2020 Mercedes-Benz C-Class
2020 Mercedes-Benz C-Class
The 2020 Mercedes-Benz C-Class, available as a coupe, convertible or sedan, is one of the safest cars on the road. Depending on the engine–all three of them are exceptional–it can be docile or fire-breathing.
The entry-level C-Class is the 255-horsepower C 300, with rear or all-wheel drive. It has excellent acceleration, a slick 9-speed automatic transmission, and wonderful chassis tuning.
The AMG C 43 uses a 385-hp twin-turbo V-6; it’s a proper AMG. The AMG C 63 throws down 500 horsepower. It’s all that, and more.
Performance is a good reason to buy the C-Class, but styling is a close second. The sedans channel vintage Benz lines, coupes have their own rear ends, and convertibles look as good with their tops up as down.
Safety is a C-Class asset thanks to good scores and accessible advanced crash-avoidance tech that can also reduce driver fatigue on trips and in traffic by handling some duties on its own. That tech mostly makes up for an infotainment system that can be a bear to operate.
The rear-wheel-drive C 300 sedan is EPA-rated at 24 mpg city, 35 highway, 28 combined, while all-wheel drive gets a bit less. For some reason that must be aerodynamics, the C 300 coupe only gets 25 mpg combined, while the convertible gets 24 mpg.
The AMG C 43 is rated at 19/27/22 mpg, while the AMG C 63 comes in at 18/27/21 mpg, not bad for 500 horsepower.
Every version of the C-Class requires premium fuel.
The IIHS gives the C-Class its Top Safety Pick+ rating, although only cars with automatic high-beam headlights earn the top “Good” score; other headlights are “Acceptable.”
Federal testers at the NHTSA last tested the C-Class in 2018, but it hasn’t changed since then. They gave it five stars.
Automatic emergency braking and blind-spot monitors are standard. Adaptive cruise control is part of an optional package including active lane control, along with a system that allows the car to stop, restart, and hold its lane in traffic.
The C 300 sedan starts at $42,500 for rear-wheel drive, and includes synthetic leather seats, a power moonroof, a 10.3-inch screen and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay compatibility. Options include all-wheel drive for $1,900, as well as heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and Burmester audio. Automatic emergency braking is standard, while active cruise control and the advanced crash-avoidance features come in a package for $1,700—but first you have to buy $1,250 worth of navigation and voice controls.
The AMG C 43 adds features along with power, for about $57,000; the AMG C 63 costs about $70,000. There’s also a AMG C 63 S with 34 more horsepower, for about $77,000.
All Mercedes-Benz models are backed by a 4-year, 50,000-mile warranty.
The lines of the C-Class mirror those of the larger E-Class and S-Class, but the smaller proportions carry more grace. The front ends of the sedan, coupe and convertible carry a big three-pointed star, while the taillights of the coupe and sedan are different. In profile, the sedan and coupe share a handsome high-greenhouse silhouette. The chrome is subtle, enhancing the classy looks. A wide range of wheels means that no two Cs need look the same,
The AMG C 43 and AMG C 63 have optional AMG styling kits that border on ostentatious, with gaping lower intakes, rear diffusers, and side skirts.
The gorgeous curvy C-Class dash can be draped in a variety of veneers, from glossy wood to open pore ash or aluminum.
The wide 10.3-inch touchscreen hovers over the dash but somehow doesn’t look like an afterthought, as in other cars. However it doesn’t integrate with the available digital instrument cluster as nicely in the C-Class as it does in other Mercedes cars.
The power-adjustable front seats offer exceptional support, including extendable thigh support; they come in convincing synthetic leather, and can be heated, cooled, and equipped with a massaging feature.
The AMG seats have more bolstering and are a tighter fit. The AMG versions look largely the same inside, but with upgraded leather trim on the seats.
Rear-seat leg room is adequate in sedans, but not so in coupes and convertibles. The trunk is also smaller in those versions, at a mere 8.8 cubic feet; the sedans get 12.6 cubic feet of space.
Outward vision in the sedan is generally good, but convertibles and coupes have over-the-shoulder issues.
The C 300 sedan comes with a 255-hp 2.0-liter turbo-4 mated to a slick 9-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. It can sprint from 0-60 in just 5.7 seconds, which is quite quick, and this is the slowest of the three powertrains.
Most C 300s come with all-wheel drive, however the standard summer tires aren’t advised for winter conditions.
The steering is responsive but not too quick. The C-Class handles as well as the BMW 3-Series, which wasn’t the case until this generation.
The ride is supple on the standard suspension with coil springs.
The all-wheel-drive AMG C 43 uses a twin twin-turbo V-6 making 385 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque. It can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds.
The AMG C 63 uses a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 making 469 hp, while in the C63 S it makes 503 hp. It can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in an absurdly quick 3.8 seconds.
The AMG suspensions are tuned for more traction, and use taller wheels with grippier tires. AMG C 43s use adaptive dampers rather than an air suspension, while the AMG C 63 uses an even more finely tuned version of the adaptive dampers for a focused but not brittle performance feel.
The 2020 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is everything a Mercedes is expected to be. It sports brilliant powertrains and a supple ride, responsive handling—especially in AMG trim—as well as a classy cabin. Available as a sedan, coupe, or convertible, it’s a nameplate that’s earned its star.
—By Sam Moses, with driving impressions by The Car Connection