Mercedes-Benz C-Class vs. BMW 3 Series
Find out how the premium German brands stack up against each other
When it comes to premium cars, few names stand out with such prominence as Mercedes-Benz and BMW. These two renowned German rivals have been competing for decades within the luxury vehicle market, striving to be the best.
If you’re in the market for a luxury saloon that combines elegance, performance and technology, then you’ve undoubtedly considered options from each — namely, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the BMW 3 Series. While both are destined to impress, you're most likely asking: which is the best for me? Here, we put these two titans to the test to answer this question. Read on to find out more…
If you haven’t already heard of these two acclaimed cars, here’s a quick introduction. The Mercedes-Benz C-Class is an executive saloon car first introduced in 1993 and has since become one of the best-selling and most-awarded models in the Mercedes-Benz lineup. It’s currently in its sixth generation for 2023 and is known for its elegant design, refined interior and smooth performance.
Similarly, the BMW 3 Series is an executive saloon car first introduced in 1975 and, in time, has become one the most popular and influential models in BMW’s lineup. In 2023, BMW introduced the seventh generation of the 3 Series that, as with previous generations, has been highly praised for its sporty design, dynamic handling and powerful performance.
Both the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the BMW 3 Series have distinctive and attractive designs that reflect their brand identities. From the outside, the C-Class takes on board a sleek and sophisticated look, with a large winged grille, LED headlights and smooth curves. The 3 Series on the other hand has a sporty and aggressive appearance with a prominent kidney grille, sharp angles and muscular proportions.
Upon stepping inside the cabins of these premium saloons, you’ll find top-notch craftsmanship across the board. The interior of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class presents itself as more luxurious and refined than the BMW 3 Series with plush leather seats, a minimalist dashboard and dual 12.3” screens blended into the aesthetic (as seen in the 2023 model). The 3 Series instead has a more driver-oriented and functional layout, as evident in its curved display and sportier touches such as the aggressive lines, red accents and aluminium trim.
Performance is where these two truly shine. Over the years, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class has tended to offer a smoother quieter more elegant ride, prioritising ride comfort relaxed steering and the ability to roll through corners and soak up bumps. In contrast, the BMW 3 Series provides a much more dynamic, playful and agile ride with razor-sharp handling, highly responsive steering and tight precision through corners.
Engine breakdown and fuel efficiency
Both Mercedes-Benz and BMW offer a variety of iterations of the C-Class and 3 Series, ranging from traditional petrol variants to more efficient plug-in hybrid and high-performance models.
Going off the most recent 2023 models of the C-Class and 3 Series, Mercedes currently offers more choices with five different iterations available, including 2.0-litre and 4.0-litre V8 engines. BMW is less generous in the matter with only three iterations of the 3 Series available on the market, offering 2.0 litre and 3.0 litre engines.
When it comes to fuel efficiency, the C-Class has a slight edge over the 3 Series, allowing you to squeeze out a few extra miles — particularly in their base models. The table below represents this:
|Mercedes-Benz C-Class 2023||BMW 3 Series 2023|
|Petrol||40 – 44 MPG||34 – 44 MPG|
|Diesel||53 – 62 MPG||44 – 62 MPG|
Technology and features
As top-of-the-line premium vehicles, you can expect both the C-Class and the 3 Series to be equipped with the latest advanced features that enhance safety, convenience and entertainment.
For example, as standard both 2023 models feature automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, lane-keeping assist and rear-view camera. Other features that may catch your eye include wireless phone charging, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility and advanced connectivity through ‘Mercedes Me Connect’ and ‘BMW ConnectDrive’.
Size and practicality
Both cars offer sufficient space and comfort for five passengers, both within inches of each other in terms of dimensions and the same can be said for boot capacity — although the 3 Series has come out slightly larger in recent years.
As for size, the C-Class has previously come in slightly longer and wider than the 3 Series which typically has a longer wheelbase and a lower roofline. However, based on the dimensions for the incoming 2024 C-Class and 3 Series (shown in the table below) the 3 Series comes out slightly wider and the C-Class offers a lower roofline.
|Mercedes-Benz C-Class 2024||BMW 3 Series 2024|
|Length||4,686 – 4,842 MM||4,709 – 4,795 MM|
|Width||1,810 – 1,900 MM||1,827-1,918 MM|
|Height||1,400 – 1,494 MM||1,433-1,445 MM|
You’ll be indifferent to find out that when it comes to pricing, both the C-Class and the 3 Series have had similar starting prices over the years. Although, in general, the 3 Series tends to be more affordable than the C-Class. Going off the prices for the 2023 models (presented in the table below), a whole five grand more affordable in fact.
|Mercedes-Benz C-Class 2023||BMW 3 Series 2023|
Which is best for me?
Both the C-Class and the 3 Series are excellent choices for anyone looking for a luxury saloon that offers style, performance and the latest technology. As highlighted in this article, however, they have different characteristics that may appeal to different buyers.
In short, the C-Class is ideal for those individuals who value comfort, refinement and elegance, while the 3 Series caters to those who prioritise a sportier, responsive and more driver-focused experience. Ultimately, the best way to decide which one is better for you is to test-drive both and compare them yourself.
Get your next Mercedes-Benz or BMW at West Motors
If you’re still on the fence about choosing between the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the BMW 3 Series, don’t hesitate to get in touch. At West Motors, we are proud to offer an extensive selection of premium used cars, including an impressive inventory of Mercedes-Benz and BMW models. Contact us or visit our showroom in Uxbridge and our team will help guide you towards the right decision.