost to be expected.

See BMW 3 Series Sedan Review

2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sedan vs Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class

Since buying down has become a trend, more people are investigating what they can get for less. Retailing at around $8,000 cheaper than the C-Class, the CLA makes a good case for itself compared to its rivals, but not compared to the C-Class. The first and most noticeable problem is the lack of space. The CLA falls under a more compact segment, which means it has even less space all around. The C-Class's trunk is already small compared to its rivals, and the CLA's trunk is even smaller. You also have to make some serious sacrifices when it comes to interior space. With that sloping roofline, rear passengers lose a lot of comfort compared to the more traditional C-Class. The engine is also less powerful and mated to an older seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. $8,000 might seem like a huge saving, but since the C-Class betters the CLA in just about every way, it's most definitely worth spending the extra.

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