2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

By January 28, 2021

The Mercedes Benz C-Class is a luxury car that leaves no stone unturned. Offered as a coupe, convertible, or sedan, the C-Class can be anything from a posh commuter to a precision track tool.

A 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster now classes up the interior of every C-Class, and heated seats are now standard. A new blacked-out Night Edition trim brings a sprinkling of AMG exterior trim and not much else.

The C300 uses the most modest powertrain on hand, a 2.0-liter turbo-4 making 255 hp. Power gets sent to the rear wheels unless all-wheel drive is ordered. A 9-speed automatic is the sole transmission choice.

Here on out everything is sporty, starting with the all-wheel-drive C43 AMG and its twin-turbo V-6 that makes 385 hp. The real darling is the 469- or 503-hp twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 that’s shoehorned into the engine bay of the pricy rear-wheel-drive C63 and C63 S models, respectively.

Stick with a four-door turbo-4 for gas mileage of 24 mpg city, 33 highway, 27 combined. Adding all-wheel drive deducts a single mile per gallon from the city rating but doesn’t affect the highway or combined cycle. Coupes and convertibles return a bit less as well.

The four-door C43 is rated at 19/27/22 mpg; the C63, 18/27/21 mpg.

Typical of luxury cars, standard safety equipment includes automatic emergency braking. Buyers have to pay extra for adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, and active lane control.

The IIHS named the C-Class a Top Safety Pick Plus thanks to its excellent crash-test scores and powerful headlights. The NHTSA gave it five stars overall.

Model Lineup

The C-Class starts at $42,650 for a C300 sedan and will easily double that by the time a fully-loaded C63 S is configured. Base models have heated power front seats, dual-zone climate control, synthetic leather upholstery, 18-inch wheels, and LED lights. The infotainment system consists of a 10.3-inch display screen that’s operated by a small touchpad found on the steering wheel or a large dial mounted on the center console. Two USB ports, Bluetooth, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto all come standard.

The C43 begins at $57,550, with the upcharge over the C300 mostly attributable to the twin-turbo V-6 and related hardware. The few additional standard features include 19-inch wheels, a Burmester audio system, and an interior featuring red seatbelts and suede trim.

The flagship C-Class is the $69,650 C63, which sports a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8. Nappa leather is about the only amenity uniquely standard on the C63; its feature count is otherwise identical to a C300. A C63 S adds a bit more hp for another $7,000.

Exterior

Despite their proportional differences, the coupe, cabriolet, and sedan all ride the same 111.8-inch wheelbase. Each body style retains its own dignified, handsome look befitting its door count.

The sedan is the most popular choice for obvious reasons. It doesn’t have the svelte styling of the coupe or convertible, but it suggests tasteful maturity. A long hood, defined trunk, and an upright roofline give it a much different look than most modern sedans, which often do their best to imitate a hatchback with their sloping roof. Even the AMG models don’t really suggest performance as much as they do serious formality.

Interior

The C-Class’ bold interior uses lots of contrasting trim and chrome as well as wood accents in the center console and climate-control faceplates. The infotainment system has a generously sized 10.3-inch screen.

The seats are firm and the standard synthetic leather doesn’t have much give, but support is excellent for long trips. Every seat is power-adjustable and heated, which is a nice touch.

The back seat is spacious enough for medium-size adults. The challenge is head room; even though the roof looks fairly tall from the outside, taller passengers might need to slouch.

The sedan holds 12.3 cubic feet of cargo in the trunk, while the coupe holds 10 cubes and the convertible 8.8 cubes when the top is up.

Driving impressions

The C-Class can be as sedate as anything else on the road in C300 guise, but the C43 and C63 transform the car’s character into something far more sinister. It truly spans the gamut in terms of performance and ride quality.

The only one that can really be said to ride softly is the C300. Sportiness isn’t really on the menu, but steering heft is good and the chassis is compliant. Bumps are soaked up nicely, without a hint of protest from underneath.

Compared to the C300, the C43 and C63 are different beasts entirely. The C43 employs stiffer springs and adaptive dampers to help it hold the road and slay corners; the C63 keeps the dampers but trades off those springs for an air suspension. While the C63 is clearly the more focused, both hustle down a twisty stretch of road with manic pleasure.

As for powertrains, it’s hard to fault any of them. The 255-hp turbo-4 in the C300 isn’t exciting, but it pairs nicely with the relaxed, elegant character of the character of the car.

The C43 has enough power to show drivers a good time but not enough to cost them their license. It sprints to 60 mph in under five seconds and sounds good doing so. It has just the right amount of punch and verve to keep the commute fun and interesting.

There really is no rational reason to upgrade from the C43, but the C63 was never intended for level-headed buyers anyway. Its 469 hp lets it barrel out of corners and sprint down straights with sheer intensity. The C63 S twists the knob for another 30 hp—unnecessary, but welcome.

Final Word

The 2021 C-Class is a versatile, luxurious, powerful luxury car. The smart money would stick with the C300 and add in one or two of the major option packages. The fun money? That would buy one of the AMGs.

 

—by Anthony Sophinos, with driving impressions from The Car Connection

 

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