The 2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class compact luxury car is a prestigious chip off the old block. Its design, technology and very essence are derived from the S-Class, Mercedes' nearly 6-figure flagship. The C-Class is far more attainable, and if the S-Class shouts that its driver has made it, this one says theirs is getting there.
You'll Like The 2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class If...
Whether you're drawn to its craftsmanship, elegant styling, technology or coveted German badge, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class remains the entry-level luxury car to which others aspire. The C-Class even offers high-performance Mercedes-AMG models (reviewed separately) and a plug-in hybrid version called the C350e.
You May Not Like The 2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class If...
The C-Class' features and enviable reputation come at a price that starts higher than those of its rivals. If you want a compact luxury car that's as distinctive as it is practical, you might like the roomier Audi A5 Sportback or BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe.
For 2018, all C-Class models except the hybrid receive a 9-speed automatic transmission (the hybrid retains a 7-speed). Sedan models gain a power sunroof as standard, while the coupe gets a rearview camera and blind-spot monitoring. Cabriolets receive a semi-automatic trunk separator, wood trim and analog clock. All models now have extendable sun visors.
Lovely. Few other words suffice when it comes to describing the 2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class interiors, especially on the heels of the former generation, which had more of a cold, clinical demeanor. The C-Class is available with an attractive array of wood and aluminum finishes, and a relatively clutter-free layout that manages to still feel elegant. Central to the de-cluttering is a simple rotary dial and optional touch pad that respond to gestural inputs, swipes and handwriting. Adding to the upscale feel is an available Air Balance Package with a fragrance diffuser that atomizes perfume into the air-conditioning system. Pragmatically, rear-seat legroom can be tight for taller passengers, and coupe and convertible model trade the sedan's 3-passenger bench for a pair of more sculpted seats.
The C-Class' elegant interior isn't its only correlation to the S-Class. Like that flagship, the C-Class is curvy, bold and beautiful. Thanks to its smaller proportions, you could say it's even more purposeful. The 2-door versions of the C-Class, in the form of the coupe and cabriolet, have their own sense of style, with the coupe looking particularly strong. All can be further emboldened with the Night Package, which adds sporty AMG Line performance elements, gloss black exterior accents, and darkened 18-inch AMG wheels.
The C-Class drives with a similar stateliness as its E-Class and S-Class brothers, but in smaller, nimbler form. While comfort and quiet are top of mind, the C-Class is easy to hustle. In fact, the 2018 C-Class is beguilingly quick, and its turbocharged 4-cylinder feels more powerful than its stated 241 horsepower. With the new 9-speed transmission, the C300 now runs to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds, 2/10ths of a second quicker than last year. And while we've had our issues with 9-speed automatic transmissions in other cars, in the C-Class we didn't experience any hesitancy or refinement issues. Various drive modes are on top via the Dynamic Select dial, and they truly change the personality of the car, with the Comfort, Sport and Sport+ modes doing justice to their names in both acceleration and cornering dynamics. (There's also an Eco mode for the efficiency-minded.) Speaking of fuel economy, the C-Class is fitted with a stop/start system that cuts engine power at idle. If you're like us and have qualms with the engine shutting down and abruptly restarting, know the system can be turned off.
The 2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just over $41,000, including destination charge. Base C-Class coupe models start at just over $44,000, while the C-Class convertible jumps to starting price of over $52,000. Adding all-wheel drive to any model is an extra $2,000. The C-Class Plug-in Hybrid, available as a sedan only, starts just over $47,000. Options and packages can easily lift these prices by thousands. A C-Class sedan, for example, can reach into the mid-$50,000 range. At these prices, the C-Class sits above most competitors. A base C-Class would be in lock-step with the BMW 3 Series, if not for the newer and lower-priced 320i. Other rivals, such as the Audi A4, Cadillac ATS, Lexus IS and Jaguar XE also start lower. Several thousand lower are the Volvo S60, Infiniti Q50 and Acura TSX. Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for their new Mercedes C-Class. The Mercedes' resale value is expected to remain quite strong, though possibly not quite as high as that of the Lexus IS.
As should be expected from a German luxury car, even a base Mercedes-Benz C300 includes a laudable amount of features, technology and safety systems to complement its badge appeal. Among the standard features are power front seats, dual-zone climate control, a sunroof, power-folding mirrors, and a brake-hold feature that can give your foot a break at stoplights. Standard infotainment includes a 7-inch high-res display and central rotary controller, AM/FM/HD Radio, dual USB audio ports, and Bluetooth streaming. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto can be bundled for an extra $350. The C-Class' standard safety systems include an automatic emergency braking system and another system that monitors for driver drowsiness. C-Class convertibles come with the nifty Airscarf neck-level heating system and heated front seats.
Whether you want in-car Wi-Fi, a power rear sunshade, a hands-free trunk, or the ability to check on your car via a phone with the mbrace Connect service, there are plenty of ways upgrade the 2018 Mercedes C-Class. If you real leather instead of the faux MB-Tex upholstery, that is extra. Other options include heated and ventilated front seats, a panoramic roof, and performance-oriented suspension and brakes. In the "just cool" column are that in-cabin fragrance system with your choice of fragrances, a head-up windshield display, and a system that helps you parallel park. If you opt for the navigation system, you'll also get a larger 8.4-inch center display.
BURMESTER AUDIO SYSTEM
You may never have heard of this high-end German audio brand, but once your ears hear the sound of this system, they'll never forget it. This 13-speaker, 590-watt audio system is an aural delight, and even its stainless steel speaker housings please the senses. At $850, it's a steal.
This package bundles significant active safety and driving aids, features that can make driving less stressful and potentially save a life. They include an adaptive cruise control system with a Steering Assist function that follows the road, and even the ability to stop the car if a pedestrian enters the road.
Under the Hood
The standard engine in the C300 sedan, coupe and convertible is a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that makes a healthy 241 horsepower. Rear-wheel drive (RWD) is standard, and all-wheel drive (AWD), which Mercedes calls 4Matic, is optional. For 2018, all are now linked to a 9-speed automatic transmission. Still using the 7-speed automatic -- a good transmission in its own right -- the C350e Plug-in Hybrid pairs a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder with an electric motor to make a combined 275 horsepower and a stout 443 lb-ft of torque. Beyond more power, the system results in markedly more fuel economy: the mile-per-gallon equivalent (MPGe) of 45/61 city/highway. On electricity alone, it won't take you far, with the EPA putting its range at about 8 miles. The C350e is rear-drive only. If you're power hungry, the C-Class is available in high-performance Mercedes-AMG variants boasting up to 503 horsepower. Those models are reviewed separately.
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 (C300 sedan, coupe, convertible)
241 horsepower @ 5,550 rpm
273 lb-ft of torque @ 1,300-4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/33 mpg (RWD, sedan), 22/30 mpg (RWD, coupe), 23/32 mpg (AWD, sedan), 22/30 mpg (AWD, coupe), 22/29 (RWD & AWD convertible)
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 + 60kW electric motor (C350e)
443 lb-ft of torque
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 45/61 MPGe
The 2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class compact luxury car is a prestigious chip off the old block. Its design, technology and very essence are derived from the S-Class, Mercedes' nearly 6-figure flagship. The C-Class is far more attainable, and if the S-Class shouts that its driver has made it, this one says theirs is getting there. This is even more so with the C-Class coupe and convertible, which trade 5-passenger practicality for stylistic flair and a carefree attitude. Against its BMW 3 Series archrival, the C-Class tends to have slightly softer manners, but is still impressively athletic when pushed. Equally notable are the C-Class' roster of tech/safety features and amenities, right down to the interior fragrance system that broke ground in the latest S-Class.