JOIN THE RULING CLASS
Comfort and style made this prestige Benz a bestseller MERCEDES-BENZ C-CLASS 2014-17
The Mercedes-Benz C-Class has been the default mid-size prestige choice for years. Incredibly versatile, the current shape — introduced in 2014 — comes as a sedan, coupe, cabriolet or wagon with petrol, diesel or hybrid engines. It has endured as bestseller in its segment thanks to striking good looks, comfort, build quality, driving dynamics and economy.
With the earliest examples now four years old and out of warranty, there are plenty cropping up in the classifieds as owners trade up to a newer car.
So is it worth considering a post-2014 Benz C-Class? The biggest chunk of depreciation has already happened so prices are appealing, although ownership costs such as servicing and tyres are relatively expensive.
Should oily things, electrics, technology, lighting or body panels go wrong or suffer damage outside Merc’s three-year warranty, you can also bank on a hefty bill. Overall the model has proved reliable, as would be expected of such a young Benz.
For this guide we’ll overlook the performance AMG C43 and C63 versions as they’re for a specific buyer (see prices panel) but that still leaves you with mammoth choice.
First decision is whether you want the allroundedness of the sedan, the slightly tighter but prettier dimensions of the coupe, the openair freedom of the cabrio or the practicality of the wagon.
Once you’ve chosen, gauge what model year, engine choice and specification your budget covers, obviously favouring those with some warranty remaining for peace of mind.
The sedan launched in August 2014. Entry levels were the C200 petrol and C220 BlueTEC diesel, both with 18-inch alloys, Artico manmade leather trim, LED headlights, electric seats and navigation.
Next were the C250, C 250 BlueTEC diesel and C300 BlueTEC Hybrid with more powerful 2.0-litre petrol or 2.1-litre diesel engines, the latter with a fuel-saving hybrid set-up. These featured real leather trim, 19-inch alloys, keyless entry and an active safety package, abetted by cracking performance.
In 2017 the C220 diesel (now simply C220d) was given a larger engine, the C250 made way for a more powerful C300 and the Hybrid turned into the C350e with an electric motor backing up the petrol for an incredible 2.4L/100km fuel economy claim, air suspension and limo-like pre-entry climate control.
The practical wagons arrived later in 2014 (Benz calls them Estates), mirroring their sedan variant specs.
The sexy Coupe landed in April 2016 in three grades. The C200 with 2.0-litre turbo petrol had AMG 18-inch rims, man-made leather, electric seats and navigation; the C250d diesel had 19-inch AMG wheels, real leather and comprehensive active safety; and the stonking 180kW C300 petrol had 19-inch AMG alloys, Burmester surround sound and a sports exhaust system.
Cabrios joined the show in August 2016 with the pricey and luxury-packed C200 and C300. Both had AMG wheels and real leather cabins, with kit mirroring their coupe cousins.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
There have been no major common faults reported at this early stage but it would be prudent to favour C-Classes with some warranty remaining and with complete service history through a Mercedes-Benz dealer.
Some owners have found the C-Class ride quite harsh on its run-flat tyres, not least where the larger 19-inch wheels are fitted.
Favour the higher spec cars with air suspension if you prefer a more cosseting ride and the choice of adjustable drive modes from Comfort to Sport Plus.
Air suspension is optional on some cars, so prioritise any used examples that have it fitted make sure it’s working correctly. Target cars where the first owner really splashed out on additional goodies.
The model has been criticised for chewing through tyres, sometimes after 20,000km or less. With a new set costing upwards of $2000, check any you’re considering has decent tread remaining.
Also make sure you can navigate the often complex dashboard and infotainment controls. The screen is small by modern standards and, frustratingly, isn’t a touchscreen.
The C-Class boot may not be as big as you’d expect, especially the Coupe and certainly the Cabrio, so ensure it suits your needs. If not, the wagon’s a pretty thing and worth considering.
Most owners lavish praise on C-Class cabin luxury and comfort but some suggest it’s hard to get a comfy driving position and long journeys take their toll. Take a long test drive to check you aren’t affected in this way.
With so many variants there have been numerous recalls on the model, none terribly serious. Check VINs against the list at productsafety.gov.au
Beautiful to behold and drive, the C-Class is the true Benz experience if you’re prepared for higher ownership costs. Diesels and hybrid versions bring incredible fuel savings but there is no wrong engine choice.
Choose the body style to suit your lifestyle and the spec to suit your budget and insist on a full service record.
ANDREW BINNS: I have a 2015 C250 diesel with AMG Line pack, so it looks superb with lower suspension and black 19-inch AMG alloys. Loads of torque from the engine so it goes like stink, smooth seven-speed auto and I get a real world 6L/100km generally. Comfort holds up well on long distances with the sports seats, there’s plenty of boot space and seats for four adults. My only criticisms are the steering is quite light and the tyres were expensive to replace and wore out quickly. Dealer service was expensive so I use a trusted specialist now. The only failure has been a park brake component, which was cheap to fix. Overall a fantastic car that looks more expensive than it was. I’d buy another.