BMW 3 Series or Mercedes Benz C Class?

This article will compare the Mercedes C Class and BMW 3 series and answer the following questions: Which is the best premium sedan?  Which is cheaper to maintain and reliable? This article will also shed light upon the engines and transmission options available in Mercedes C Class and BMW 3 series

Which is the best premium sedan: BMW 3 Series or Mercedes Benz C Class?

The Mercedes Benz C Class is the best premium sedan currently on sale. The following table list the key specifications of both models:

SpecificationsMercedes Benz C ClassBMW 3 Series
Starting price43,000 USD41,450 USD
EngineInline 4 CylinderInline 4, 6 cylinder
Transmission9- speed6-speed manual8 speed automatic
Curb weight1630 kg1,450–1,965 kg 
Luggage capacity455 L480
Number of passengers54

Detailed information of Mercedes Benz C Class:

The Mercedes Benz C Class model series W205/W206 is a standard-sized sedan from Mercedes Benz. It is also available in the AMG line and AMG 63 model series. The C class coupe comes with a 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system. The C class comes in different body styles like 2-door sports coupe and soft-top convertible model.

C class is the entry-level model in the sedan segment of Mercedes Benz, it can easily accommodate 5 passengers and more than 400 litres of boot space.  The first generation was launched in 1993 with the model series W202. 

It was well-received in domestic as well as international markets, the first generation of the C class was also the entry-level model in the Mercedes Benz lineup until the new generation of cars like the A-class was launched in 1997.

Currently, the C class is in its fifth generation with the model series W206 which will be replacing the W205 C class. The C class is manufactured in all Mercedes Benz factories; the only exceptions are the AMG 63 and AMG 63s models. 

Detailed information on BMW 3 series

It is a compact executive sedan from the Bavarian motor works or BMW for short. Initially, the 3 series was only available in a 2-door sports coupe but due to the popularity of the cars, the 3 series later became available in 4-door sedan, convertible and estate body styles.

The 3 series is also the most popular and highest-selling BMW car accounting for more than 30 percent of its annual sales. The first generation of the 3 series was launched in 1975 with the model series W21, the vehicle was launched with 4 cylinders carbureted engine and later with a 6 cylinder fuel injected model.

The latest generation of the BMW 3 series went on sale in March 2019 and currently, the 3 series is in its seventh generation with the start of model series G20/G21 and G 28. 

It is based on the CLAR cluster architecture platform developed by BMW and currently manufactured in Mexico and American factories. With a wheelbase of around 3000mm, it can easily transport 5 occupants and received 5 stars in the NCAP safety ratings.

The 3 series also has a high-performance variant called the M3 which is tuned by the M division of BMW. M division is similar to the Mercedes Benz AMG and focuses on producing high-performance versions of ongoing cars.

What are the engines available in the Mercedes Benz C Class?

The Mercedes Benz C class has a wide variety of drivetrain options available. It comes with inline 4, V6 and V8 engine configurations. Engines in petrol variants are M274, M264, M276 and AMG M177.

 The petrol engine produces power between 115kW till 225kW and AMG produces up to 375kW. M274 is replaced by the M264 engine, M264 is also available with a 48V belt-driven starter and alternator on C class model series 205. The latest C class w206 has an integrated starter-alternator located between the engine and gearbox. 

The C class is available in the plug-in hybrid models. The combined output of the engine and motor can be from 280 to 310 bhp. The battery pack in the hybrid model also has a fairly large capacity of 25kWh and the C class can be driven only in electric mode for a distance of 100 km.

Diesel variants of C  ClassOM654 2.0 litre engine in a different state of tune with AdBlue injection system for exhaust after-treatment producing a maximum power output of 140kW and 400NM torque. 

Diesel engines are equipped with low and high-pressure exhaust gas recirculation to reduce NOX emissions. AdBlue injection with selective catalytic reduction can be also found in the latest models. These exhaust gases after treatments are present to fulfil emission regulations.

What are the engine options available in the BMW 3 series?

The BMW 3 series also has many different engine options in petrol and diesel engines. In a petrol engine, the BMW 3 Series comes with an inline 1.6 and 2.0 litre  B47 4-cylinder engine. The power output ranges from 150 to 200 horsepower and 250 to 350 NM of torque. 

The 3 series also has a plug-in hybrid version with a combined power output of 255 bhp and 450 NM of torque. The range on the electric drive is only 60 km which is less than what the C class offers.

The BMW 3 Series also has an inline 3.0litre 6 cylinder B58 petrol engine with a massive power output of 382 horsepower and 500 NM of torque. No 3-litre engine is currently available in the Mercedes Benz C class.

In diesel, the BMW 3 series uses B47 and B 57 engines. B47 is a 2.0 litres turbocharged inline 4 cylinder engine producing approx 200 bhp and 400 NM of torque. B57 on the other hand is a larger 3.0-litre turbocharged engine with 285bhp and 580NM of torque. 

The B57 engine also comes with a twin turbocharger in the M340 D version with a power output of 340 hp and the 700NM

BMW 3 series is the only production car that offers a high-performance M series in the Diesel engine.  

Which is more reliable and cheaper to maintain?

As the C class and the 3 series are made by German manufacturers, both are considered very reliable. The C class and 3 series will easily last for more than 10 years without any major repairs. However, the C class is more reliable in the long run thanks to the Advanced assurance extended warranty program from Mercedes Benz. 

The preowned C class also comes with a 2-year standard warranty if purchased from an authorised dealership. The extended warranty programs from the BMW are not as extensive as  Mercedes Benz and only cover limited areas of the vehicle.

In some cases, Mercedes Benz is known to offer special goodwill to customers and cover 80 percent cost of spare parts in vehicles older than 4 years. On components like the SBC sensotronic brake control, the Mercedes Benz has a lifetime warranty provided periodic maintenance has been carried out regularly.

The maintenance cost of the C class and BMW 3 series is similar for the first 3 years. However, customers of 3 series have reported issues like engine vibrations due to worn-out engine mounts, oil and coolant leaks and abnormal suspension noises. These issues can be expensive to repair and add to the maintenance cost of the vehicle.

The older model of the C class also had electric faults in ESP and wheel speed sensors. Abnormal noise complaints due to faulty camshaft actuators but these issues are resolved in the latest generation of the Class. 

BMW and Mercedes Benz have different service packages which can benefit customers in the long run but Mercedes service packages are available for almost 10 years compared to 7 years in BMW.

Other articles about  BMW you may be interested in

What is the cost of ownership for BMW and Mercedes Benz?

Which is Better: BMW X6 or Mercedes Benz GLE coupe?

Which is the best BMW, Mercedes Benz or the Porsche?


The Mercedes Benz C  class and the BMW 3 series are good executive sedans from German companies. If luxury and comfort are the priority then the C class is a better choice compared to the 3 series. If the customer wants high performance and better handling thanks to the CLAR platform the 3 series is still unmatched in this category.

FAQs: BMW 3 series VS Mercedes Benz C class

What is the BMW equivalent to the Mercedes C-Class?

The BMW equivalent to the Mercedes Benz C class is the BMW 3 series. There is also a high-performance version of the BMW 3 series called BMW M3 which is equivalent to the Mercedes Benz C 63 AMG.

Is BMW 3 Series bigger than the Mercedes C-Class?

No, BMW 3 series is not bigger than the Mercedes Benz C class. Both the cars are direct competitors of each other and offer the same amount of interior space.

Which is better BMW 328i or Mercedes C300?

The Mercedes C 300 is better as it is also an AMG line model that gives it a more sporty look and the 4 Matic system is better than the rear-wheel-drive of the BMW 328i.

What was missing from this post which could have made it better?

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