Benz packs more software and standard kit into the C250 and the interior looks and feels special even against $100,000 cars — one of the reasons it is Carsguide’s reigning Car of the Year. The warranty is better at three years/unlimited km and service intervals are longer, annually or 25,000km. The downside is the cost of servicing, which runs to $4580 for five years/125,000km. That pares back the value equation to put these two on a par.
The C-Class looks classier overall. Matt woodgrain finishes and the relative lack of switchgear mark the cabin as more modern. Adjustable damping gives it a more comfortable default low-speed ride than the BMW yet it will stiffen up and lower the car in the sports setting to handle high-speed corners with finesse and precision.
As good as the 2.0-litre turbo is in isolation, with figures of 6.0L/100km and a 0-100km/h time of 6.6 seconds it can’t quite keep pace with the BMW for economy and is smoked on acceleration,. Torque is identical to the 330i but power drops to 155kW and is fed to the rear wheels via a seven-speed automatic.
Stop-and-go adaptive cruise control, steering assist, blind spot, lane-keeping and rear cross-traffic alerts are supplemented by nine airbags. ANCAP tested the car last year and gave it an overall score of 36.46/37. The autonomous braking works from 7-250km/h for moving vehicles and 7-70km/h for stationary objects, including pedestrians. The Benz will self-park if required.
A match for the BMW in cornering prowess, it trails on outright pace. The steering is precise, with a near-perfect balance between weight and feedback. For those who aren’t in the mood to tap the dynamics themselves, cruise control helps negate the frustration of traffic snarls and the steering assist enhances freeway driving by automatically keeping the Benz in its lane.