In this ride and handling comparison, we’re pitting the 2020 (G20) BMW 320i up against its archrival – the 2020 (W205) Mercedes-Benz C200.
For a time, the common knowledge when it comes to the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class is that the 3 Series provides a sportier drive, while the C-Class is a more relaxing and comfortable car to be in. Does this still hold true today? Well, sort of.
Ride Comfort - Neither is the last word in comfort
The G20 BMW 3 Series has traded off suspension pliancy in the pursuit of driving dynamics. Even in the BMW 320i without M Sport Suspension, the ride is on the busy side.
Although it isn’t punishingly harsh, it constantly communicates the road surface to you in a controlled manner.
The 2020 Mercedes-Benz C200 AMG Line gets stiffer sports suspension over the Agility Control Suspension in the C200 Avantgarde. As a result, it’s similarly fidgety over rutted surfaces as the BMW 320i.
The difference here is the BMW 320i’s suspension moves more willingly in the middle stroke of travel, while the Mercedes-Benz C200 has a tad firmer damping that makes impacts felt.
In short, both are on the firm side, but the BMW 320i’s suspension is little more sophisticated and neither can be described as comfortable.
Handling - BMW 320i is vastly superior
Even when compared to the F30 generation 3 Series, it was already ahead of the W205 Mercedes-Benz C-Class in terms of driving experience. The G20 BMW 3 Series just pushes it to another level when it comes to handling.
Steering is telepathically precise; you simply steer the car by thinking. What’s more, the rate at which the body rolls and rotates are deliciously matched with the steering.
This cohesiveness is absent in the Mercedes-Benz C-Class regardless of variant, like the C200 we have here. The steering feels detached as it doesn’t load up as you apply more steering input, meaning there's no increase in effort as you turn the steering wheel.
Place it in corners, you’ll feel the chassis moving about, unlike the well-sorted BMW 320i. On one hand, it can be fun to manage the movements but on the other, it’s not particularly confidence inspiring.
Both the BMW 320i and the Mercedes-Benz C200 are fairly on par in terms of ride comfort. Neither provides the comfort you'd expect from a premium sedan. If comfort is what you're looking for, then you're better off with the new generation of Japanese D-segment sedans.
The difference between these two becomes apparent when it comes to handling. The BMW 320i delivers a vastly superior driving experience. But you wouldn’t expect any less from BMW, would you?