NEWS

2015 Mercedes-Benz C300 Versus 2015 Volvo S60

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The 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class won our hearts and a chunk of our long-term fleet budget when we named it the Best of 2015. Now that it is in regular rotation in our test fleet we’re able to pit it against its direct competition.

Related: We Bought a 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Volvo’s S60 received some updates for 2015, including a new power plant and a high-tech gauge cluster. We pitted our turbocharged four-cylinder, all-wheel-drive C300 against a supercharged and turbocharged four-cylinder S60 with front-wheel drive. Both were priced nearly identically, came equipped with navigation and had similar safety features too.

Here’s how they compared after being put through a drive route on city and suburban streets as well as highway surfaces in nearly zero-degree weather.  
 

Handling

 

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Winner: C-Class
The C-Class has really upped its game in the handling department for a base non-sport-suspension model like our tester. Steering feel is more precise than the Volvo, and the C-Class wallows less in the corners. Overall, the Mercedes is a more confident-driving car that’s perhaps aided by its all-wheel-drive system.   

 

Ride

 

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Winner: C-Class
The S60 in this test comes with the sportiest suspension and largest wheels available. This leads to a significant amount of jostling in the cabin but no serious shocks through the seats. The C-Class may be even firmer in terms of the suspension setup; the bumps you notice seem more severe, but they’re also less frequent.  

 

Acceleration

 

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Winner: Tie
The S60’s new four-cylinder is rather impressive. It’s supercharged and turbocharged; it makes 302 horsepower and gets up to 35 mpg on the highway, plus it has no turbocharger lag. The engine is a powerhouse that often makes the S60 feel faster. But here’s the thing: The S60 is front-wheel drive only. Torque steer and wheelspin are an issue. In the effort of controlling wheelspin, the S60 cuts engine power, and the car just doesn’t feel fast until well above 30 mph when the wheels don’t spin anymore. Plus the steering wheel tugs back and forth as all that power is sent to the front wheels only. The C-Class may not be quite as quick, but it’s a significantly more refined experience even with a little lag, but not much, especially in its Sport and Sport Plus modes.

 

Braking

 

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Winner: C-Class
The C-Class’ brakes are more sensitive and slow down the car in a much more predictable nature than those of the S60. The Volvo’s no-go pedal feels mushy under foot and having to rely on it to slow all that impressive acceleration is slightly unsettling.

 

Visibility

Winner: S60
The C-Class’ seating position is much more like a sports sedan than the higher-seated driver’s seat in the S60. You’re low to the ground in the C-Class with feet stretched outward. The S60’s driver’s seat sits higher off the ground and is more upright for better visibility, and you can flip the rear seats’ head restraints down with the flip of a button to see better out the back … unless you have passengers.

 

Interior Quality

 

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Winner: C-Class
The C-Class’s interior is a stunner, made more apparent in a side-by-side comparison with the S60. Aluminum surfaces, soft-touch materials and high-quality trim plus a killer design are all top notch for the class and much more impressive than the bland Volvo. Except for the Volvo’s standout genuine leather seats that put the C-Class’ MB-Tex vinyl upholstery to shame.

 

Passenger comfort

 

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Winner: S60
The S60’s supple leather seats are just as comfortable as they look with soft padding and a comfy grip. The C-Class seats are on the stiff side and also don’t look nearly as nice as those in the S60. Rear seat comfort and room between the two is similar, though the Volvo’s seating surfaces still shine in the backseat.

 

Luxury features

 

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Winner: C-Class  
No question here: Mercedes’ Comand system destroys the S60’s multimedia system with its tablet-like display resolution and knob-based control with touchpad. Both optional sound systems are also powerhouses in their own right. The S60’s multimedia setup is easy to use, but there’s no flash – and a much smaller screen – versus the Mercedes’ system.

 

Cargo

 

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Winner: S60
Trunk space is nearly identical between the two: 12.6 cubic feet for the Mercedes and 12.0 for the Volvo. The Volvo has a wider trunk opening, but the C-Class has a deeper trunk. It’s a wash, really.  
 

Worth The Money

Winner: C-Class
The C-Class is definitely worth the money; that’s why it won our Best of award and a spot in our garage for a year. The as-tested S60 comes up a bit short in this category mainly because you can’t get the awesome supercharged and turbocharged four-cylinder with all-wheel drive. We’ve also tested the S60 with smaller wheels and a not as firm suspension and come away impressed at the performance and price. But that was not in this test. The C-Class and this S60 are separated by $310 – the S60 is pricier – easily handing this category to the C-Class.

 

Results

 

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Winner: C-Class
It won more categories and more total points from our two testers, and well … while the S60 is a nice car when weighed on its own merits, put next to the C-Class it comes up short. However, we could see some shoppers being swayed by those rich leather seats and the Swedish design. Otherwise, it’d be hard not to be wowed by everything the C-Class offers.

Photo of David Thomas
Former managing editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon. Email David Thomas

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