Canyon carver to highway cruiser. Depending on what you’re looking for, chances are that there’s a 2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class out there for you. Being available in sedan, coupe, and cabriolet body styles gives the C-Class nearly unrivaled levels of availability. While the sedan body style is undoubtedly the most popular, having options is never a bad thing.
Additionally, there’s not a bad-looking C-Class on sale today. The compact luxury car shares a lot of similar design elements as the midsize Mercedes-Benz E-Class and large Mercedes-Benz S-Class, while having a look all its own. Even the AMG models, which feature wider tracks, larger wheels, and more aggressive curves, don’t ditch their upscale designs entirely.
The C-Class looks just as good on the inside as it does from the outside. The cabin is an excellent mix of modern, while having an old-school luxury feel to it. The largest issue you’ll run into is the dizzying number of available upholstery and trim choices, but the majority of them all look and feel high-end.
Plenty of performance.Mercedes offers four different powertrains that range from good enough to absurdly powerful. Few will find the standard 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine to be down on power. It cranks out 255 horsepower, which is average for the class and is equipped to a smooth nine-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard, though the optional all-wheel-drive system is a worthy upgrade.
For the majority of consumers, the mid-level AMG C 43 will prove to be the sweet spot in the lineup. This model comes with a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 that’s good for 385 hp. As with all AMG models, all-wheel drive is standard.
If you’re after real performance and an engine that’s straight from a supercar, look no further than the AMG C 63 and AMG C 63 S. These come with hand-built 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 engines that make 469 hp and 503 hp, respectively. Handling may not be as razor sharp as other high-performance compact cars, but the thoroughbred AMG models have what it takes to embarrass sports cars on a track.
Modern, high-tech features. Over the past few years, luxury brands like Mercedes have continued to pack even more tech into its vehicles. For 2021, the C-Class now comes with a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster as standard. It sits alongside a 10.25-inch center display, which joined the lineup last year.
Instead of being a touchscreen, the infotainment system is used via a centrally located knob or touchpad found on the steering wheel. The system takes some time to get used to and is difficult to operate while driving, but it’s responsive and has great graphics. Other standard features include Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, two USB ports, Bluetooth, and an HD radio.
Some of the more impressive available tech features on the C-Class include car-to-X communication, a safety system that prepares the vehicle in case of a collision, a parking damage detector, and route-based speed adaption.
Pricey, but plush. While the C-Class has a noteworthy cabin for the class, you'll have to top for some pricey options if you're looking for the best. Synthetic leather upholstery is standard, as are heated front seats, a sunroof, and dual-zone automatic climate control. Overall, these features make for a nice cabin, but things really start to get opulent when you tick a few optional boxes.
Nappa leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, 64-color ambient lighting, a Burmester audio system, and wireless charging are all available. Unfortunately, none of these features are cheap, and can quickly drive the vehicle’s price tag into midsize territory.
Pricing for the base C 300 stats at $42,395 including destination. Tick a few options, and things can quickly rise to over $50,000. With a lot of extras, the gap between the C-Class and E-Class shrinks drastically.
While the cabin is luxurious in styling and comfort, one thing that’s hard to overlook is the space. Taller passengers will find accommodations to be tight in the back, especially if the front passenger has their seats positioned further back. The C-Class’ small trunk is also a little disappointing. The sedan offers just 12.6 cubic feet of cargo space, while the convertible has 8.8 cubic feet.
Final Thoughts. The 2021 Mercedez C-Class is such a well-rounded option, there’s little reason to check out any of its competitors. Seriously. It’s that good. Available with great engines, excellent tech features, a high-end cabin, and a gorgeous design, the C-Class is better than it’s ever been.
Our only real gripe with the C-Class is its tiny trunk and cramped rear seats. Other than that, it’s a winner.
The BMW 3-Series is the C-Class’ archnemesis and could trade punches all day. It’s similar to the C-Class in nearly every single way, but is slightly sportier and has a more aggressive design. If you’re looking for something that’s a better value option, the Genesis G70 is an excellent choice. It’s not as powerful as the C-Class, nor is it available with the same high-tech features, but it’s packed with all sorts of standard features, has a longer warranty, and is available with a manual transmission.
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