2020 Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet vs. 2020 BMW Z4

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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The C-Class Cabriolet has standard head airbag curtains for front and rear seats which act as a forgiving barrier between the driver and outboard passenger's upper bodies and the window and pillars. Combined with high-strength steel door beams and lower side airbags this system increases head protection in broadside collisions. The Z4 doesn't offer side airbag protection for the head.

The C-Class Cabriolet offers all-wheel drive to maximize traction under poor conditions, especially in ice and snow. The Z4 doesn’t offer all-wheel drive.

The C-Class Cabriolet offers an optional Surround View System to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The Z4 only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

Both the C-Class Cabriolet and the Z4 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, driver alert monitors, available lane departure warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

The Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet weighs 412 to 725 pounds more than the BMW Z4. The NHTSA advises that heavier cars are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts.

Warranty

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There are over 10 percent more Mercedes dealers than there are BMW dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the C-Class Cabriolet’s warranty.

Reliability

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J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Mercedes vehicles are better in initial quality than BMW vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes 12th in initial quality. With 8 more problems per 100 vehicles, BMW is ranked 20th.

Fuel Economy and Range

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In heavy traffic or at stoplights the C-Class Cabriolet’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The Z4 doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The C-Class Cabriolet has 3.7 gallons more fuel capacity than the Z4 (17.4 vs. 13.7 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Transmission and Drivetrain

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A nine-speed automatic is standard on the Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only an eight-speed automatic is available for the Z4.

All wheel drive, available in the C-Class Cabriolet, provides the best traction for acceleration in wet, dry, and icy conditions. In corners, all wheel drive allows both outside wheels to provide power, balancing the car. This allows for better handling. The BMW Z4 is not available with all wheel drive.

Tires and Wheels

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Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the C-Class Cabriolet can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The Z4 doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

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The C-Class Cabriolet’s drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The Z4 doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the C-Class Cabriolet’s wheelbase is 14.6 inches longer than on the Z4 (111.8 inches vs. 97.2 inches).

Chassis

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The front grille of the C-Class Cabriolet uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The Z4 doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

Passenger Space

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The C-Class Cabriolet has standard seating for 4 passengers; the Z4 can only carry 2.

The C-Class Cabriolet has 29.3 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Z4 (81.3 vs. 52).

Cargo Capacity

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The C-Class Cabriolet’s standard rear seats fold to accommodate long and bulky cargo. The Z4 doesn’t offer folding rear seats, only a ski pass-through.

Servicing Ease

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J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Mercedes service is better than BMW. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes fifth in service department satisfaction. With a 23% lower rating, BMW is ranked 11th.

Ergonomics

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The C-Class Cabriolet’s standard easy entry system raises the steering wheel, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Z4 doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The C-Class Cabriolet’s standard power windows have a locking feature to keep children in the rear seat from operating them, but the driver can still raise and lower all of them with the lock engaged. BMW does not offer a locking feature on the Z4’s standard power windows.

The C-Class Cabriolet’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The Z4’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open or close them fully.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the C-Class Cabriolet has standard extendable sun visors. The Z4 doesn’t offer extendable visors.

Optional air-conditioned seats in the C-Class Cabriolet keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The Z4 doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

The C-Class Cabriolet’s optional Active Parking Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, stopping and changing direction automatically. The Z4’s automatic parking system requires operating the brakes and transmission to safely park.

Model Availability

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The Mercedes C-Class comes in coupe, convertible and sedan bodystyles; the BMW Z4 isn’t available as a coupe or sedan.

Recommendations

© 1999 - 2020 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved. This vehicle comparison and all of the content in it are provided only by license from Advanta-STAR Automotive Research Corporation of America. If you are not a legally licensed user of this vehicle comparison, it is against federal law to access it, copy it, forward it or use it in any manner whatsoever. Any unauthorized use of this vehicle comparison is a violation of U.S. and international law and is punishable criminally and civilly. 6IUEX-0KENZ 45.55.47.189 2020/02/17

Consumer Reports® recommends the Mercedes C-Class Cabriolet, based on reliability, safety and performance. The BMW Z4 isn't recommended.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the C-Class Cabriolet first among compact premium cars in owner reported satisfaction. This includes how well the vehicle performs and satisfies its owner’s expectations. The Z4 isn’t in the top three.

The Mercedes C-Class outsold the BMW Z4 by over 26 to one during the 2019 model year.

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