2020 BMW 3 Series Sedan vs. 2019 Mercedes C-Class Sedan

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The 3 Series Sedan has standard Active Head Restraints, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Active Head Restraints system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The C-Class Sedan doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

Both the 3 Series Sedan and the C-Class Sedan have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, blind spot warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.

Warranty

The 3 Series Sedan’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the C-Class Sedan’s (12 vs. 5 years).

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the 3 Series Sedan for 3 years and 36,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Mercedes doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the C-Class Sedan.

Reliability

The battery on the 3 Series Sedan is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures that can degrade battery life. By keeping the 3 Series Sedan’s battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The C-Class Sedan’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 7th in reliability, above the industry average. With 12 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mercedes is ranked 13th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Mercedes vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks BMW 9 places higher in reliability than Mercedes.

Engine

The 330i’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cyl. produces 22 lbs.-ft. more torque (295 vs. 273) than the C 300 Sedan’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the 3 Series Sedan gets better fuel mileage than the C-Class Sedan:

MPG

3 Series Sedan

RWD

330i 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

26 city/36 hwy

M340i 3.0 turbo 6-cyl.

22 city/30 hwy

AWD

330i 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

25 city/34 hwy

M340i 3.0 turbo 6-cyl.

22 city/30 hwy

C-Class Sedan

RWD

300 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

23 city/34 hwy

AWD

300 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

22 city/33 hwy

AMG 43 3.0 turbo V6

19 city/27 hwy

Regenerative brakes improve the 3 Series Sedan’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The C-Class Sedan doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

Transmission

The 3 Series Sedan’s launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The C-Class Sedan doesn’t offer launch control.

Tires and Wheels

The 330i’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the C-Class Sedan’s standard 50 series tires. The 3 Series Sedan’s optional 225/35R20 front and 255/30R20 rear tires have a lower 35 series front and 30 series rear profile than the C-Class Sedan’s optional 40 series front and 35 series rear tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the 330i has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the C-Class Sedan. The 3 Series Sedan’s optional 20-inch wheels are larger than the 19-inch wheels optional on the C-Class Sedan.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the 3 Series Sedan can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. Run-flat tires aren’t available on some tire packages on the C-Class Sedan.

Suspension and Handling

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the 3 Series Sedan is .3 inches wider in the front and 2 inches wider in the rear than the average track on the C-Class Sedan.

Chassis

The design of the BMW 3 Series Sedan amounts to more than styling. The 3 Series Sedan has an aerodynamic coefficient of drag of .26 Cd. That is significantly lower than the C-Class Sedan (.3 to .32) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the 3 Series Sedan get better fuel mileage.

Passenger Space

The 3 Series Sedan has 1.6 inches more front headroom, .3 inches more front legroom, .7 inches more front shoulder room and .5 inches more rear headroom than the C-Class Sedan.

Cargo Capacity

The 3 Series Sedan has a larger trunk than the C-Class Sedan (13 vs. 12.6 cubic feet).

A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the 3 Series Sedan easier. The 3 Series Sedan’s trunk lift-over height is 26.7 inches, while the C-Class Sedan’s liftover is 28 inches.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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