The all-new 2014 Mercedes-Benz C-Class was just launched in Malaysia earlier today, sporting two variants: the C 200 Avantgarde and the C 250 Exclusive. The new model is currently offered in CBU form only, while the sale of CKD units are expected to begin by Q2 next year.
As good as things appear on the surface, the coming of the latest-gen Mercedes-Benz C-Class has some stiff competition to face, in the form of the dominant BMW 3 Series (F30), which has been here since 2012.
But how do they compare? Well, if you’re in the market for either one of these German frontliners, this is one report you may not want to miss. Take note this report is not a comparison review, it is based on just first impressions. The local test drive report for the new C-Class will be out once we get the car, meanwhile you can read our quick review of the car in France.
Exterior Styling: Brawn vs. Beauty?
For style, the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class looks pretty like a shrunken S-Class – befitting its given moniker as the “baby S-Class”. The flowing lines and sculpted shape is classy and elegant, and largely contrasts that of the 2014 BMW 3 Series’ cut lines and sporty stance.
We’re not ones to argue with the old adage of beauty being in the eye of the beholder, and both carmakers have served up opposite ends of the spectrum which gives you clear cut choices to match your appetite.
Verdict: Both cars are handsome in their own rights, but we do see the F30 3 Series as starting to show its age – hopefully the coming facelift we’ve spied rights this. We’re voting in favour of the new C-Class.
The cabin design of the W205 has been greatly influenced by the flagship S-Class as well – and to anyone, this is never a bad thing. It oozes luxury and the materials used are miles ahead compared to its competitors. Everything from the wood accents to the seat adjustment switches, looks and feels top notch.
In the sort of spec you get locally, the overall 3 Series’ interior leaves much to be desired when you look at what the C-Class has to offer. Everything in the 3 Series functions well, and is ergonomic, but there’s really nothing much to wow you with, and show off to your mates.
Verdict: The F30’s shortcomings here isn’t particularly limited to just this model – the 5er, 7er and other models have shared a common design for the longest time. But it doesn’t take more than a quick glance at the all-new C-Class to see how much quality oozes out of it, and as first impressions go, the W205 wins the bout hands down.
This is another category that Mercedes-Benz’s latest offering appears to outshine the competition – seeing as how a good majority of what’s available to the S-Class has been poured over into the C-Class.
Locally, the BMW 3 Series seems a bit short on features, but this is partly due to the fact that Mercedes-Benz Malaysia just refuses to spec its cars with minimal features – all this comes at a price that you’ll have to bear, but that’s why the C 200 gets nearly as many goodies as the C 250 does, and is a cause for concern for the comparable 320i and the 328i. Don’t forget, the C-Class is still in its CBU form. The CKD should make the same cars and their spec list a lot more affordable.
Verdict: Be it creature comforts, infotainment equipment or safety features, the C-Class has this one won. There is everything from crash-responsive pedal unit to full LED lighting. The 3-Series however has the necessary creature comforts and safety tech but it is nowhere near as well equipped as the equivalent C-Class.
Drivetrain & Performance:
As far as power goes the W205 C200 outputs 184hp and 300Nm of torque, which is similar horsepower ,but 30Nm of torque more than its direct rival the F30 320i’s 184hp and 270Nm.
The C250 however, churns out 211hp and 350Nm of torque, while the 328i pumps out 34hp more and similar amount of torque as its rival.
Verdict: The C-Class was clearly never made to be as athletic as the F30, and having driven a few of them already, it wouldn’t surprise us at all if the better drive and sheer performance goes to the BMW. Plus, we know typical BMW figures to be far more modest than they actually equate to on the road, as our full review of the 316i recently demonstrated.
The new C200 Avantgarde is priced at RM285, 888 (RM44, 088 more than the 320i), while the C250 Exclusive will set you back RM314, 888 (RM21, 088 more than the 328i Luxury) – without insurance.
At this point, the measurements don’t quite add up because as mentioned, the BMWs have already begun their CKD operations, while the C-Class remains as CBU units for now, until their own locally assembly begins – we’re told that they’ll be up and delivering before Q2 next year.
Verdict: The fact remains that prices for the W205 C-Class will tumble by the time their CKD units hit showrooms, and if anything, their spec lists are only due to grow longer – if they change at all. By then, we should see the prices of the C 200 and the C 250 closely resemble that of the 320i, and 328i. We’ll let you do the math on which makes more value-for-money sense.
Results: Who do we pick?
Overall, the fourth-generation C-Class is an impressive bit of kit when compared to its arch rival, the BMW 3 Series. Undeniably, the Bimmer was as impressive when it first made its debut, but given the years it has served in the market, it’s plainly natural for it to be outshined by the classy W205 C-Class – especially when it has the flagship S-Class to pinch goodies off of.
Not forgetting that the 3 Series is due a facelift, the C-Class looks to have this one won for now. Nevertheless, each cars will have their unique qualities about them: the 3 Series as the dynamic athletic, and the C-Class as the luxury-minded sedan.
The choice really is yours, at the end of every day.