Mercedes-Benz is becoming increasingly shrewd in making its vehicles more desirable to drivers who might have previously chosen a car from one of its rivals.
Its latest strategy involves changes to the C-Class line-up, adding more equipment and making more use of the AMG performance brand – or more specifically, its styling.
It’s an opportune moment for Mercedes-Benz as, although the C-Class underwent the most extensive facelift of any Mercedes-Benz in spring 2011, it now has to face down a revised Audi A4 and a new BMW 3 Series.
The interior of the C-Class was changed for the facelift in 2011 and comes with a new dashboard design more closely resembling the larger E-Class.
All C-Class model have the grille-mounted three-pointed star emblem, while AMG Sport replace the Sport variants in the previous range but with a lower price point at £960 less than the outgoing derivatives.
One key weapon for Mercedes-Benz at the top end of the C-Class range is the 265bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine in the C350 CDI. It outguns the new BMW 330d by 7bhp and the Audi A4 3.0 TDI Quattro by 20bhp.
Ultimately, BMW’s EfficientDynamics technology wins the numbers game when it comes to CO2, fuel consumption and tax liability, but the C-Class holds its own against the Audi. Our running cost figures show the C-Class gets remarkably close in pence-per-mile terms for depreciation against the 330d, and has a comfortable margin over the A4 3.0 TDI Quattro.
It’s also a rewarding car to drive, although the seven-speed automatic doesn’t feel as keen as the eight-speed ZF transmission in the 3 Series.
However, the C-Class will appeal to some more than its rivals purely because it isn’t as familiar as Audi and BMW.