Let’s get right to the elephant in the room when it comes to the Mercedes C400. It’s not cheap. Starting price is $48,590. Throw in all the bells and whistles that make this car spectacular and it could end up where my test car stickered at $62,905. That’s a lot of money. But then you get a lot of car.
I should make it clear that the C-class is not the baby of the Mercedes family any longer. That status belongs to the CLA-class. The C-Class has slowly gotten bigger over the years to the point that it’s almost a mid-sized sedan. It doesn’t look small and it doesn’t feel small. But it’s definitely not a big luxury car. Think of it as a sports sedan.
You can walk in the C-class door with a smaller check. The C300 starts at $38,400. For that price you get a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 241 horsepower. Same looks and style. But if you’re looking for more horsepower and all wheel drive, the C400 is the way to go. Incidentally, the C400 replaces last year’s C350.
You’ll get a 3.0 liter V6 biturbo engine with direct injection. It delivers 329 horsepower. 21 mpg in the city and 29 on the highway is pretty good. My week with the C400 averaged 25 mpg. It uses the stop/start system which turns the car off when you’re at a traffic light. I thought the Mercedes system was pretty good. The sensation when the engine shuts off is fairly mild and restarting on is even better. There is a button on the center console that disables that function if it annoys you. The engine is mated to a seven speed automatic. You can choose between driving modes to change your experience. I often note that with so many cars it’s hard to tell the difference between sport and comfort. Not so with the C400. Going sport or sport plus changes the shift points and there is a noticeable shift in performance.
The C400 looks like a Mercedes. Saying it looks like a smaller version of the E or S class probably doesn’t do it justice. It has a great aerodynamic shape with a beautiful Mercedes grill up front. Unlike the clunky old Mercedes W201 from the 90s, this car has elegance. It’s slightly restyled for 2015. Not a huge leap, but a nice refinement.
Inside, it is properly luxurious with just the right amount of wood, aluminum and leather (assuming you pay the extra price for real leather). The center console has a unique interface control. It looks like a palm rest, but it does a lot more working like a touchpad. Unfortunately, I kept resting my palm on it and activating things I shouldn’t. The one strange thing about the interior is the display. It looks like the engineers forgot to blend it into the design so they ran over and grabbed and iPad and just stuck it on to the dash. Audi has a similar look, but its display can fold down and disappear into the dashboard. The Mercedes display just seems out-of-place in an elegant interior.
The new C-class is slightly larger than last year’s model. It’s nearly four inches longer with two of those inches going to the back seat which stretches out the leg room.
The Driver Assistance Package cost an extra $2800, but I think it’s a good investment. You get Distronic Plus (keeping you at just the right following distance) with steering assist, active blind spot assist, active lane keeping assist, Pre-safe brake with pedestrian recognition, cross traffic assist and Pre-Safe Plus with rear end collision protection. Altogether these options could save your life or someone around you.
You have plenty of agility adjustments so you can set up the car just the way you’d like. There’s also an eco-mode to improve fuel mileage. I especially enjoyed the instrument display that showed when you were getting better mileage than expected. At the end of the trip you could see that you increased your range by an extra few miles by being more efficient.
The C400 comes with a four-year, 50,000 mile warranty. It’s also assembled in Vance, Alabama with 40 percent of its parts coming from the US and Canada. In fact, only 35% of the parts are from Germany.
If you’re looking for a true luxury car that will impress your passengers, you could opt for the Hyundai Genesis (read my 2015 review here) that delivers an awful lot of room and comfort for less money. But if you’re willing to spend more to get the quality, the style and the Mercedes cache, the C400 is a great option without having to bump up to E or S-class money.
Mercedes has a great video that highlights the C-Class. You can watch it here.