2016 BMW 340i vs 2016 Mercedes-Benz C450 AMG

The specs for these sport sedans don't tell the whole story.

17

Two old foes are at it again.

The never-ending battle of one-upmanship between BMW and Mercedes-Benz rages on. With the arms race for more power taking the M3 and C63 AMG to such ridiculous heights, both manufacturers have spotted an opportunity to fill the gap between these super sedans and the brand’s more pedestrian offerings.

Same Mission, Different Strategies

Mercedes’ solution is to introduce a new model, the ambitiously titled C450 AMG. Using a beefed-up version of the 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 engine found in the C400, the new car makes 362 hp and, more importantly, 384 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to all four wheels through a seven-speed automatic transmission.

BMW is approaching things from a different angle. The 3 Series was once the king of the compact luxury sport sedan market, but recent offerings have gone a bit soft. So instead of adding another 3 Series variant, the company has decided to refresh the car from the ground up and replace the 335i with the new 340i.

SEE ALSO: 2016 BMW 340i xDrive Review

Not to be confused with BMW’s other 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder engines, the 340i uses a new turbocharged inline-six that generates 320 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. Unlike the Mercedes, power can be sent to all four wheels or just the pair in the rear and there is a choice in transmissions. Standard is a six-speed manual unit with a ZF derived eight-speed automatic as optional.

2016-BMW-340i-vs-2016-Mercedes-Benz-C450-AMG-02

Specs Don’t Always Add Up

Even though both cars are still considered compacts, nothing is compact about their weights. When equipped with 4Matic all-wheel drive, the C450 AMG weighs in at a portly 3,748 pounds. But that isn’t all that bad compared to the BMW 340i xDrive that’s in desperate need of a diet, crushing the scales at 3,820 lbs.

So, with lighter weight and a lot more power, the Mercedes is easily the faster car, right? Well, not according to the manufacturers. BMW has the 340i xDrive pegged for a zero-to-60 mph run in a time of 4.6 seconds while Mercedes claims the C450 AMG takes a little bit longer to reach 60 mph, needing 4.8 seconds.

And on the road, the disparity seems even greater. The C450 never seems to have the same urgency as the 340i, no matter which of the drive modes is engaged. There’s also a delay when trying to enlist some sudden acceleration while rolling at low speeds. A big pause occurs from when the throttle is depressed to the point in which the vehicle actually start to move with authority.

2016-BMW-340i-vs-2016-Mercedes-Benz-C450-AMG-05

The Magic is in the Transmission

Some of this delay has to do with Mercedes’ seven-speed automatic, a transmission I’ve complained about being slow to react in the past. Once underway though, shift times improve and boost builds quickly.

But try as it may, the Mercedes transmission can’t match the eight-speed found in the 340i. It’s one of the most enjoyable eight-speed automatics I have driven. It’s not exactly fun, but it sucks the least amount of joy from the driving experience compared to most automatic transmissions. It actually wants me to play with the paddle shifters and change my own gears – a similar feeling I get with the Corvette and Jaguar F-Type’s eight-speed autos.

2016-BMW-340i-vs-2016-Mercedes-Benz-C450-AMG-04

Loud vs Illegitimate

Even if the C450 doesn’t feel as quick or responsive in a straight line, it does win when it comes to sound. It’s easily the louder of the two cars and has a nice exhaust note that’s not too intrusive, but always lets you know it’s there. And when things get a little furious behind the wheel, the C450 emits those telltale German pops and barks during redline up shifts.

SEE ALSO: Five-Point Inspection: 2015 Mercedes-Benz C400 4Matic

The 340i isn’t as loud as the C450 from inside the cabin, but does generate a pleasing straight-six soundtrack under hard driving. The problem is, not all of that sound is genuine, as it’s being partially enhanced through the car’s audio system. What has me perplexed is why this is needed as the 340i already makes plenty of real noise from outside the cabin.

Compare Specs

BMW 340i xDrive
vs
Mercedes-Benz C450 AMG 4Matic
Vehicle BMW 340i xDrive Advantage Mercedes-Benz C450 AMG 4Matic
Engine 3.0 L turbocharged Inline-6 - 3.0 L turbocharged V6
Horsepower 320 hp C450 362 hp
Torque 332 lb-ft. C450 384 lb-ft.
Weight 3,820 lbs. C450 3,748 lbs.
0-60 MPH 4.6 seconds 340i 4.8 seconds
Rear Legroom 35.1-inches - 35.2-inches
Trunk Space 13 cubic feet 340i 12.6 cubic feet
Fuel Economy (US) 22 mpg city, 33 mpg highway 340i 21 mpg city, 29 mpg highway
Fuel Economy (CDN) 10.9 L/100 km city, 7.2 L/100 km highway 340i 11.2 L/100 km city, 8.1 L/100 km highway
Observed Fuel Economy 23.1 mpg 340i 22.8 mpg
Starting Price(US) $48,795 340i $51,725
Starting Price(CDN) $56,595 340i $58,395
As Tested Price(US) $59,945 340i $60,920
As Tested Price(CDN) $66,445 340i $68,725

That Magic Feeling

Even if the sounds aren’t all that legitimate, the 340i’s handling prowess most definitely is. The car has that connected feeling that’s been missing in recent 3 Series models. I don’t know what it is about this car that feels like a return of BMWs of old, but it’s there. Steering, handling and braking are all lively and ooze confidence.

It’s that confidence that’s lacking the in C450 AMG. I was hoping the car would be somewhat of a C 63 lite, but instead it’s just a faster C400. There isn’t a big difference in handling over the C400 and the car lacks that next level of urgency found in the 340i. On twisting back roads, I felt more comfortable exploring the limits of the BMW, whereas I never felt fully comfortable pushing the Mercedes-Benz. Part of the issue is a stability control that’s a bit too eager to step in and a little too aggressive in its engine suppression when the faintest bit of slip is detected.

2016-BMW-340i-vs-2016-Mercedes-Benz-C450-AMG-36

Performance is Nice, But is There Some Luxury?

With the BMW holding a decisive performance edge, it’s not all bad news for Mercedes-Benz. The C-Class definitely holds the advantage when it comes to interior style. There isn’t much on the market that exudes luxury and opulence like the C-Class does for the price. The center stack is a near work of art and many of us love the open-pore wood. The cranberry interior may not be my first choice, but it’s a nice contrast and there are other color options.

The 340i does have some merits of its own, like a front seat that offers greater adjustability and a thicker, nicer feeling steering wheel. And some preferred the Bimmer’s wide-screen infotainment display rather than the Benz’s larger, protruding screen. But when it comes to iDrive versus COMAND, it really is just a matter of personal preference, as either system can be used fairly easily once learned.

2016-BMW-340i-vs-2016-Mercedes-Benz-C450-AMG-03

The Verdict: 2016 BMW 340i vs 2016 Mercedes-Benz C450 AMG

But luxury isn’t going to win the day with these cars, performance is and when it comes to compact performance luxury sedans, the BMW 340i is the better option over the Mercedes-Benz C450 AMG. Welcome back, 3 Series.

2016 BMW 340i xDrive

2016 Mercedes-Benz C450 AMG 4Matic

  • Naang Phet

    German cars are so cheap. Imagine paying huge money for a car with infotainment made of chinese tablet. And worse with interiors panels made of chinese plastic and the most fake german designed chinese made fake leather. On top of ot all, german cars comes with chinese engine. ( made in china, i mean)

  • Ran

    Where did you get this information from?

  • cf_and_metal_4get_plastic

    No picture of the Bimmer’s interior, because IMHO, the Merc looks as bad as a Bugatti, even Veyronesque, so if that is being called ‘style’ the BMW must truly be awful…

    But from what I see online it is much more businesslike and practical inside.

    This, along with attributes like noise, price, performance and driveline place the C400 firmly behind the 340i in so many ways (inc. external styling) that it’s surprising to read a review that mentions but does not call Mercedes out on such a poor effort.

  • cf_and_metal_4get_plastic

    Uh, China? Most large German Auto Cos have big factories there. They have to make something, and I know they make many Audi & VW models. Also BMW source many plastic and metal components there. BMW may be buying from the Chinese where pollution is state-sponsored, and the company is not what it used to be, but it is nothing like GM in terms of outsourcing and quality control.

  • Glenn CruzCancel

    So the original question remains…where are you getting your information? it sounds pretty water cooler…sea layer…pundit, in nature…do you actually know what you are talking about or are you another ignorant TROLL?

  • livinintheusa

    Just drove both the BMW M4 and the C450 with Designo interior. While not comparable models, in my opinion the Designo interior is one of the best interiors I have ever sat in. I drove a 911 4S a few weeks earlier and the C450 beats it by a mile as well. The Designo diamond pattern seats and side panels had me thinking Bentley.

  • Steve

    Auto plants in China build cars for the Chinese markets. Government policy given to car companies to open factory in China to create jobs in order to sell cars in China and only in China. Cars sold in the rest of the world are built in Germany. Get your facts before farting all over the internet

  • iotanthesaint

    Good for you, Naang Phet, if you consider german cars cheap. I guess you made it 🙂 . Unfortunately, for me they are not. But worth every penny. And so I buy them. Though not for infotainment tablets. Wherever these tablets are made, fortunately the rest 95% of the cars are made in Germany as clearly is stated on the stickers and parts labels (with the rest 5% in Canada and US). You would notice if bought one. Of course, it could be different with Lamborgini or Buratti which probably are your turf :-). If I ever get to that level maybe I will also consider BMW leather look like fake but personally Im pretty happy with it at the moment.

  • rallyredevo

    I’ve driven both. The Mercedes is as capable as I need, nicer looking than anything in its class by far, and simply sounds and feels better than the BMW. It has more of that special feeling than the bmw if you aren’t celebrating the fact BMW finally found some driving dynamics after having lost them as of late. The Bavarian doesn’t really blow the Benz away though, and if my seat tells me anything it’s that I’d feel much better in the Benz on a track than the bimmer. I wouldn’t doubt if the Merc edged out the bimmer with lap times.

  • KTP

    Guess you are little off with your evaluation. The MB C450 AMG beats the BMW 340i in 0-60 time (4.4 vs 5.1), the 1/4 mile time (13.0 vs 13.6) and lateral acceleration (0.93 vs 0.83 g). You may subjectively prefer the BMW but the Mercedes is clearly the superior performer in objective performance tests. Please test actual performance before posting “data” in your comparisons.

  • Simon Moon

    BMW also feels much smaller and more cramped inside. Their doors are bloated.

  • JL L

    I’ve owned both with the C450 as my current car. Granted my BMW was a 335 (2014 model year), so I will not comment on performance as the 340 has 14 more horse power than my 335 and my comparison would be flawed and in the Mercedes’s favor. Otherwise, and I say this as a lifelong BMW owner and fan, the Mercedes is superior in every way. Form, fit, finish and function. Everything about the C450 is a staggering improvement over my last BMW. The day I picked up the Benz, I had to drive the BMW next door (same dealership) to return it and it felt 10 years old instead of 2, just from sitting in my new car for 5 minutes. As I said earlier, I cannot comment on the performance comparison because it would not be fair to the BMW as I would not be comparing apples to apples. I do “feel” the Benz takes that competition as well.

  • John Smith

    You are unlearned. You’re quoting the 0-62 mph version of the BMW without XDrive. As they said, the performance difference is what they experienced in real world testing, not what the stats say. Can you crybaby fanboys just knock it off.

  • John Smith

    All the shill posts I see always take up the same format. You are a lifelong fan of one manufacturer, but the other one is just so superior. The internet is full of deception, genuine people should be very careful what they believe from the endless shilling.

  • JL L

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6ba2078fd0018abebc816a8a1968f7ae65b31bdf3a14c72c3767938365e42ddd.png

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/41aa8f5dce1e10aaa861f45ffe871ab09060e0781a3717aa6777e2debde2693f.png

    Genuine people should be very careful of the opinions of those who post from emotion and not fact or at least experience. I have no reason to shill for a manufacturer. I posted my honest opinion, regardless of where my brand “fandom” resides. A better portion of the past 30 years I have been driving, has been behind the wheel of various BMW’s. I happen to think my current gen MB is a better car than my recently sold, current gen BMW. I’ve posted pics of both cars, recently parked in my garage. Notice the wheeled trash can in the back right hand side of the pics….

  • JL L

    0 – 60 times are an absurd measurement because 10 people will come up with 10 different times. And if we did get 10 people to test 0-60 times of these two cars, I’ll bet we get close to a 50/50 split, BMW to MB. Furthermore, I’ll wager that all the times are within 2 – 3 tenths. That said, you like to call people shill’s and crybaby’s and fanboys yet you offer no actual opinion of your own. Actually, you seem to be the only crybaby. Oh and don’t look now, but fanboyism is showing.

  • Simran

    great article . I am not biased for either brands . I test drove C43 And 340 Today and this is my take .

    BMW Great performance . I kept wanted to drive it and not stop at all . Great on turns at high speed . With merc i was not feeling confident getting on high speed turns . The suspension wont take it . So on papers Merc may look superior. Its is not . Merc though wins hands down interior .

    I am so confused which one to to go with . The looks or performance . I am leaning towards performance aka BMW . i wish BMW interiors were decent