Photo Comparison: BMW 3 Series Sedan LCI vs. 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Facelift

3-Series, Featured Posts | December 24th, 2010 by 47
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Earlier this week, Mercedes-Benz took off the veil of their latest update to the popular C-Class family. The facelifted C-Class launches in 2011 and as …

Earlier this week, Mercedes-Benz took off the veil of their latest update to the popular C-Class family. The facelifted C-Class launches in 2011 and as always, will take on the E90 BMW 3 Series Sedan.

A typical feature here at BMWBLOG is to compare BMW models against their competitors and today, we decided to put head-to-head in a photo comparison the 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the 2010 BMW 3 Series Sedan facelift.

With the 2012 model year, Mercedes is offering an all-new four-cylinder engine option here in the United States (C250). The C250 delivers 201-horsepower. The fancier C300 will have a 228 horsepower from a V6 engine. The top-model C350 is also powered by a V6 engine delivering this time 302-horsepower.

Design wise, the facelift C-Class brings small changes to the current exterior design. The tweaks are limited to a new aluminum hood, slightly revised headlights and a set of LED running lights situated below. At the rear-end, the changes are even more subtle.

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From the official press release:

On the rear bumper, the character lines and shutlines have been modified to add emphasis to the vehicle’s stance. This is especially evident in the steep rise of the character line running outward toward the rear lights. A continuous character line on the upper edge of the rear bumper runs into the fenders of the C-Class to provide a connection to the sides and emphasizes the sporty character of the rear view. A new one-piece jewel case on the tail lights provides further integration into the rear of the vehicle. The characteristic sinuous surface line is now reflected on the inside of the lights and is reminiscent of earlier models. The distinctive depth of the lights are achieved by LED indicators located in the center that appear to float in front of the more deeply set red LED bands above and below. The rear light pattern is particularly distinctive at night.

The interior of the C-class has been restyled to reflect that of the E-class, with an angular instrument binnacle and improved materials. The company’s new telematics system will also make its debut before being gradually introduced to the rest of its model range. The system offers larger LCD displays, music played wireless via Bluetooth and the SMS displayed on the LCD screen.


New driver assistance systems like Attention Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Blind Spot Assist and Parktronic have been added to the popular sedan.

BMW continues to offer in the US two different models, the entry-level 328i (230 hp) and its xDrive twin, and the top-model, 335i (300 hp), as well in an xDrive configuration. A diesel sedan is also being offered – 335d.

The 2012 C-Class will make its official debut at the Detroit Auto Show next month with the cars going on sale in the United States next summer.


47 responses to “Photo Comparison: BMW 3 Series Sedan LCI vs. 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Facelift”

  1. Shincai says:

    I think the old C looks better than this facelifted version.
    As for the BMW. They just keep going ahead. Keep getting and looking better and better!

  2. Heddlu_Cymru M5 says:

    Owh my word!

    Owkey honestly back in the 22nd of November, I had an attemt to make the C-Class looks a little better and shockingly, they’ve got about the same headlight as what I drew!

    But other than that, still I think they’ve improved the C-Class a bit but if I was about to buy one of these, I’ll still take the BMW. And I still don’t like the interior of the Merc.

  3. Lariv says:

    This facelift has made the C-Class a lot better looking and the exterior is definitely nicer than that of the 3 Series. The interior is greatly improved too but I doubt it will be a better car overall, not surprising though considering the 3 Series has been the best compact executive for a very long time.

  4. StraightSix says:

    Nice interior in the Mercedes, can’t deny that, and the headlights are also nice. Nice overall. I actually think interior is nicer than in BMW! This time Mercedes has more sportier interior, and BMW’s is like for people in pension heh. But opinions differ of course.

    • Heddlu_Cymru M5 says:

      I agreed that people opinion is differ.

      In my opinion, the E90 interior is still good to me. I guess the thing that made it look like an interior for people in pension is because of the wood trim. I hate wood trim in my car… Add an aluminium trim and a sporty steering wheel should complete everything.

      • FreudeKing says:

        E90’s interior is much better than teh C Class, which has a lot of cheap black plastics.

        Why dis BMW Blog take the ugliest colour combination for the 3 Series sedan to compare to the C Class? Please use a beigh interior with woodtrim and screen. It is unfair that you compare the two like this.

  5. Auday says:

    I’ve driven both cars back to back to compare (they were both automatic unfortunately) and for me the E90 was by far a better car almost in alll aspects except the ride as the C is a bit softer on the bumps.
    Interior and exterior design I’d fail them both, there is nothing inspiring or special about them, especially the bimmer. I’m looking forward to the new 3er design, I think it will bring back the E36/E46 spirit and beauty at least design wise.

  6. Laszlo says:

    none are spectacular but the current C-class in some trim actually very nice. few days ago I saw a dark grey C350 with a nice black contoured wheel and most likely a sport package. The car drew my attention and looked exactly what I would look for in a new car.
    Sadly the only BMW’s ever do that to me lately are the M models. And mostly for the way they drive.

    The street driving is taken care of by both , no issues with either one. If I need a track car then a E46 M3 is the choice anyway.

  7. Laszlo says:

    oh and that wood interior in the BMW looks like a ’80 Lincoln continental.

    Why does BMW still insist in putting fake wood in their cars ? It hasn’t been popular since the mid 90’s and even then the fake ones looked awful.

  8. viper says:

    the facelifted C class looks much better than already great looking C class.
    Id choose C class over any BMW 3 , any day .
    MB once again proves who THE DADDY.

    • plaxico says:

      attaboy!!! attaboy!!!
      Just one more example that Merc is 10 y. ahead of bmw.When bmw attempts to look luxuries it always ends up comical.

      look at those cheap buttons.Maaaan

      Best or nothing !!!

    • FreudeKing says:

      I don’t understand why people are so happy with the C Class interior – it looks very cheap to me and that dash reminds me of Ford Fiesta’s colour combination and quality – cheap!

      And no, once again, MB proves who the Grandpa is, appealing to the aged population

  9. viper says:

    look at that steering wheel , those speed rev counters… does the same thing in 2011 , same as they did in 1970s and 60s and 50s and 90s…..MB always improves their looks.
    MB makes a better job just facelifting its models than bmw makes a whole new model.
    once again.

  10. Ray says:

    Hmm, somehow the new C-Class reminds me of the VW Concept C with the funny looking SL headlights. Not sure if it’s better than the current design, but at least it looks more interesting. Still can see BMW influences in several areas though, and IMO nothing in the segment can hold a candle to the 3er in terms of surfacing.

    The MB interior wins for me- not because it’s great, but because BMW’s last generation interior is aging fast in comparison to the new offerings from other manufacturers.

  11. BMfan says:

    i will always prefer the warm feel of the wood trim. Its both classic and modern-anything else but for leather and maybe carbon fibre, imo, feels cheap.

  12. Badger says:

    The interior of the Mercedes is a lot better than the BMW. But the overall face lift to the C class has brought it closer to the mighty BMW

  13. Heddlu_Cymru M5 says:

    Am I correct that the C-Class in the comparison is in the Avantgarde trim?

    • v1p3r says:

      I think you’re right, if I’m not mistaken the Elegance trim has the 3 pointed star on a stalk on the hood of the car, while the Avantgarde models have the big star in the grille.

  14. M.Pertz says:

    I’d say that the C facelift it’s a beautiful car….but don’t you see some similarities between the headlights and the front bumper at this two cars?! Also the new interior in the C it’s beautiful.

  15. X5SoB says:

    Let’s face it, Mercedes makes handsome stylish designs that have a clear identity as MB. So does BMW. Putting down one brand while glorifying the other is really childish.

  16. wazon8 says:

    Have you seen Skoda Octavia? This MB has really similar face… and that’s bad, since both of them – at least to me – are not great looking cars at all. By being familiar with rather popular Octavia, I can image how this C-class will look like in real world circumstances and similarly to Octavia, most likely it looks better on a photo. As for interior, it simply took the worst from the new E-class interior. IMO, one of the worst interior MB ever made. C-class as whole is far from being exciting.

    As for BMW, the proper looking 3-er series sedan is M3 sedan and – by having coupe’s front end – that car looks really great: much better than regular sedan and this C-class.

  17. JakeM says:

    Love the current C class. I was able to sample a C300 which a friend owned and loved it. Very comfortable and also dynamically capable. Also felt more roomier than the current 3er. I wouldn’t mind owning one as it combines luxury and sport really well, even better than the 3er, which is far more sports and handling biased while leaving the luxury aspect a bit behind.

    The refresh looks decent. I’m not a fan of those new headlights but they might look better in person. The rear of the C class has always been a little bland or conservative, not much has changed there, although I like the rear lights of the C class more than the Hyundai-esque rear lights of the current 3er – the biggest weakspot of the 3er in my opinion.

    Interior looks good to in terms of design. Overall, a decent refresh. The new engines also look great. Can’t wait to see how Audi and BMW react in the future.

  18. FreudeKing says:

    Time for FK Analysis:

    New C Class Facelift:

    The overall design has not changed much. However, there are some nice detail to make the car look more premium. I like what they have done with the outer shape of the headlights, which makes it more modern than the pre-facelift model. However, what’s happening on the inside of those lights are disguisting. Starting from the line at the bottom, which resembles those of tasteless Audi’s LED line (I am not talking about the one on the airdam, I am talking about the one in the headlight units, functioning as indicators) The rest of the light arrangement inside that headlight unit is poor, it has a distance frog eye feel with that protruding xenon bulb that does not look integrated. Furthermore, the light tube in the form of a “c” is also look rather like an afterthought with no integration into the whole design language. I do not have to mention the tasteless line of LED in from of the airdam at the bottom there. There is nothing much to mention about regarding the exterior of the car as nothing else have changed. Just another note on the exterior design: Merc has failed to make wheels that integrate with the car, all there wheels seem to be an afterthought add on. You can see on this car that they seem to be protruding out of the body of the car. This is the failure result of a lack of proper design integration. In comparison, BMW’s wheels are deep and form very much part of the entire car’s design.

    They have inserted a silver piece of plastic in the middle of the dash to try and improve the big cheap blakc plastic dash that the previous model had, which made the cr have the same feel and quality of a VW Polo. With this insert, the dash gets a bit of an upgrade to Hyundai Sonata level, still cheap but better looking. I cannot help but think that this type of colour combination and design resembles that of a Ford Fiesta/ Toyota Yaris – flat, no surves, just so that the entire piece is not cheap black hard plastic, easier on the eye in a cheap way. Needless to say, this Merc’s interior is still a failure and looks very cheap both in the quality of the design and the quality of the materials used. As for teh comparison with BMW’s interior – this is exactly the reason why you do not buy black interior with wood trim in a 3 Series – I cannot see what’s going on there. There must be some nicer colour combinations and breaks like a chrome insert, etc. to lift up that cabin. With that being said, the 3 Series actually has a very nice classy professional interior (if you choose the right colours) – this is either beigh with woodtrim or grey interior as the dash follows the interior colour as well, which is something that Merc does not have with their C Class due to extensive use of cheap black plasticon bthe dash that cannot be ordered with another colour.

    FK Rating: (Out of 10)

    Exterior (Overall):
    BMW 3 Series: 8 [the iconic sports sedan with the looks of an athelete]
    Mercedes Benz C Class: 6 [a wrinkly old woman with lots of shiny jewellery]
    Audi A4: 5 [nothing remarkable, looks a bit fat]

    Exterior (Front):
    BMW 3 Series: 7 [Very distinctive with detailed integrated headlights]
    Mercedes Benz C Class: 5 [Poorly designed details of the headlights messed up the face]
    Audi A4: 6 [ugly grille with downtruned headlights make it look droopy]

    Exterior (Side):
    BMW 3 Series: 9 [Very well balanced with string lines]
    Mercedes Benz C Class: 7 [Clean, but outdated]
    Audi A4: 5 [A mess of lines and that plastic side skirt lip is something I would expect from a cheap Tata, just shows you to what extent they go to cut cost at the VW Group]

    Exterior (Rear):
    BMW 3 Series: 7 [Sporty but those rear lights with complete red cover is old fashioned, should have some silver strips like teh X Series to light it up]
    Mercedes C Class: 8 [Very stylish and elegant, especially with a sports bumper]
    Audi A4: 4 [Ugliest of them all, especially those rear lights resembling the protruding eyes of a fly, gisguisting. Also looks fat]

    BMW 3 Series: 7
    Mercedes Benz C Class: 3
    Audi A4: 6 (extensive use of cheap glossy black plastic panels on the dash and VW quality materials on lower areas of the door panels and dash cheapened the interior)

    So well Done BMW!

    • PJ says:

      spot on! although this c is nicer than the pre-facelift, it is still somewhat “off”. it appeals to the female population more imo. audi a4 is just not premium so don’t even bother comparing that to these cars

      • JakeM says:


        Who do you think constitutes a large part of the market of 3er, A4 and C class customers?


        The 3 series is also very popular amongst WOMEN. Stop talking sh_t about Audi or Mercedes. It’s downright childish.

        • FreudeKing says:

          What’s a large part? Where did you get these stats from?

          The fact is that the majority of this market is still dominated by men. The women customers tend to go for the Mercedes C Class. So… what’s you point then?

          • M. Stevens says:

            by WOMEN??? dude, you do not know what you are talking about. the most popular car women buy are toyota and kia hatchbacks.

            i guess you are trying to say that most people who buy this segment of cars don’t know anything about cars because they are women – which is not true as almost every 3 series that i see is driven by a man. i do see a few women driving c classes though.

            i guess these women are like ostriches, they love shinny things like jewellery and chrome, that’s why they like the c class. they won’t be able to tell the difference between glass and diamonds, they just swallow… that’s why they don’t know bm’s 3 is the best.

  19. viper says:

    such nonsense can only be found here…but thats good , you people are very entertaining.

  20. I think from the front grille the BMW actually looks better. I usually prefer Merc in terms of looks but the grille and headlamps of the C Class aren’t striking my fancy for some reason. From the back I prefer the Merc. Interior I prefer Merc, BMW looks old fashioned but more expensive. Although the Merc interior looks more contemporary it looks “cheaper”… ?

    I drove a C300 once as a loaner car and it felt very “boxy: to me, it literally felt like a box and visibility was bad when switching lanes. I guess I am used to the C-pillar in my ride.

  21. Daniel Hoang says:

    Its rather funny how people are just talking about the looks rather than the actual specs. Mercedes is using its now v6. 305 naturally aspirated power with plenty of torqe. Hooked up to a 6 speed manual and this is a big plus over the turbo i6 in the 335i. All it needs and a sporty suspension and a handbrake and it might very be the best sporty sedan for under 45 grand. But overall, benz got bmw but theres still test drives and review before the final verdict can be decided.

  22. Danny says:

    does anyone know if the shark fin is now a standard feature of the 3 series, or is it part of a package ?

    • FreudeKing says:

      standard feature. if they make it an optional extra, it’s like saying: we’ll give you bumpers but if you want it the same as your car colour, you have to pay extra for us to spay them.

  23. Audipage says:

    Audi A4 is missing here, it would have completed the scenario…

  24. Rad Dockery says:

    Hate to see say it because I love BMW – but the C-Class looks better to me…

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