A Swedish challenger for the German titan

Launched in conjunction with the grand opening of Volvo’s new manufacturing plant in South Carolina, the third-generation S60 compact executive four-door brings a host of fresh features to make it competitive in the segment. However, Mercedes-Benz commands a strong position here as well thanks to it’s best-selling C-Class, which recently received an update for the 2019 model year at the 2018 Geneva International Motor Show. So then - which is the better buy? To find out, we put them side by side and dived into the specs.

Continue reading for the full comparison.

2019 Volvo S60 vs. 2019 Mercedes C-Class Exterior

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Note: 2019 Volvo S60 pictured on the left, 2019 Mercedes-Benz C-Class pictured on the right.

Let’s kick things off with the S60, which is looking rather sleek as it heads into its next generation model year.The horizontal plane is emphasized via a slew of rectangular design elements, including drawn-back headlights, a squared-off central intake, and a low, squat stance. The same is true in the rear, where the new taillight housings stretch across into the trunk in a U-shape design. A long hood line and square rear give it a coupe-like profile. Standard equipment includes a panoramic moonroof, LED headlights, LED taillights, and18-inch aluminum wheels, while 19-inch wheels are optional.

On to the Mercedes, which enters the 2019 model year with an updated frontend decked out in fresh headlight housings, with LEDs equipped as standard. An LED Intelligent Light System with High Performance headlights and Ultra Wide high beams is an available option. LEDs come as standard for the taillights as well. Complementing the tail is a new new rear bumper, plus a redesigned diffuser element. Standard chrome trim adds a dash of bling, while the AMG-Line option throws in a diamond radiator grille for even more flash. Standard 17-inch twin five-spoke wheels sit in the corners.

Comparison: 2019 Volvo S60 vs. 2019 Mercedes C-Class Exterior Wallpaper quality
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While both cars look good, we find ourselves drawn more to the Volvo. The S60’s design just feels newer, fresher, and sleeker.

While both cars look good, we find ourselves drawn more to the Volvo. The S60’s design just feels newer, fresher, and sleeker, mixing both elegance and futuristic vibes to create something that stands out from the crowd. By contrast, the Merc is a bit of a rehash of a design we’ve seen a million times before. Sure, it isn’t ugly, but the Mercedes C-Class just doesn’t have the same pop as the new S60.

WIN - Volvo S60

Volvo S60 Mercedes-Benz C-Class
Wheelbase (Inches) TBA 111.8
Length (Inches) TBA 184.5
Width (w/ mirrors) (Inches) TBA 79.5
Width (w/o mirrors) (Inches) TBA 71.3
Height (Inches) TBA 56.8
Track (front / rear) (Inches) TBA 61.5 / 60.9

2019 Volvo S60 vs. 2019 Mercedes C-Class Interior

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Note: 2019 Volvo S60 pictured on the left, 2019 Mercedes-Benz C-Class pictured on the right.

Sit yourself in the Volvo, and you’ll find a rather familiar sight. The overarching design is more or less a direct carryover from what we’ve seen from Volvo in the recent past, plucked from models like the XC90, S90, and V60. The look is simple and straightforward, with tall vertical vents in the central dash flanking a tall tablet-style infotainment touchscreen. To provide extra infotainment support, Volvo included Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a 4G wireless web connection, as well as additional app support too. It’s also worth noting that the S60 shares the same Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) as the V60 and XC60, which means it should be quite safe in the event of a collision.

Moving on to the Mercedes, we find the C-Class takes its cues from the S-Class, using a more horizontal layout and wide center console. The vents are round in the Merc, dotting the dash from side to side. Trim options include Natural Grain Walnut Wood, as well as Natural Grain Grey Oak, and there’s a slick 3D finish for it as well. Upholstery color options include Gray and Black, as well as Saddle Brown, and Silk Beige/Black for AMG Line vehicles. There’s an option for a fully digital instrument display with multiple display modes, measuring in at 12.3-inches in the diagonal, while the standard display uses a two-tube instrument cluster and a 5.5-inch color display. The stand-up display on the dash comes with a standard 7.0-inch unit and an optional 10.25-inch unit, both of which offer multiple display modes. Drivers get to grips with a leather-clad steering wheel equipped with Touch Control Buttons, which utilize swiping motion inputs similar to a smartphone. There’s also a haptic feedback controller in the center console, as well as voice control. Optional features include a heads-up display and high-tech Comand navigation.

Comparison: 2019 Volvo S60 vs. 2019 Mercedes C-Class Interior
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Once again, we find ourselves impressed by both vehicles, but it’s the Merc that holds our attention over the Volvo. The design looks and feels more like a luxury sedan should.

Once again, we find ourselves impressed by both vehicles, but it’s the Merc that holds our attention over the Volvo. The design looks and feels more like a luxury sedan should, and while the Volvo is nice, we think we’d prefer the C-Class for an extended stay. Throw in the long list of options for the tech and materials, and we think the Merc takes the win in this category.

WIN - Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Volvo S60 Mercedes-Benz C-Class
Head room (front / rear) (Inches) TBA 37.1 / 37.1
Leg room (front / rear) (Inches) TBA 41.7 / 35.2
Cargo Volume (seats up) (cu ft) TBA 12.6

2019 Volvo S60 vs. 2019 Mercedes C-Class Drivetrain And Performance

2019 Volvo S60
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The third-gen S60 hits the market as the first-ever Volvo car sold without a diesel engine option. Instead, the top of the range is occupied by the twin-charged T8 plug-in hybrid, a powerplant that creates up to 400 horsepower when utilizing its rear electric motor. Other engine options include the T5 FWD (250 horsepower) and T6 AWD R-Design (316 horsepower). However, speed addicts will want to get into the Polestar Engineered trim level, which offers upgrades to the range-topping T8 Twin Engine model with new body components, new wheels, beefier brakes and suspension, plus, most importantly, more power. Peak output is uprated to an impressive 415 horsepower, and we expect a run to 60 mph well under the 5-second mark.

Volvo S60 T5 Volvo S60 T6 Volvo S60 T8
Engine 2.0-liter four-cylinder 2.0-liter four-cylinder 2.0-liter four-cylinder + electric motor
Horsepower 254 HP 360 HP 400 HP combined
Torque 295 LB-FT 300 LB-FT 480 LB-FT

Meanwhile, the Mercedes C-Class comes with a new 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder making upwards of 255 horsepower, and increase of 14 horsepower over the outgoing model. Torque is unchanged at 273 pound-feet, while a 9G-Tronic nine-speed automatic transmission routes it all. RWD is standard while AWD is optional. There are several faster options available as well, including the mid-tier C43 and top-dog C63, the former of which makes 285 horsepower and the latter of which makes 469 horsepower.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class
Engine Type 2.0L Turbo I4
Engine Material Aluminum-Alloy
Valvetrain / Arrangement DOHC, 4-valves per cylinder
Displacement (cc) 1,991
Bore (in / mm) 3.27 / 83.0
Stroke (in / mm) 3.62 / 92.0
Compression Ratio 9.8 : 1
Horsepower @ rpm 255 @ 5,500
Torque @ rpm 273 @ 1,300 – 4,000
Transmission Type 9G-TRONIC PLUS
0-60 mph (sec) 5.8
Top Speed (mph) 130 (electronically limited)
Comparison: 2019 Volvo S60 vs. 2019 Mercedes C-Class Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Side by side, the Volvo stands out as having the more impressive drivetrain and performance setup.

Side by side, the Volvo stands out as having the more impressive drivetrain and performance setup. The high-tech T8 and stout T5/T6 make for quite the lineup, and while the C-Class isn’t far behind, we’re gonna go with Volvo in this category.

WIN - Volvo S60

2019 Volvo S60 vs. 2019 Mercedes C-Class Technology

2019 Volvo S60 Interior
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In addition to strong bones, the S60’s safety is upped by tech like City Safety with Autobrake technology, Run-off Road Mitigation, Oncoming Lane Mitigation, and optional Cross Traffic Alert. There’s also a few convenience features, such as the optional Pilot Assist system.

Likewise, the Merc also comes with a variety of sensors and data to offer semi-autonomous driving “in certain situations.” For example, there’s the Active Distance Assist Distronic system, Active Lane Change Assist, Active Emergency Stop Assist, and Active Steering Assist. Active Brake Assist comes as standard, and there’s a Car-to-X communication warning system, realtime weather info, parking info, and more. Finally, a Qi wireless device charging system keeps the electrons flowing.

Comparison: 2019 Volvo S60 vs. 2019 Mercedes C-Class Interior
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All told, the Volvo and Merc offer more or less the same level of tech, so we’ll have to call this one a draw.

All told, the Volvo and Merc offer more or less the same level of tech, so we’ll have to call this one a draw. Whether it’s keeping you safe or making it easier to get from A to B, both the S60 and the C-Class are quite capable in the tech category.

WIN - TIE

2019 Volvo S60 vs. 2019 Mercedes C-Class Pricing

2019 Volvo S60 Exterior
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The third-generation S60 line starts with the T5 FWD for $35,800, followed by the T6 AWD for $40,300 and the T8 Twin Engine Plug-In Hybrid for $54,400. Trim levels include the Momentum, the R-Design (adds high gloss black trim for the window surrounds, mirror caps, and front grille, a metal mesh inlay and perforated leather inside, Nappa leather sport seats, and an open grid textile R-Design leather-wrapped gear shifter), and Inscription (adds bright chrome window trim, front grille accents, driftwood trim inlays, four-zone electric climate control, power front seats with lumbar support, and power cushion extensions).

In addition to the traditional purchase and lease options, Volvo is also offering the S60 under its Care by Volvo program, described by the automaker as a “premium subscription service [that] offers car access with no down payment via a monthly flat rate. Care by Volvo makes having a car as easy as having a mobile phone.” Pricing for the subscription service comes to $775 monthly for a “well-equipped” S60 T6 AWD Momentum model, and $850 monthly for an S60 T6 AWD R-Design.

Meanwhile, the Mercedes-Benz lines starts with the C 300, which goes for $40,250, followed by the C 43 for $53,400 and the C 63 for $66,100.

2019 Volvo S60 Exterior
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All in all, the Volvo seems like it offers more bang for your buck compared to the Mercedes.

All in all, the Volvo seems like it offers more bang for your buck compared to the Mercedes, as it essentially undercuts the C-Class at every turn. Throw in the option for Volvo’s subscription service, and the S60 solidifies a win in this category.

WIN - Volvo S60

Final Thoughts

2019 Volvo S60 Exterior
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Looking over the various sections listed above, it’s the Volvo S60 that takes this particular comparison. However, there’s one thing left to mention here - badge presence.

Looking over the various sections listed above, both vehicles put up a strong fight, but it’s the Volvo S60 that takes this particular comparison. The Merc might have a nicer interior, but we’re loving the Volvo’s exterior aesthetic, drivetrain offerings, and pricing, while the technology is a wash between the two.

However, there’s one thing left to mention here - badge presence. The sort of thing that gets mentioned casually at fancy parties or looks at home in the country club parking lot, both home turf for the Merc. This is where the C-Class truly shines, beating the Volvo thanks to years at the top of the luxury game. The association is undeniable.

Of course, that could change in the future, as Volvo has been on a tear lately revamping its image from sleepy family-mover to world-beating luxury provider. Of course, it’ll take a while before it can overtake the mighty Merc badge in that respect.

Which would you rather have?

Further reading

2019 Volvo S60 Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2019 Volvo S60.

Comparison: 2019 Volvo S60 vs. 2019 Mercedes C-Class Exterior Interior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

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