By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
KBB Expert Rating: 9.6
The Mercedes-Benz C-Class for 2016 has come into its own, a worthy adversary to cars like the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4. Fresh from a complete redesign last year, the 2016 car is larger, wider, lighter and more posh than previous-generation C-Class sedans. The C-Class offers new levels of luxury on the inside and ever greater performance under the skin, where a new C450 AMG model adds another option to the multifaceted C-Class lineup. And, while we’re pretty sure the C-Class won’t excite BMW autocrossers, it should appeal to those seeking big luxury-car trappings in a body not much bigger than a midsize sedan. Although the C-Class coupe was a carryover from last year, the new coupe will debut as 2017 model.
If your idea of a luxury car is one that pampers, impresses and occasionally thrills when the road turns winding, the 2016 Mercedes-Benz C-Class should prove a very satisfying purchase. Vast improvements in interior design and materials help the 2016 C-Class shed its “entry-level” status.
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For 2016, Mercedes-Benz’s C-Class gains a new trim, the C450 AMG, and drops the C400 from the lineup. The new C450 AMG performance sedan is intended to take on the Audi S4 and BMW 335i. Later in the year, a C-Class plug-in hybrid will be introduced.
With the exception of the AMG cars, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class was never known for its stellar athleticism. But, in the 2016 C-Class sedan something is stirring that might begin to...
... change hearts and minds. A lightweight body makes the C-Class feel more tossable, although there is still more steering isolation than with a similar-size BMW or Cadillac. On the flip side, the C-Class chassis demonstrates an undeniable solidity that reinforces a feeling of safety and competence. The C300’s 241-horsepower turbocharged engine is more than adequate for luxury buyers, but thrill seekers will want to opt for the 362 horses found in the C450 AMG, a car that splits the difference between the comfortable ride of the C300 and the sometime abrupt feeling found in the pricier C63 AMG. Traction is bolstered by MB’s excellent 4Matic all-wheel-drive (AWD) system, which is standard on the C450 AMG and available on the C300.
Once a feature found only on high-end Mercedes cars, the Airmatic suspension on the 2016 C-Class sedan helps control the ride and lessen the somewhat harsh feel afforded by the car’s run-flat tires. Four driver-selectable settings include Comfort, ECO, Sport and Sport +.
DRIVER ASSISTANCE PACKAGE
The Driver Assistance Package on the 2016 C-Class features active lane-keeping and blind-spot assist, available via the adaptive cruise control that makes driving in heavy traffic an effortless affair.
Lovely. Few other words suffice when it comes to describing the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan's interior, especially on the heels of the former generation, which had a cold, clinical demeanor. The C-Class comes 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 touch pad that responds 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.
At first glance, the Mercedes C-Class bears a strong resemblance to the E-Class and S-Class – and yes, it certainly does borrow cues including the aggressive front grilles, sweeping character lines, and taut rear end. However, the C’s compact proportions give it a more purposeful appearance that’s a bit sterner than the jaunty CLA. If you crave a snazzier look, the 3-pointed star on the grille can be lit up with LEDs for an extra $480, while a Sport package brings more aggressive bodywork and wheels.
The Mercedes-Benz C300 for 2016 features a decent amount of standard equipment, including dual-zone climate control, keyless start and a touch-pad-operated multimedia interface. A rearview camera is bundled into a $2,690 Multimedia Package, though it can be ordered a la carte for $460. Standard items on the C450 AMG get more substantial, including Bluetooth audio streaming, 14-way-power sport seats, AMG adaptive sport suspension, adaptive braking, Collision Prevention Assist and ECO start/stop. Optional features that are standard on most of the C-Class’s competitors include heated seats, navigation and leather upholstery.
There are seemingly endless ways to load up the C-Class’s amenities. Opt for the Interior Package, and you’ll get leather (which you’d think would be standard on a car of this caliber), ventilated seats, and multicolor LED ambient lighting. A Multimedia Package adds an 8.4-inch navigation screen, voice control and a 10-gigabyte music hard drive. The Parking Assist Package ($1,290) adds the Surround View camera and Parktronic w/Active Parking Assist. Airmatic suspension adds $1,190 to the C300’s premium, and if you’re looking for features you never knew you needed, you’ll want the cabin fragrance system for $350.
The 2016 C-Class sedan from Mercedes comes with a potent turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that acts as the base powerplant in the C300. It is mated to a 7-speed automatic gearbox. The C300 can be had in standard rear-wheel drive (RWD) or optional 4Matic all-wheel drive (AWD). The C450 AMG comes standard with 4Matic. The rear-drive AMG C63 models use a new 4.0-liter biturbo V8 that makes 469 horsepower or a headier-still 503 in the AMG 63 S.
2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 (C300 sedan)
241 horsepower @ 5,550 rpm
273 lb-ft of torque @ 1,300-4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 25/34 mpg (RWD), 24/31 mpg (AWD)
3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 (C450 AMG)
362 horsepower @ 5,500-6,000 rpm
384 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000-4,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/29 mpg
4.0-liter turbocharged V8 (AMG C63 sedan)
469 horsepower @ 5,500-6,250 rpm
479 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25 mpg
4.0-liter turbocharged V8 (AMG C63 S sedan)
503 horsepower @ 5,500-6,250 rpm
516 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750-4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25 mpg
The 2016 Mercedes-Benz C-Class has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $39,875 for a base, rear-drive C300 sedan. It’s easy to boost the price closer to $50,000 by adding a $2,700 Premium Package (heated seats, keyless ignition, premium sound), a $2,690 Multimedia Package (rearview camera, navigation). Opt for the C450 AMG ($51,725), and you'll still need to spring $2,880 for leather upholstery. At the top end, the AMG C63 S begins at nearly $74,175. With the Lexus IS sedan starting around $38,000 and the BMW 3 Series under $35,000, that leaves the C-Class on the premium end of the spectrum. But the Mercedes C-Class is expected to have strong resale and residual values, and it won last year’s 2015 Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Award in the Luxury Car segment. Check out the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for the new C-Class.