Consumer Reports have been in the business of comparing popular products for a very long time, including cars. So when they compare the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, long-time rivals, we take notice. The two variants they tested were the more popular variants of each model: the BMW 330i and Mercedes-Benz C300.
Both of these cars are turbocharged four-cylinder models with more tech and luxury features than anyone buying in this segment will ever need. Both were equipped with their premium leather seating, navigation systems, each car’s suite of safety features and automatic gearboxes. So which of these two German sales juggernauts is best?
In terms of performance, things are a bit muddy. CR has the BMW 330i doing 0-60 mph in 6.9 seconds but we’ve tested it, as have other car publications, and it’s far faster than that, capable of doing the spring in under 6 seconds with ease. However, they do claim that it is fun to drive, is sharper and more dynamic than the C300 and has a sportier ride. However, the 330i is let down by its somewhat choppy ride and difficult controls to learn. We’d disagree on the controls part, as BMW’s interiors are by far the most intuitive in the business, but will agree on the ride, especially without adaptive dampers.
The Mercedes C300 was a touch quicker in CR testing, running the 0-60 mph test in 6.8 seconds. They also found that, while behind the 3 Series in terms of handling capability, it was actually a very fun car to drive. It has good dynamics for a car of its weight and luxury, just not quite as sharp as the 3 Series. On the flip-side, though, the C300 had a smoother, more comfortable ride and an interior CR preferred. Though, they weren’t happy with some of the controls as well, such as the confusing COMAND system and weird column-shifter (both of which we’ve complained about before, also).
In the end, CR claimed that eight of the staff testers chose the 3 Series while seven chose the C-Class and one chose the Audi A4, which wasn’t even in the test. While that might seem like a win for the BMW, CR chose to end with one staffer claiming “I’d date the 3 Series, but I’d marry the C-Class.”