German auto motor und sport magazine has confronted the all-wheel drive petrol versions of the Mercedes C-Class, BMW 3 Series facelift, and Audi A4. Who’s better? The Mercedes C 300 4Matic, the BMW 330i xDrive or the Audi A4 45 TFSI Quattro S Line?
Photos: Auto motor und sport
The Mercedes C-Class came standard with the Avantgarde line and the AMG Interior Line and featured AMG Line Exterior (3,796 euro). To have a fair comparison, the BMW 330i xDrive was equipped with the MSport package (4,200 euro), while the Audi A4 had the S-Line Exterior package (1,800 euro) and the S-Line Interior package (€2,150 euro).
Mercedes C 300 4Matic: most comfortable
Although air suspension is no longer offered in the new generation C-Class, the classic adaptive suspension with steel springs offers the best comfort in the segment. The compact Benz cushions bump perfectly but don’t lean too much in fast corners.
The new all-wheel steering is precise and calm, but feedback is low. On the other hand, cornering behavior is impeccable, and the C-Class gives great confidence to the driver But it’s not too incisive to drive.
Surprisingly, though, the Mercedes is as good as the BMW in agility tests. Although the BMW claims the title of handling king and the incisive steering (except around the center point where it’s too light) gives you that feeling, the all-wheel drive doesn’t improve agility compared to the rear-wheel drive-only version.
The Audi is somewhere in between the two models. The steering works more directly than the Mercedes, responding precisely around central point but lacking feedback afterward. The adaptive suspension responds more smoothly than the BMW but doesn’t reach the quality of the Mercedes’ on larger bumps and at higher loads.
Audi A4 45 TFSI Quattro: the best acceleration and the lowest fuel consumption
The Audi’s engine doesn’t respond as spontaneously as the BMW’s, but once the turbine kicks in, it pushes with vigor and with slightly more power than its rivals; it has the quickest acceleration but also gets the lowest fuel consumption in the test. The engine is also quiet and harmonizes with the 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that shifts quickly and has a high degree of finesse when starting and downshifting.
Compared to BMW and Audi, Mercedes’ engine sounds rougher, and the 9-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly but slowly. The BMW’s engine is also audible but only at startup, and then it twists greedily at the press of the accelerator pedal, develops quick torque, and revs quickly to 6000 rpm, helped by the excellent torque converter automatic gearbox that shifts quickly and is perfectly synchronized.
BMW 330i xDrive: more complicated to operate with the new OS8
BMW’s interior is in the premium class with lots of soft plastic and leather. Mercedes has softer leather upholstery, more luxurious interior trim, and more aluminum, but there is more hard plastic in the lower door area, and the steering column trim is cheap.
With the new OS8 operating system, things have become more complicated in the BMW 3 Series. The climate controls have disappeared and been integrated into the multimedia system menu, and the menus are more complicated because they include numerous applications that are not organized in the most logical way.
However, BMW still kept the traditional controller, which contributed to the smooth operation of the controls. The Mercedes C-Class takes on the new generation of the MBUX system with its 11.8-inch portrait screen that features large, easy-to-access icons. Audi still offers the brand’s typical quality feel and retains classic ergonomics with a separate air conditioning block that makes it very easy to use. And Audi also has the most comfortable rear bench that is excellently contoured.
BMW is the most expensive
Surprisingly, Mercedes is not the most expensive. That’s the BMW 330i xDrive which costs 56,200 euros and goes up to 60,400 with the MSport package. The Mercedes C 300 4Matic costs 53,014.50 euros plus 3,796 euros for the AMG exterior package because AMG Line for the interior is standard. The cheapest is the Audi 45 TFSI Quattro which starts at 49,550 euros and goes up to 53,850 euros with the S Line Interior and Exterior packages.