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2019 Mercedes-Benz C Class Review

2019 Mercedes-Benz C Class Review
Pricey and on the slighter side of mid-size, the 2019 Mercedes-Benz C-Class drops a beautiful cockpit, huge dollops of safety, and effortless AMG brilliance into the sport-sedan mix.

The 2019 Mercedes C-Class runs deep with upgrades, but a quick glance won’t reveal many of them. Most tuck in under the skin, and that works out beautifully, since the C-Class never met a handsome angle it didn’t like.

In C300 or AMG C43 spec (with AMG C63 yet to come), the 2019 C-Class flourishes with a new base engine, and revamped safety gear. We give it a 7.0 out of 10, with more points in play as fuel economy and safety await official numbers. 

Striking in profile, no matter whether a convertible, coupe, or sedan, the 2019 C-Class hasn’t had its body altered, just tweaked. The grille’s gone for a diamond pattern, the ribs that cross it have been twinned. LED headlights and taillights brighten its outlook. Inside Mercedes has left the C’s fabulous style alone, save for new coffee-colored wood trim and an optional wide-screen display for infotainment.

Power this year for the C300 issues out of a new 2.0-liter turbo-4 with stop/start, teamed to the carryover 9-speed automatic. With 255 horsepower, it’s up 14 hp from last year, and can squirt to 60 mph in about 6.0 seconds no matter the body style, or whether it’s fitted with all-wheel drive. A base steel suspension still offers an upgrade to air springs and adaptive dampers, a spendy change but well worth the transformation in handling, from firm-riding sport to all-road ready.

The Mercedes-AMG C43 spools up more power from its twin-turbo V-6. It’s up from 362 to 385 hp, and good for 60-mph runs in under 4.6 seconds. With its 9-speed automatic, AMG-tuned suspension and driver-selectable settings, it’s three-quarters of the way to the bonkers AMG C63 without the considerable exhaust and cost overruns, with the compliant jitter-free ride that bridges commuting blahs and weekend thrills. We’ll report back more when we drive that C63 on the track soon, and when Mercedes updates the plug-in C350e hybrid early next year.

Plush as it is, the 2019 C-Class cabin leaves less space for rear-seat passengers than some rivals, though it’s still fine for moderately long car trips. The base front sport seats have good support; the available performance seats have excellent upper- and lower-body grip, not to mention heating and cooling. Storage space is slighted somewhat, especially in convertible C-Class Cabriolets, though.

Crash-test scores haven’t been perfect, but this year the C-Class adds much of the high-tech safety gear found on the E-Class and S-Class, from active lane-change assist to blind-spot monitors that order the car to steer clear of oncoming hazards.

Replete with a futzy infotainment system that we override with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the 2019 C-Class has options for rich leather upholstery, Burmester sound, voice-activated navigation, even an in-car fragrance dispenser that indulges the only sense left, once the C-Class has tickled all the others.

Styling
Pretty coupes and convertibles and elegant sedans make up the 2019 Mercedes-Benz C-Class family portrait.

Beauty goes beyond skin-deep in the 2019 Mercedes-Benz C300 and AMG C43. The coupe and cabriolet have particularly attractive shapes, while the sedan’s sloped rear end has the same elegant appeal as the bigger E-Class and S-Class sedans.

And yet it’s the cabin where the C-Class makes its mark. It’s an 8 here for above-average bodies and an excellent interior. 

Those larger sedans lent style to the C-Class back in the 2015 model year. For 2019, the changes do nothing to disrupt the fluid shapes and balanced details.

Mercedes grafts new front and rear ends on all models, and graces them with LED headlights and taillights, with multi-beam technology offered as an option. The silhouette remains the same, with a long nose, a tall glass area, and a stubby trunk that integrates better on the lissome coupe than on the sedan. Even the C300 can wear AMG-style wheels, trim, and a new diamond-patterned grille-or carbon-fiber or blacked-out trim.

AMG versions go full-bore into the enthusiast catalogue with small spoilers, big air-intake nostrils, a handful of AMG badgery scattered around the fenders and decklid. Any C-Class can wear a light-up three-pointed star; your tastes may vary.

The C-Class cockpit is where all the allusions to the big S-Class come to bear. The waterfall-style panel of center-stack controls sprouts wings that span the interior, circular air vents that stud the surface, and trim that ranges from open-pore walnut trim, to carbon fiber, to aluminum. Some models get a larger 10.3-inch display that sits, hotel-TV style, on top of the dash, and some also have a digital 12.3-inch display where conventional gauges sit. A new steering wheel offers touchpad input for infotainment, tucked in a swath of silver-painted trim.

AMG models pair piano-black plastic or wood or carbon-fiber trim with sueded nappa or standard leather on the seats and a choice of seat-belt colors: red, black, or silver.

Performance
The 2019 Mercedes C-Class shows hints of brilliance in C300 form; in C43 AMG trim, it pulls out all the dazzling stops.

Choice can get confusing with the 2019 Mercedes C-Class. Engines, drivelines, suspensions, it’s all up for grabs.

Let us reassure you: any way you reach out of the C-Class bag, you’ll draw out winning ride and handling. Just prepare to be flattened if it’s the AMG card you draw.

We base our ratings on the most common versions of wide-ranging car lines such as the 2019 C-Class, so here it’s a 7, based on the C300 sedan, coupe, and convertible. Feel free to add a couple of points for either the C43 or C63. 
Mercedes says it’s replaced as much as 50 percent of the C-Class in the 2019 model year. A lot of it’s invisible, but one of the more important changes is a new base engine. The 2.0-liter turbo-4 mirrors last year’s displacement, but with a more effective twin-scroll turbocharger, the new inline-4 develops 14 more horsepower, for a total of 241 hp. Torque stays at 273 pound-feet, and acceleration should remain the same at about 6.0 seconds to 60 mph.

Grunty and a little forward in its noise, the turbo-4 spools up to hit peak torque at low engine speeds in a way that’s completely familiar from last year’s model. It’s a lot to ask for the turbo-4 to clip off passes at 120 mph on the Autobahn, but ask we did-and it delivered. Top speed, we found out, arrives at 130 mph.

Rear-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive available. All C300s sport a 9-speed automatic with a knack for making the most of the turbo-4’s output. Paddle-shifted in sport mode or left to its own patterns in normal, the C300 has plenty of low-end boost and instant-on acceleration. It lacks the crackly AMG exhaust note and the high-revving frenzy, but pulls with a decent head of luxury-car steam.

We’ll have to wait for EPA official ratings to determine if the promised fuel-economy gains materialize.

Mercedes-AMG C43 and C63
Performance gains announce themselves on the uprated C43 AMG. Its replumbed twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 engine has stronger forced induction, for a total of 385 hp, up from 362 hp; torque stands still at 384 lb-ft. With typical V-6 grotty undertones and a lovely froth of AMG exhaust sounds up top, the C43 drops 0-60 mph times of about 4.5 seconds, but still stops at the 130-mph limit.

The C43 makes a convincing back-road weapon, with willing acceleration in nearly every one of its nine forward gears. It offsets its V-6 engine noise with the AMG whuffle, and splits its copious power to the rear with a 33/67 torque bias, then damps it across the rear wheels with electronic torque vectoring.

Any more, and you’re asking for the C63 AMG, due for a retune and a later model-year arrival (stay tuned for those impressions). In 469-hp or better yet, 503- C63 S trim, it’s a snarling, slightly bonkers offshoot of the C-Class that smokes tires like Jimmy Dean does sausages.

2019 C-Class ride and handling
The latest C-Class has nothing to fear from great-handling cars like the BMW 3-Series and Cadillac ATS. In peak form the AMG C-Class drives with brio and confidence that Mercedes has only channeled best in this latest generation of sedans.

Every C-Class has electric power steering. Even the C300 has quick programming and a precise feel that delivers real road feedback, whether the car’s driver-selectable modes default to comfort, or are tweaked into either of its sport modes.

Base cars come with steel coils and standard shocks, but the C-Class can be upfitted with adaptive dampers and air springs. It’s the ideal setup, one that gives the C300 a comfortable and smooth ride, and all but filters off body lean. The C300 can stay flat through very tight corners, even while it soaks up dints and dings or otherwise blemish-free roads. In generations past, the C-Class has let the base 3er outpoint it in road manners; this one gives up no ground.

AMG-fitted cars inhabit an entirely different world. The C43 AMG skips the air springs, mandates the adaptive shocks, and tells the all-wheel-drive system to send 33 percent of its power always to the front, 67 percent to the rear. If you think it’s formulatic, tap the start button and send the C43 on a lane-and-a-half-wide mission to sniff out the fastest route. With its upsized brakes, and sticky 19-inch wheels and tires, the C43 AMG crackles with most of the thrilling, power-down cornering baked into the C63 S. It’s a three-quarter step in the AMG direction, not a tentative half-step up from the C300.

Mercedes-Benz C350e
In the 2018 model year Mercedes added a C350e plug-in hybrid to the C-Class family. It placed a a 60-kilowatt (80-horsepower) electric motor between the former 2.0-liter turbo-4 engine and an older 7-speed automatic transmission. Net power reached 275 hp. Mercedes will update this model sometime in the 2019 model year, and will likely add more battery capacity to boost the plug-in’s 9 miles of electric drive range, and with any luck, the combined 30-mpg fuel economy that barely nudged out the gas-engined C300.

Comfort & Quality
Lush cockpit trim and excellent front seats offset the 2019 Mercedes-Benz C-Class’ skimpy rear seat and storage space.

With today’s C-Class, Mercedes has left the compact-car class to its smaller CLA-Class. The 2019 C300 and C43 are closer to mid-sizers, though even in the sedan, rear-seat passengers won’t revel in space.

Still, we give the 2019 C-Class a point above average for its excellent front seats and another for its tightly composed and neatly finished interior, for a 7 out of 10 here.

The C-Class family of sedans, coupes, and cabriolets measure about 184.5 inches long, and each rides on a 111.8-inch wheelbase. That’s enough spread-out space for Mercedes to fit very supportive front seats with power adjustment, good mid-back support, and extending thigh supports. AMG editions get the sweeter treatment: sueded, grippy sport seats with power adjustment for their thigh bolsters and headrests, all of which let the driver dial in a perfect spot behind the AMG three-spoke, flat-bottom steering wheel.

Sedans have enough back-seat space, while coupes and cabriolets squeeze out just adequate small-person room. The C-Class grew in this generation over previous versions, but the rear-seat space still doesn’t have the knee or leg room to suit anyone over six feet tall. The doors don’t make it easy to enter the rear sedan seats, and coupes and cabriolets have less shoulder room and a tougher entry point.

Storage space is slighted somewhat, with a 12.6-cubic-foot trunk on sedans, 10.5 cubic feet on coupes, and 8.8 cubic feet on convertibles. Sedans have a pass-through from the trunk and fold-down rear seats for more versatility, but if it’s space you want, you really want a GLC-Class crossover (or the marvy wagon we don’t get in the U.S.).

Where the C-Class excels unabashedly is in fit and finish. The glamorous look of the current Benz sedan lineup all but obliterates any memories of tacky, plastic-filled cockpits from the turn of the century (this one, not the 20th). Wind and road noise are wiped clean, panels of wood nestle closely against synthetic or real leather and metallic trim, and the C-Class can slather on coffee-colored open-pore wood and leather, or AMG-suited black and red trim, all of which give it a low-key, high-wattage glamour.

Safety
The 2019 Mercedes-Benz C-Class leads with safety technology, but crash-test scores have a blemish or two.

With crash-test scores not yet in for the 2019 model year, the new C-Class likely won’t change enough to alter the way we rank cars for safety.

We give it a 9 out of 10 for safety. We assume its scores will carry over from the 2018 model year, and think it has the right equipment and outward vision to elevate it above many compact-luxury rivals.

At last report, the NHTSA awarded the current C-Class a five-star overall rating. Within those, the C-Class earns four stars for frontal and rollover protection.

The IIHS reports “Good” test scores and “Superior” accident-avoidance hardware, but calls the C-Class’ headlights “Poor.” That may change with its new standard LED headlights, but for now, the IIHS doesn’t give the C-Class any kind of Top Safety Pick award.

Every 2019 C-Class comes with a driver knee airbag, the now-mandatory rearview camera, and forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking. LED headlights and taillights are now standard, too.

Options include a head-up display, a surround-view camera system, and active park assist. Mercedes also offers a suite of feature from blind-spot monitors to active lane control to adaptive cruise control with the ability to follow the car ahead.

New safety features trickle down from E-Class and S-Class and include speed-limit assist and active lane change assist. The C-Class now also has sensors that in the future will be able to communicate with infrastructure and other cars to prevent accidents.

Features
The 2019 Mercedes-Benz C-Class offers myriad ways to spend twice as much as its base price.

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class family of vehicles can bewilder the newbie who stares down its order sheet. Three body styles are just the start: each can be fitted with a turbo-4 with rear- or all-wheel drive, a twin-turbo V-6 with AWD, or a twin-turbo V-8 with AWD.

Each variant has excellent standard equipment and options on its list. The C-Class’ futzy infotainment system comes with a welcome override, and while its warranty is solid, it’s not the best in its pack.

We give it a 7 for features for excellent standard gear and options.

With a base price expected in the low $40,000s when it goes on sale late this year, to a peak of more than $80,000 expected for AMG editions, the 2019 C-Class lavishes the usual standard features on all models. The list includes power features, a power driver seat, synthetic leather upholstery, an infotainment system with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and a 7.0-inch display, Bluetooth with audio streaming, and USB ports. Coupes and sedans sport a sunroof, and coupes and convertibles have 18-inch wheels and walnut trim. For 2019, all models gain standard LED headlights and taillights, a new steering wheel with touch-sensitive controls, and smartphone integration.

2019 C300 coupes add a 10.25-inch display for infotainment, 19-inch wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, and a panoramic roof, while Cabriolet convertibles get neck-level air vents, heated front seats, and a choice of four top colors. Both get wireless smartphone charging.

Options include a full leather interior, a power passenger seat, navigation, and the in-car fragrance dispenser found in the S-Class and E-Class. Mercedes also lets C300 drivers dress up their cars with sport seats, metal or wood trim, AMG-style wheels, and nappa leather.

Infotainment and technology

Mercedes hasn’t installed its new MBUX infotainment system in the 2019 C-Class, but it’s made a wider 10.25-inch display available or standard on most models.

The more important feature it includes on all versions is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Though they’re not without their foibles, the stripped-down smartphone-derived interfaces are easier to work with than the COMAND system that requires touchpad, roller-knob, or voice commands that don’t always respond as quickly or intuitively as we’d like. It just can’t match the seamless action of a good touchscreen, something even BMW agrees with these days.

Mercedes balms the system again with an available Burmester audio system. The stunning sound that issues from the expensive setup has resonant lows and crisp highs, beautifully accented by cut-metal speaker screens that glint from around the cabin.

Fuel Economy
The 2019 C-Class should meet last year’s figures, but there’s no EPA data yet.

The EPA hasn’t yet published fuel economy ratings for the 2019 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Though it has a new turbo-4 in the lineup, we’re convinced last year’s ratings won’t change much.

Based on the 2018 figures, we give the lineup a 4 for fuel economy, as we’ve revamped scoring to reflect how electric vehicles now offer far superior efficiency than any gas-powered vehicle. 

We’ll update this page when the EPA releases data later this year. For 2018, the C-Class carried ratings of 24 mpg city, 33 highway, 27 combined, or 23/32/26 mpg when outfitted with all-wheel drive.

Two-doors posted lower numbers: the C300 Convertible checked in at 22/29/25 mpg with either rear- or all-wheel drive, while the Coupe posted ratings of 22/30/25 mpg, again with either drive orientation.

Gas mileage slipped considerably with AMG editions: C43 sedans were rated at 20/27/23 mpg, Coupes at 22 combined, and Cabriolets at 19/26/22 mpg. The AMG C63 S sedan came in at 18/24/20 mpg, coupes at 17/23/19 mpg, and convertibles, 17/22/19 mpg.

Mercedes added a C350e plug-in hybrid to the C-Class lineup in 2017. It sold the sedan in only a few states, and its economy story wasn’t strong. Its battery-only range of 9 miles and small 6.4-kilowatt-hour battery pack don’t provide much of a boost to efficiency. An updated model, with more battery capacity, arrives later in the model year.

We’ll update this section as more data is published.

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