There was a time when executive luxury sedans were seen as a gateway to luxury brands in India. However, with changing times, the demographics of the luxury car market changed as well. Now, the new gateways to these luxury brands are premium compact sedans and SUVs, while the executive sedans have moved one notch above and have taken the place of pride once held by premium midsize sedans.
Talking about executive sedans, two of the most reputable players in this segment – Mercedes-Benz C-Class and BMW 3-Series – have been the consistent choice of the buyers of this category. While BMW rewrote the rules of this segment with the seventh-generation version of the 3-Series in 2019, Mercedes-Benz has just dropped a bomb in the form of the all-new fifth-generation C-Class, which promises to fulfil the expectations of buyers by offering experiences one notch above. Here, we compare the latest iterations of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and BMW 3-Series available in India and find out which one of the two is worth making the stretch over an entry-level luxury offering.
While both Mercedes-Benz C-Class and BMW 3-Series belong to the same category, the premium pricing of the C-Class has made it a long stretch over the 3-Series. Both the sedans are offered in varied choices of petrol and diesel powertrains, the prices of which are as follows:
- C200 – Rs 54.50 lakh
- C220d – Rs 56.00 lakh
- C300d – Rs 61.00 lakh
- 330i Sport – Rs 46.90 lakh
- 330i M-Sport – Rs 52.90 lakh
- 320d Luxury – Rs 50.90 lakh
|Prices (ex-showroom, Delhi)
|Rs 54.50 lakh
|Rs 46.90-52.90 lakh
|Rs 50.90 lakh
|Rs 56.00-61.00 lakh
(All prices mentioned above are ex-showroom, pan India)
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Engine and Performance
When it comes to petrol engines, the bigger engine of the BMW 3-Series is leagues ahead of that of the smaller mill in the C-Class. The bigger 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine of the 3-Series produces 255 bhp of power and 400 Nm of torque, which is much more than the 201 bhp of power and 300 Nm of torque produced by the smaller 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine.
However, the story is different when diesel engines are taken into the debate. Both the sedans are powered by 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engines. The engine in the 3-Series produces 188 bhp of power and 400 Nm of torque. On the contrary, the diesel engine of the C-Class is available in two states of tune – the engine in the C200d variant makes 197 bhp of power and 440 Nm of torque, while the same engine in the C300d variant pumps out 261 bhp of power and 550 Nm of torque.
While the front-wheel-drive Mercedes-Benz C-Class is more oriented towards comfort, the rear-wheel-drive configuration of the BMW 3-Series offers a more pleasurable experience behind the steering wheel. Also, while the C-Class uses a 9-speed automatic gearbox as standard, the 3-Series employs an 8-speed automatic gearbox.
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|1.5-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol
|2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol
|201 bhp @ 5,800 rpm
|255 bhp @ 5,000 rpm
|300 Nm @ 1,800 rpm
|400 Nm @ 1,550 rpm
|2.0-litre inline-four diesel
|2.0-litre inline-four diesel
|197 bhp @ 3,600 rpm (C220d) / 261 bhp @ 4,200 rpm (C300d)
|188 bhp @ 4,000 rpm
|440 Nm @ 1,800 rpm (C220d) / 550 Nm @ 1,800 rpm(C300d)
|400 Nm @ 1,750 rpm
Exterior and Dimension
Both the sedans here match each other in terms of dimensions – while the BMW 3-Series is marginally longer and wider, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class is marginally taller and has slightly higher ground clearance on offer.
One look at the Mercedes-Benz C-Class is enough to describe it as a smaller version of the might S-Class. The overall design of the new C-Class looks sharper than the previous-generation version of the sedan while retaining its curvaceous appeal. In the process of transformation, the new C-Class gets sleeker and sharper looking headlamps and tail lamps, while the grille has grown larger as well.
On the other hand, the BMW 3-Series has been on the market for three years now, though it still manages to look as fresh as ever. The wider and wing-looking double kidney grille and dual-LED headlamps, arrowhead-shaped fog lamps and sleeker-looking LED tail lamps to make it look even sharper than the C-Class. In essence, the 3-Series’ design looks sportier and edgier in comparison to the elegant looking curves of the C-Class, which also doesn’t fall short in sportiness with its sleeker lights and grille.
Interior and Features
While the comparison of the exterior designs of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and BMW 3-Series is a close battle, the competition among the cabins of both the sedans is a clear victory in favour of the C-Class. The new-generation full-TFT rectangular instrument console, classy-looking steering wheel with capacitive buttons and slim spokes and a huge 11.9-inch portrait-style infotainment screen truly give it an impression of a much more modern and luxurious cabin.
While the 3-Series also get a cool-looking 12.3-inch full-TFT instrument console and 10.25-inch infotainment screen, the graphics and layout of the screens in the C-Class look more colourful, intuitive and fancier. Both the sedans are equipped with premium features like rich leather upholstery, powered front seats with memory function for the driver’s seat, three-zone automatic climate control, electric sunroof (double sunroof in C-Class), premium 3D sound system and more.
The Mercedes-Benz C-Class carries a hefty premium over the BMW 3-Series, which might encourage people to avoid it as a costlier proposition and go for the latter which has similar snob value. However, to some extent, the C-Class tries to justify its significant premium over the C-Class with its more powerful and refined diesel engine options, richer list of features and a much more modern-looking interior – a few aspects that buyers of this class consider deeply. But if you are someone who loves driving, the 3-Series is still the car to cherish the sheer driving pleasure.