Should I Buy a 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class?

2015 Mercedes-Benz C 200 Blue Tec Review & Comparison: Should you buy one?

Some reviewers say the new Benz C-Class is a kind of S-Class mini-me that mere mortals can afford. But in truth the basic C-Class struggles for relevance against cheaper alternatives

See Mazda thrash Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz has done a sensational job manipulating the media’s reports on the new C-Class. Absolutely first-rate. It’s cost a great deal, globally, but the return on investment is certainly there, online, for you to read. I’ve done a full report on that. Full report on car company media manipulation >> But in all these reports, where’s the critical assessment? There doesn’t appear to be any. Maybe the new C-Class really is the perfect car. Finally. And maybe not...

But - just being devil’s advocate here: How about we compare Mercedes versus Mazda and see how much you really do pay for the three-pointed star, and which vehicle leads the pack on performance, technology and value. Let’s use the hi-tech miracle of logic, and objective analysis.


In the blue corner, weighing in at $68,200 Aussie dollars, drive away, the new 2015 Mercedes-Benz C 200 Blue Tec diesel. And in the red corner, the underdog. Tipping the scales at diminutive $54,636, drive away, the Mazda6 Atenza 2.2 twin-turbo diesel sedan.

C 200 Blue Tec

C 200 Blue Tec drive-away Australian price

Atenza Diesel

Mazda6 Atenza diesel dirve-away Australian price

These cars are so similar - on fundamentals. The Mazda is 179 millimetres longer - the width of your outstretched hand, sort of. Seven inches, more or less. The Mazda is 30 millimetres wider - about an inch and a quarter in the old money. And the Benz is eight millimetres lower - call it five-sixteenths of an inch. Australian specs don’t yet include weight - but based on the Euro numbers, they’re about the same weight. If you’d never seen a car before, you would not be able to tell these two apart.


The Mazda is $13,564 cheaper. QED.


The Mazda's Skyactiv 2.2 twin-turbo diesel engine makes 29 per cent more power than the Merc C 200 Blue Tec and also 40 per cent more torque. It’s pretty obvious which one you’d rather be in, overtaking a truck, with the passing lane evaporating, and a car coming the other way. Inconveniently. There is a massive difference in performance.

C 200 Blue Tec Engine:

  • 1.6-litre inline turbocharged
  • Fuel: diesel
  • Power: 100kW @ 3800rpm
  • Torque: 300Nm @ 2000rpm

Mazda6 diesel Engine:

  • 2.2-litre inline twin-turbocharged
  • Fuel: diesel
  • Power: 129kW @ 4500rpm
  • Torque: 420Nm @ 2000rpm

On that performance, it’s obviously the Mazda6, by a mile. It has a significantly bigger engine: 2.2 versus 1.6. So you’d expect more grunt. But is that performance just the extra displacement doing the heavy lifting? Let’s find out which engine is actually more advanced.


Most people would agree the engine is the heart of every car. Mercedes-Benz talks about the power of innovation in relation to the C-Class’s engines. At least, they do in the brochure. And Mazda made a bold claim in 2008 to increase the fuel efficiency of its inventory by 30 per cent using the Skyactiv technology suite. So they’re both hype-ing their tech - but who wins

Behind the scenes, engineers use a measurement called brake mean effective pressure as a barometer of thermodynamic efficiency. BMEP - it’s a mouthful. Strictly speaking, it’s a pressure - in kilopascals, or bar, or pounds per square inch - whatever. But, really, it’s power production divided by engine speed and cubic capacity. It’s a way of analysing engines. Essentially it’s a tool for controlling for the two great engineering power production ‘fudges’ - which would be to spin the engine faster or increase its capacity to make more torque at the crank. That’s the easy way out.

So - BMEP is power divided by revs divided by capacity, multiplied by a string of constants to deliver PSI or kPa - whatever. When you look at both of these engines churning their guts out at 2000rpm - where they both make their peak torque - and you calculate the BMEP at that critical point on the performance curve, have a guess what you find? Who do you think is really in front?

BMEP: C 200 Blue Tec

Power @ peak torque:
300Nm @ 2000rpm = 62.8kW

'Reference' BMEP:
62.8kW/2/1.6 = 19.6 kW/L/1000rpm

'Reference' BMEP = 19.6*


Note this is a kind of bastardised BMEP in which the constants haven't been included to derive an actual pressure - it's still a robust way to do a comparative analysis between the two engines at 2000rpm

BMEP: Mazda6 diesel

Power @ peak torque:
420Nm @ 2000rpm = 88.0kW

'Reference' BMEP:
88.0kW/2/2.2 = 20.0 kW/L/1000rpm

'Reference' BMEP = 20.0*

Difference: +2.0%

Note this is a kind of bastardised BMEP in which the constants haven't been included to derive an actual pressure - it's still a robust way to do a comparative analysis between the two engines at 2000rpm

At peak torque the Mazda 2.2 is about two per cent ahead of the Mercedes 1.6 on BMEP. That basically means Mazda’s engineers are doing a somewhat more sophisticated job converting diesel fuel into torque at the crankshaft - when you control for extraneous factors like capacity and revs. Revs are both the same anyway - 2000rpm - but the Mazda is more thermally efficient. Therefore, objectively, the Mazda is more advanced. So much for Mercedes-Benz and its purported moral high ground of advanced engineering. As slogans go: ‘Almost up there with Mazda’ is truer in relation to the Benz engine, but it probably wouldn’t sell as many cars. If you think you’re getting a more sophisticated engine in the Mercedes-Benz, you’re not.

NOTE: To convert a torque in Newton-metres to power output, you need to know the engine speed at that torque (in rpm). Basically, the short version of this is: Power (in kW) = Torque (in Nm) x revs (in rpm) divided by 9549. So 300Nm @ 2000rpm is 300 x 2000 / 9549 = 62.8kW. 

The long version is: The 9549 is a conversion for watts to kilowatts (divide by 1000) included with a conversion from RPM to a dimensionless version of engine speed measured in radians per second. Basically revs per minute to revs per second means dividing by 60. Revs to (dimensionless) radians means multiplying by 2 and dividing by Pi (3.142-ish). So: dividing by 1000, then dividing by 60 then multiplying by 2 and dividing by pi = dividing by 0.0001047. Division is the same as multiplying by the reciprocal of something so it's easier to think of this in terms of multiplying by 9549 (the reciprocal of 0.0001047). Easy, huh?


The Benz rolls on 18-inch alloys - the Mazda is on 19s. I’d give that to the Mazda. The Benz has LED headlamps; the Mazda has bi-xenons. That’s going to the Benz. The C 200 Blue Tec has Artico trim, which Mercedes-Benz mis-represents as man-made leather. [SIGH] I hate weasel words. Dear idiots: All leather is man made. It doesn’t grow on cows. It’s manufactured … from the skin of dead cows. Man-made leather. They mean ‘fake’ leather. Let’s be kind: artificial. Faux. No cows were harmed in the production of the C 200’s fake leather Artico trim. The Mazda has part leather trim. The actual dead cow stuff. I’d give that to the Mazda.

Mercedes C200 Blue Tec

  • 18-inch alloys
  • LED headlamps
  • Fake leather
  • Adjustable suspension
  • 7.0-inch LCD
  • 5-speaker audio
  • Standard DAB+ radio
  • No proximity key
  • No adaptive cruise
  • No rear cross traffic alert
  • No standard sunroof
  • Single CD
  • Paddle shifters
  • Reversing camera
  • Dual-zone climate air-con
  • Electric front seats
  • Sat-nav
  • Engine auto start/stop

Mazda6 Atenza

  • 19-inch alloys
  • Bi-xenon headlamps
  • Part (real) leather
  • Non-adjustable suspension
  • 5.8-inch LCD
  • 231W, 11-speaker Bose audio
  • No DAB+ radio
  • Standard proximity key
  • Standard adaptive cruise
  • Standard rear cross traffic alert
  • Standard sunroof
  • Single CD
  • Paddle shifters
  • Reversing camera
  • Dual-zone climate air-con
  • Electric front seats
  • Sat-nav
  • Engine auto start/stop

The Benz has adjustable suspension. The Mazda doesn’t. Have to give that to Mercedes. The Benz has a bigger central display unit - by 1.2 inches. Mercedes. But the Mazda is ahead on audio with a Bose 231-watt, 11-speaker system versus the C-Class’s anorexic standard five speakers. (Mazda.) The Benz has DAB+ radio; Mazda doesn’t. (Benz.) But the Mazda has a proximity key - and, let’s face it, $20,000 Kia Rios have them, yet the C 200 Blue Tec doesn’t. So, in the Benz, you get to fish in your handbag for the keys, with an umbrella and the groceries in the other hand, in the pouring rain. While the chap in the Mazda6 just jumps straight in, leaving the key in his man bag. There’s a Kodak moment… (Mazda.)

The Mazda has radar-based adaptive cruise control, but the C 200 Blue Tec doesn’t get Distronic Plus, which is the same thing essentially. (Mazda.) The Mazda has rear cross-traffic alert. The Benz doesn’t. (Mazda.) It doesn’t get a standard sunroof either. (Mazda.) But the Benz has a seven speed auto whereas the Mazda offers six. (Benz.)

They both have a single CD player, paddle shifters behind the wheel, reversing camera, dual-zone climate control air conditioning, sat-nav, electric front seats, plus auto engine shutdown and re-start in traffic.


The point of this exercise is: reality check. Very few journalists are game to criticise Mercedes-Benz. Because it’s nice to fly business class for free, to the next big junket in Spain. Or wherever. But that’s not much good if you’re a consumer about to drop your own big bucks on a car, and you want an actual independent report. As opposed to some missive from the gravy train. Obviously, cars are more than just the price. They’re more than just the engine. They’re more than just the equipment. There are plenty of intangibles - in fact the value of the brand is completely intangible. And it matters. But so does objectivity.

It looks a lot better jumping out of a Benz than a Mazda - even if the Mazda saved you nearly 14 grand, has better wheels, delivers more grunt, has a more sophisticated engine, features actual leather, delivers better audio, gives you a proximity key, has adaptive cruise control and a sunroof. All of which the Benz does not. But there you go. People are shallow like that - the badge is very important. To a particular type of person.

The message here is simple: if you’re in the market for a poverty pack Mercedes-Benz - meaning any Mercedes-Benz costing less than $100,000 - you really owe it to yourself to assess the tangible aspects of the deal as well, and not just get blown away by the appeal of the three-pointed star. The gloss will wear off that soon enough. Here in Australia, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW all struggle to offer value below $100,000. That’s what happens when you overlay a five-star communications and branding strategy on a three-star car.

The new C 200 Blue Tec is a nice car - but, on objective criteria, you’ll find it’s not quite as good as a fully loaded Mazda6. 

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