Make / Model Search

Car reviews - Mercedes-Benz - C-Class - C320 CDI sedan

Our Opinion

We like
Pulling power, diesel economy, nice balance of a comfortable ride and sporty handling
Room for improvement
Still sounds like a diesel in some situations, lacks sporty engine note of a petrol engine, having to use diesel pumps

31 Oct 2007

WE are about to witness a very important public experiment.

Will Mercedes-Benz customers pay top-dollar for a performance diesel in a C-class?

The company admits it is taking a risk, but believes choosing the diesel C320 instead of the C350 petrol model was the right decision.

We haven't driven the new C350, so it’s not possible to cast an opinion on the decision itself, but we can weigh up the pros and cons of the C320 CDI.

This is a very strong engine.

Just consider the fact that its muscular torque total of 510Nm matches the output of the about-to-be-replaced C55 AMG V8.

The C55 delivered that amount of torque at 4000rpm, while the C320 diesel punches it out from just 1600rpm.

Of course, the comparisons end there because the C55 can rev much higher and delivers 105kW more power.

Even so, the torrent of torque the C320 can unleash makes it an impressive drive.

It hustles along a mountain run like a true performance car, with its turbo-boosted engine offering all the pulling power you need – and more.

It is especially good for slinging out of corners. The surge from 60km/h to 100km/h is simply stunning.

The seven-speed automatic transmission is well matched to the engine and the shifts are fast and smooth.

You can choose to change gears yourself using the shifter, or via the paddles on the back of the steering wheel if you choose the optional AMG sport pack.

We found the transmission works so well and there is such a tremendous reserve of torque that you don’t need to over-ride the automatic gearbox.

Just leave it in drive and let the turbo do all the work.

However, while the diesel engine has its own charms when pushing hard, it is a different sensation to pushing a naturally-aspirated petrol engine.

For example, the super-smooth in-line six-cylinder petrol engine that powers the BMW 325i sings beautifully close to the redline. It is great fun to play around at the top of the rev range as you push along twisting roads enjoying the wonderful exhaust and induction note.

The C320 is a different beast.

The enjoyment comes in the form of the wave of torque that kicks-in low down in the rev range. There is no need to wring its neck and rev it out because the powerband is down the bottom.

It certainly doesn’t sound like a diesel engine when you are pushing hard, as there is no rattle or high-pitched clatter.

There is a slight hint of a sporty exhaust note, but it doesn’t sound anywhere near as aggressive as a performance petrol engine would.

At lower speeds, the engine does sound like a diesel. It’s is a very quiet and very refined engine, but you can still pick the diesel sound.

Some people won’t mind at all given the tremendous urge the engine offers, but we are tipping that some luxury sedan customers might find it a bit hard to get used to.

Customers are likely to enjoy the fact they won’t have to visit the petrol pump as much as they would if they had a V6 petrol engine under the bonnet.

The problem remains that the lack of appropriate diesel pumps and the condition of many of the existing ones is likely to put some people off.

Despite some new diesel pumps being installed, there are still some service stations that don’t have diesel and even more that only have high-flow nozzles that don’t fit passenger cars.

Some are also quite messy, something that passenger car customers might not be used to. The C320 is a convincing package, as are the other models in the new C-class sedan range.

Mercedes engineers have done a good job of balancing good ride quality and sporty handling.

The C320 is comfortable and rides very nicely, yet it manages to sit fairly flat through the corners.

It is not quite as agile as a 3 Series BMW, but is more comfy to ride in.

The steering is well weighted and there is good feedback.

Mercedes has also done a quite good job with interior noise supression and there is very little tyre or wind noise in the cabin.

There is good head and legroom for front and rear passengers.

Mercedes has done a pretty good job with the interior, although the cabin of the C320 doesn’t look all that much more special than the considerably cheaper entry-level model.

The instrument panel looks similar to that of the S-class, but the rest of the dashboard looks a little plain.

The Command APS sat-nav/music display sits in the dashboard behind a cover and then pops up when you need it. To be honest, it looks like a bit of an afterthought.

The C320 is not cheap at $92,800, but the engine represents a significant improvement over the 170kW 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine in the C280.

Some luxury sedan customers might not be ready for a diesel powerplant, especially in the headline model, but the tremendous torque of the C320 does make a convincing case.

Click to share

Click below to follow us on
Facebook  Twitter  Instagram

GoAuto can help you buy a new C-Class

Customer Terms and Conditions – New Car Lead enquires


This is an agreement between GoAutoMedia Pty Limited ACN 094 732 457 of PO Box 18, Beach Road, Sandringham, VIC, 3191 (“we/us”), the owner and operator of the GoAuto.com.au website (“the website”) and the person wanting GoAuto.com.au to provide them with a lead for the purchase of a new car (“you”).

By completing a New Car Lead Enquiry, you agree to the terms and conditions and disclaimers and acknowledge the policies set out below.

Terms and Conditions

  • In order for us to effect a lead you must you must complete a New Car Lead Enquiry (“Enquiry”).
  • We will call you as soon as possible after you complete the Enquiry and certainly no later than the next business day. When we call, we will discuss with you your new car requirements.
  • You consent to our passing on the Enquiry and your requirements to an appropriate authorised motor car dealer as a lead.
  • We will contact you again in approximately eight days following your initial enquiry to check on the progress of the Enquiry.
  • While we will provide the dealer with the Enquiry and details of your new car requirements, we take no responsibility for what happens after passing on that material as a lead.
  • You acknowledge that we are a new car information service providing new car editorial information, pictures and prices to our customers as a guide only. Any new car prices published on the website are the manufacturers’ recommended retail prices and do not include delivery charges and on-road costs. Any authorized motor car dealer to which we pass on your Enquiry as a lead will provide you with full details of the price at which the vehicle will be sold to you.
  • You acknowledge that we do not sell motor vehicles. Any sale of a new car to you by a dealer after we have passed on your Enquiry to that dealer as a lead, is a sale by that dealer not by us.

Privacy Policy– New Car Lead Enquires

  • We take privacy very seriously. We understand that you will only complete an Enquiry if you can trust us to protect your personal information and use it appropriately. Our policy is to ensure that the personal information collected when you make an Enquiry is only used for the purposes of connecting you with an authorised motor car dealer.
  • We do not on-sell information collected from you or any other customer.
  • From time to time, we may email you with information or promotions that may be relevant for car buyers. You will continue to receive communications from us unless you tell us that you do not want to receive any advertising or promotional information in the future by unsubscribing from these communications.
* Denotes required field
** Australian inquiries only

C-Class pricing

Motor industry news

GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.

Catch up on all of the latest industry news with this week's edition of GoAutoNews
Click here