Mercedes C-Class vs BMW 3-Series vs Audi A4 vs others

Lots of good choices for sure in this segment now! And every car brings something unique to the table.

Mercedes C-Class

What you’ll like:

  • Stunning looks & design . Matched to solid build quality too
  • Premium quality interiors, supportive seats, filled with technology
  • Useable rear seat, with better legroom than before
  • Wide range of engines; powerful 265-hp C300d for enthusiasts, workhorse C220d and a C200 for sedate drivers
  • Smooth & competent 9-speed AT gearbox
  • Well-damped suspension offers mature ride quality
  • Fun to drive (with the right engine)! Communicative chassis & excellent high-speed manners
  • The C220d (especially) & C200k are reasonably fuel-efficient for the segment
  • Equipment such as seat kinetics, latest-gen MBUX, panoramic sunroof, memory seats, electric steering adjustment…
  • Top notch safety kit, runflat tyres, powerful brakes & a suite of electronic aids to keep you safe

What you won’t:

  • C200 petrol’s 1.5L drivetrain feels just about adequate. Best for chauffeured use or for calm owners
  • There is no bigger or more powerful petrol engine option (like the C300d)
    Rs 55 – 61 lakh ex-showroom pricing is stiff! We find it overpriced
  • Boot space (already at a premium) is drastically impacted by the spare wheel on the floor
    Better as a 4-adult seater than 5
  • BMW’s 330i is the more fun-to-drive petrol sedan
  • IMHO, the faux leather seats just don’t cut it at this price point (3-Series gives real leather). No ventilated seats either
  • Styling is more of an evolution than a revolution. Also, looks very similar to other sedans in the Mercedes range
  • While it’s not unusual for premium sedans, you need to be careful on bad bumps. This car with 4 people and luggage bottomed out a few times during our Mussoorie drive

Link to Official Review

BMW 3 Series

What you’ll like:

  • Just the right size for a luxury sedan for India
  • Punchy rev-happy engine & well-tuned gearbox deliver superb performance
  • Great combination of ride and handling; just how a 3 Series should be
  • Big step up in interior quality & design (from the F30)
  • Loaded with tech, new style speedometer & more. iDrive 7 is nice to use

What you won’t:

  • Sad boot space with the spare wheel underneath
  • Features like keyless entry, HUD, Adaptive LEDs are expected at this price
  • Rs. 47 – 53 lakh price is stiff, although fat dealer discounts are available
  • Fake engine noise piped in; tad too fake for our taste

Link to official review

Audi A4

Link to BHPian sauravpat’s Ownership Review

Volvo S60

What you’ll like:

  • Astonishingly handsome styling! The Volvo S60 looks absolutely fabulous
  • Solid build quality is very satisfying
  • Sweet-looking cabin that’s loaded to the gills with features. Has sufficient room too
  • Spectacular Harman Kardon sound system. Easily the best ICE in the segment
  • Smooth & peppy 2.0L turbo-petrol engine mated to a competent 8-speed AT
  • Sorted ride & handling. The S60’s high speed stability is excellent too
  • Euro NCAP’s 5-star safety rating & loads of tech like adaptive cruise control, pilot assist, lane-keeping aid, collision mitigation support (front) etc.
  • Depth of engineering that is as good as the best from Germany

What you won’t:

  • A FWD car in a segment where RWD is the norm
  • Power & torque figures are lower than the competition
  • No diesel engine on offer with the Volvo S60. Those with high running will look elsewhere
  • The rear seat is placed too low, under-thigh support is poor and the floor hump is too big
  • The S60 is missing some features like paddle shifters, 360-degree camera, cooled seats…
  • Volvo’s thin dealer network in India
  • To many people, the Volvo brand doesn’t have the badge cachet of the German marques
  • Not as exhilarating to drive as the BMW 330i which is the segment benchmark

Link to official review

BMW M340i xDrive

What you’ll like:

  • Ferocious 6-cylinder turbo-petrol motor with 382 BHP on tap! Lives for 7,000 rpm
  • All-wheel-drive gives the BMW M340i leech-like grip & solid stability levels
  • Sporty, well-tuned exhaust note is addictive at high revs
  • The ZF 8-speed AT is the best gearbox in the segment. Fast & smooth
  • 0 – 100 in 4.4 seconds with 4-door everyday practicality. Go touring with the family!
  • Lovely cabin, premium build, very supportive seats & a fab driving position
  • BMW’s strong track record for reliability (among the luxury marques)
  • 5-star NCAP rating, awesome brakes & a laundry list of safety equipment

What you won’t:

  • Ride is much firmer than a regular 3-Series. Liveable, but you feel everything on the road
  • Sad boot space with a spare wheel
  • We don’t like the radiator grille, same rim design (as the 330i) and gunmetal-coloured ORVMs
  • Rear floor hump is enormous! Car is better as a 4-seater than 5
  • Your fuel costs will be a lot higher than say, a 530d
  • Runflat tyres come with many compromises, wear out soon & are expensive to replace
  • We hate the all-digital instrument console. Also, the rev counter is weirdly inverted
  • Some irritants such as the lack of keyless entry (!!!), w-i-d-e 6 meter turning radius & annoying speed warnings

Link to official review.

Lexus ES

What you’ll like:

  • Funky styling stands out from the crowd. Decently priced for a CBU too (imported as is from Japan)
  • Hybrid powertrain with good low-end torque and a butter-smooth CVT gearbox
  • Very good for city usage due to mileage and comfort offered
  • Loaded with kit (heated and ventilated front seats, 17-speaker sound system, heated and reclinable rear seats)
  • Lexus’ track record of reliability & exemplary customer service

What you won’t:

  • Weird front styling not to everyone’s taste
  • Not as much fun to drive as its German competitors
  • CVT can get lazy & noisy with a heavy right foot
  • Unintuitive infotainment system with a touchpad that is poorly positioned for a right-hand drive vehicle
  • Tiny sales network. Period

Link to drive report.

Audi A6

Link to BHPian hrk997’s Ownership Review

Here’s what GTO had to say on the matter:

Lots of good choices for sure in this segment now! And every car brings something unique to the table. My vote is simple:

Diesel = C300 AMG. Absolutely love what Mercedes has done with the new C-Class. The styling, interiors, it’s more fun-to-drive, adults can now actually sit on the rear seat and that 9-speed gearbox.

Petrol = M340i for just 5 lakhs more than the C300. This car is a monster; more power than you’d ever need on Indian roads, leech-like grip and daily-driver usability.

If my running was a lot (2000+ km / month), I’d get the C300 as powerful diesels give you the best of both worlds (performance + efficiency). But my running isn’t that high and I can live with 4 kmpl, hence it’s the M340i for me.

Here’s what BHPian karan561 had to say on the matter:

Wait a minute ! With almost 14 months of ownership of the M340i I have NEVER witnessed a 4 km/l figure. In Mumbai City, with mixed driving / mild traffic one can easily achieve anywhere between 6.5 to 9 km/l. In fact on highways when driven well it can achieve 14 – 15 km/l too.

Here are a few examples:

14 km/l on a 200 kms stretch achieved by a M340i owner in our group:

Another one of our group cars achieved 15.6 km/l over a 250km stretch:

Note: Its an M340i but has an Alpina cluster coded.

Note: Didn’t mean to go off topic but that 4 kmpl figure can be misleading hence thought i’ll contribute/clarify.

Read BHPian comments for more insights and information.

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