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At the height of compact luxury models sits the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and BMW 3-Series.  These two have been at it for a long time going back and forth with their features and benefits.  Nearly a decade ago it appeared the two were on the same path to greatness which simply meant a difference in the badge on the car, but there is a completely different story now.


The styling of the C-Class has become much more striking and beautiful than ever.  This car actually looks like a smaller version of the S-Class flagship sedan for Mercedes-Benz as it exudes confidence and sophistication.  The overall design is absolutely elegant and offers a variety of textures and colors on the inside of the car.

The 3-Series, on the other hand, looks basically the same as it always has.  The only real difference in looks have been the rounding of the edges ad cars have gone from a square shape to one that is well rounded and attractive.  Even though the style hasn’t changed much the 3-Series continues to offer an athletic stance and businesslike style that attracts a very loyal following. Advantage Mercedes-Benz.


The power for both cars starts out at the base model with fuel-efficient turbocharged four-cylinder engines and twin-turbocharged V6 engines as the trim levels are climbed with the 3-Series having a turbo-diesel in its lineup as well.

The C-Class shows up with a 241 horsepower engine in the C300 and a 329 horsepower engine in the C400.  Both of the C-Class models offer a dynamic all-wheel drive system and show up as fantastic choices for power and performance.

The 3-Series may have the advantage when it comes to power starting with the 328i which offers 240 horsepower and the 335i offers 300 horsepower with the 320i having 180 horsepower and the turbo diesel in the lineup that is a real torque monster.  Even with the lower horsepower, the BMW models hold their own against the C-Class and also offer all-wheel drive on each model, which has been a benchmark feature for BMW for much longer than Mercedes-Benz. Advantage BMW.


Both cars handle exceptionally well which is expected from these automakers, but the C-Class seems to be better built for daily driving and not as much for sport unless the Sport+ setting is used.  The 3-Series can be equipped with a track-ready device and offers a more confident and aggressive handling on the road and on the track giving the 3-Series the advantage for handling.

Fuel Efficiency

The efficiency of each of these models is very comparable, but the 3-Series offers a great deal more in its lineup.  The diesel powered 328d shows up with a V6 engine and 32 city/45 hwy mpg and the ActiveHybrid3 has 25 city/33 hwy mpg giving the 3-Series the advantage due to the extended lineup offered.

Ride Comfort

The C-Class gained four inches in overall length and wheelbase, which should translate into a larger back seat, but it didn’t.  As the smallest of their model lines, both cars offer limited space for rear seat passengers, but do a fantastic job of having a great place for the driver and front seat passenger to enjoy the ride.  The overall quieter cabin, more spacious trunk and overall ride quality are all better in the C-Class, giving it an obvious advantage in this category.


The safety of the 3-Series is amazing and earned it some fantastic IIHS ratings.  The equipment aboard includes wide-angle and birds-eye view cameras, Active Blind Spot Detection, Lane Departure Warning and many others.  This give the initial advantage to the 3-Series.

For the C-Class the safety features include a full active suite which includes automatic braking, pedestrian detection and a driver alert system.  Overall, the C-Class wins with safety with its more extensive package of excellent safety features to help the driver keep things under control when behind the wheel.


Both cars have an outstanding array of technology features.  This includes telematics services, voice controls, navigation/infotainment system, Bluetooth hands free calling and audio streaming and the iDrive for BMW and COMAND for Mercedes- Benz have intuitive menu based systems.  To find separation is difficult, but the Siri Eyes Free and standalone screen that is in the line of sight for the driver gives the C-Class an advantage in Technology

Overall, both cars are amazing to drive and ride in, but when you are looking for a car that offers more personality, pampering and is more enjoyable to drive every day, the C-Class is the right choice.  On the other hand, the 3-Series offer more performance and an enthusiastic ride for those looking to have a car that can head out on the track when called upon to do so.

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