- Drop-dead drop-top new this year
- Good looks everywhere
- Plenty of powertrain options
- Sharp handling
- No manual transmission
- Can get expensive in a hurry
- Cramped rear seat
- Not much cargo room
The 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class adds to the impressive roster with a convertible version this year and a newly minted AMG C43 version. Bavaria is even better now.
We're not sure we've had enough of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class yet. We think Mercedes brass knows it, which is why, two years after giving us the C-Class sedan, and one year after giving us the C-Class coupe, we're getting a spin-off C-Class convertible for 2017.
Next year? Watch out for the C-Class reunion episode.
The C-Class is available in sedan, coupe, and convertible form as a C300, Mercedes-AMG C43, C63, or C63 S. A C350e plug-in hybrid is due later this year.
Regardless of form, the C-Class earned a high 7.5 overall on our new scale, which is reflected in its stunning good looks and plentiful options. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Styling and performance
The striking exterior of the new C-Class can be deceiving. You’d be forgiven for mistaking it for the much larger and more expensive S-Class from a distance. But we like how the new C-Class doesn't just ape the Mercedes flagship; it has its own profile and its own details. Inside, the decision to swing for S-Class standards is even more apparent. Large round vents, a flowing center console, and inlaid metallic-look panels in the door all speak a design language that’s usually reserved for the executive luxury class.
AMG models add bigger air intakes, interior trim accents, and bright red suspenders—err, we mean seat belts.
Mercedes offers the C-Class with a bevy of powertrains, depending on your courage and budget, of course. The base C300 gets a turbocharged 2.0-liter turbo-4 that makes 241 horsepower and teamed to a 7-speed automatic. Available with either rear- or all-wheel drive, the C300 is a modest performer, running up to 60 mph in about 6 seconds.
Next up, the mid-range C43 (nee C450 AMG) gets a boosted V-6 that makes 362 hp mated to a 9-speed automatic this year. It's capable of sub-5-second runs up to 60 mph and it's strong at any point in its rev range. The engine sings through a sport exhaust in a pleasantly muffled way, and the adaptive controls for the sport-tuned air suspension, steering feel, throttle input and transmission shift timing all meld into a powerful piece that's deserving of the AMG initials, while leaving the truly bonkers acceleration and track-ready responses to the next step up the performance ladder.
The top of the line Mercedes-AMG C63 and C63 S do everything you'd expect a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 to do. The 469-hp or 503-hp banshee bellows up to 60 mph in 4 or less seconds, en route to 180 mph. It's a hammer compared to the ATS-V's chainsaw or BMW's M-Series scalpel. You choose the right tool for your job.
A C350e plug-in hybrid is on the way, which mates a turbo-4 to a battery pack good for 275 combined horsepower. We haven't yet driven that model, but we'll report back once we do. It'll be the efficiency champ when it arrives, most models average around 27 mpg combined, with performance versions hovering in the low-20s, high-teens.
Most C-Class sedans, coupes, or convertibles will have a standard suspension setup that's sharp and responsive. Air suspension adds to the bottom line, but also adds to overall comfort and capability.
Comfort, safety, and features
The luxurious C-Class cabin has grown along with the body, but not as much as we might have hoped. A longer wheelbase means more rear-seat leg room, and while 6-footers won’t have abundant space for knees, elbows, or crania, they’ll fit with adequate comfort for even fairly extended drives. The front seat is spacious, with plenty of leg, head, and shoulder room, though the width of the (rather beautiful) center console can impinge on side-to-side knee room for the longer-legged. Entry and exit to the back seat also seems to have fallen victim to the roofline and more aggressive door cutlines. Trunk space is just 12.6 cubic feet, though the rear seat backs flip forward easily (and flat).
The C-Class has fairly good safety record. The IIHS is a Top Safety Pick, but federal testers weren't as kind. The C-Class earned a five-star (out of five star) overall rating, including four stars in frontal and rollover crash safety. Put simply, the Audi A4 has a better scorecard.
All C-Class sedans get power windows, locks, and mirrors; a power driver seat; cruise control; keyless ignition; a rearview camera; and the COMAND interface with capacitive touchpad and a 7.0-inch display. Major options include leather; navigation; a power passenger seat; LED headlamps; an in-car fragrance dispenser (like the one in the S-Class); a panoramic sunroof; a lighting package with LED headlamps and Active Curve Illumination; a head-up display; a hands-free trunk closer; AMG Performance sport seats; and a Sport Package with AMG bodywork, AMG wheels, and a sport suspension.