From our first taste, the new C-class is good to look at and good to drive. Not quite as sharp as a 3-series, but more comfortable.

What is it?

Mercedes’ new contender in the junior executive class, which has the unenviable task of taking on the BMW 3-series.

This all-new C-class was developed entirely within a computer until late on in the prototype stage, and also embraces plenty of new technology in its production form: electronic dampers, a new generation of voice control, and S-class-style COMAND system to name but a few.

Essentially, though, it’s the familiar recipe of sophisticated suspension and rear-wheel drive.

There’s a predictable – yet carefully developed – range of engines from the four-cylinder petrol to the V6 350 and diesel 320CDi engines.

What’s it like?

We tried the C320 CDi in Sport trim. The fact that it was a Sport is now quite important, because Mercedes has put more air between the differing trim levels in the range.

An Elegance is very much the luxury variant; a Sport gets switchable dampers, a quicker steering rack, an AMG bodykit including a totally different grille and sportier interior.

In the glinting black of our test car, the Sport looks really rather effective indeed. Mercedes has really tried to put the gravitas back into the C-class and the mixture of current S-class themes and the big, upright grille – like that on a 1980s 560 SEC – give this car genuine presence.

At town speeds and when cruising the C320 is a very easy and relaxing car to drive. The steering is light but accurate and the ride – on these ripple-free Spanish roads at least – is very smooth when the dampers are set to normal.

There’re oodles of grunt on tap from the refined V6, and the seven-speed automatic gearbox shifts smoothly.

As a sports saloon it’s not quite so successful, if still a highly competent steer. There’s plenty of grip and composure up until eight-tenths, beyond which it lacks the genuine sporting poise and entertainment of a 3-series.

Nevertheless, the C-class is roomier than its Bavarian rival, with a bigger boot and better ride. It also gets much more attention from passers-by.

Should I buy one?

If you're about to replace your compact exec saloon, you should certainly try one. Although it doesn’t offer quite the entertainment of a BMW, based on this initial sampling the new C-class is a strong all-round package.

Adam Towler

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Midasman 23 January 2008

Re: Mercedes-Benz C320 CDI

I took delivery of my C320 CDI 4Matic a month ago and to be honest it has got to be one of the best cars I have ever driven. I placed the order for it back in June at the Barcelona Motor show and during the following six months had the opportunity of reading all that there was to be read on this model. I began to feel during this time that perhaps a cheaper model would have been better, perhaps the new Audi A5, as not all the test reports I read were 100% positive, in short I was having serious doubts, and expensive ones ginen the cost of the car + 57,000 Euros. However, I have been unable to find any of the negative remarks made about the car to be true, the only fault, if you can call it one, is a sometimes slow kickdow, but that is inherent in all automatics except the new twin clutch types.

I chose this model as opposed to a BMW as I believed that Mercedes had finally made a model to compete on equal terms, and I wasn't wrong. If any one out there is having doubts, take a test drive as this model is now available (it wasn't when I placed my order) and give it a spin, you'll love it.


Tony Jordan, one very happy C320 CDI 4Matic owner in Barcelona