Can the G20 BMW 3 Series & Volvo S60 take on the Mercedes-Benz C-Class?

Mercedes-Benz Malaysia recently upped the ante in the compact premium executive segment with the facelifted Mercedes-Benz C-Class from the highly efficient 1.5-litre EQ Boost C 200 to the 3.0-litre twin-turbo powered C 43.

With revised specifications (64-colour ambient lighting, digital screens, blind spot monitor, air suspension) and styling, the refreshed C-Class gains a competitive edge over the ageing F30 BMW 3 Series and second-gen Volvo S60. We did not forget about the Audi A4 but unfortunately, it loses out on price compared to its locally assembled rivals.

But the C-Class reign is set to take a back seat with the imminent arrival of the G20 3 Series and all-new S60. We’ve seen both of these cars at the 2019 Singapore Motor Show and they both look stunning in the metal (at least, according to our editor, Eu Jin). Should you then, go with the C-Class or wait for the new competitors to hit local showrooms? Here’s the breakdown:


Name Mercedes-Benz C 200 G20 BMW 320i Volvo S60 T5
Engine 1.5-litre 4-cylinder turbo with EQ Boost 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbo
Transmission 9-speed automatic 8-speed automatic 8-speed automatic
Max Power 184 hp + 13 hp (EQ Boost) 184 hp @ 5,000 – 6,000 rpm 250 hp @ 5,500 rpm
Max Torque 280 Nm + 160 Nm (w/ EQ Boost) 300 Nm @ 1,350 – 4,000 rpm 350 Nm @ 1,800 – 4,800 rpm
0 – 100 km/h; Top Speed 7.7 seconds; 239 km/h 7.2 seconds; 238 km/h 6.5 seconds; 240 km/h
Kerb Weight 1,505 kg 1,525 kg 1,677 kg
Boot Space 435 litres 480 litres 442 litres
Fuel Economy Rating 6.3L/100 km 6.0L/100 km 7.1L/100 km

Compared here are the base petrol variants from all 3 makes

On paper, the S60 T5 blows the competition out of the water with its 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder Drive-E powerplant packing 250 hp and 350 Nm of twist. It is the quickest among the trio despite weighing over 1.6 tonnes, completing the century sprint in 6.5 seconds. The weight comes with a small price to pay with a rated fuel economy of 7.1L/100 km.

But if you swear by “rear wheel drive is the right wheel drive”, the 320i and C 200 would be your prime choice. The 320i gets a more conventional setup with a 2.0-litre turbo and 8-speed automatic packing 184 hp and 300 Nm while the C 200 has a more sophisticated 1.5-litre turbo with EQ Boost Integrated Starter Generator (ISG). The latter also comes with an extra gear.

Technology only tells half the story because the 320i is half a second quicker than the C 200 – 7.2 seconds vs 7.7 seconds – and it has a slightly lower rated fuel consumption of 6.0L/100 km. However, the C 200 emits the least C02 among the lot if that’s your concern.

Styling is subjective and the W205 C-Class has been around since 2014 so it’s not quite a fair comparison against the brand spanking new BMW and Volvo. However, the facelift exercise brought about a bit more sophistication to the headlamps and taillamps that helps the C-Class stay fresh. The three-pointed star is also arguably the most elegant looking one here.

Both the 3 Series and S60 spots a sportier design language hoping to draw in the young and young at heart. Some may find the styling G20 3 Series to be too busy around the front and reminds them of a certain Japanese brand around the rear, but as Eu Jin said, you have to see it in person to appreciate the design.

The Volvo on the other hand while athletic in proportions, gives off a corporate image (even in the R-Design trim) which some may appreciate when rolling up to business meetings. A sportier S90 if you will.

Both the cabin of the G30 3 Series and S60 is not a novelty because the architecture and design are taken straight from the respective brand’s larger models. The Volvo plays on its minimalistic design while the BMW’s more driver focused layout should appeal to the enthusiast. But if you’re a fan of party pieces, nothing comes close to the Merc’s 64-colour ambient lighting.

While specification of Malaysia-bound G20 320i and S60 are yet to be confirmed, we can trust that Volvo Car Malaysia will feature the full suite of IntelliSafe Advanced Driver Assistance System and Pilot Assist semi-autonomous driving feature when the car is launched here. The C 200 which is currently on sale, only comes with one active safety system – Blind Spot Assist. Your move, BMW.

In summary, all three cars have their unique selling point but in this highly competitive and demanding segment, manufacturers have to capture the heart of the masses not only with brand sentiment but also pricing and product positioning.

The C-Class is a good example with a well-packaged entry-level C 200 for no frills premium motoring experience and a feature packed C 300 for the discerning buyers. Backed with the support of a strong after sales network, it will be quite a challenge for BMW and Volvo to beat the Merc at its game.


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