While we continue to mourn the slow death of the four-door sedan here in the US, over the last decade, the C-Class has remained Mercedes’ best seller worldwide. Well, a 5th generation of Benz’s compact luxury sedan is arriving now, so let’s get right to the biggers and betters.
The C-Class is an important vehicle for Mercedes-Benz. Not only because they are one brand that is still committed to building sedans, but because its new platform will be the basis of many vehicles to come. Thus, the 2022 Mercedes-Benz C300 is bigger, better, and more luxurious than ever.
A lengthened wheelbase and long hood give it very stately proportions, with it not looking “compact” at all. Body panels are highly sculpted; while the pointy-nose face with big Mercedes-Benz star encased in their signature radiator grille is the biggest clash of traditional and modern.
Bigger outside means more space inside both front and rear; mostly in additional elbow room up front, and both more head and knee room in back. The aircraft-themed interior is quite impressive to take in, as everything seems to be a nearly verbatim translation from the flagship S-class, and it almost feels like you’re getting away with something here. Cranking the optional Burmester 3D surround sound system helps ease those anxieties.
Content does escalate a little bit as you work up through Premium, Exclusive, and Pinnacle trims, but they’re more about establishing unique themes. This top Pinnacle comes with navigation and Head Up Display, but leather seating and panoramic roof are still options.
The large central tablet is tilted slightly to the driver, though the 12.3-inch gauge display looks like it was more of a requirement. Still, everything feels incredibly high tech, too much maybe; as the overuse of touch-sensitive controls, particularly on the steering wheel, can be more of an annoyance than convenience.
Fortunately, the actual driving is far from aggravating. The C300 is quite nimble for a luxury sedan that has not yet been given any AMG sporty makeover. The ride is slightly on the firm side of plush, but far from being harsh in any way. Cranked to 11 at the test track, the C300 had a very “point and shoot” feel to it, with very little steering input required to shuffle through the cones.
It was equal parts fun and confidence inspiring; as it is well planted, encouraging us to push harder and harder. 4MATIC all-wheel-drive is a two-grand option and well worth it, enhancing both cornering grip and providing additional traction for launching. The front axle drive unit has been upgraded to handle more torque and to distribute it more effectively to the tire that can do the most good with it.
Benz’s 48-volt mild-hybrid starter-generator system has trickled its way down to their 2.0-liter I4 turbo, which here in the C300 outputs 255–horsepower and 295 lb-ft. of torque. It helps the stop/start system work incredibly smoothly, but also adds a little additional torque into the mix, which enabled quick sprints to 60 of just 5.5-seconds; with no turbo lag, no wheel slip, no torque steer, just perfect launches time after time.
The automatic transmission has 9-gears to work its way through, and performed that task quickly and precisely. Power flowed linearly and mostly undisturbed the whole way down the track. We finished the ¼ in 14.2-seconds at 97. It may not be the fastest 4-cylinder sedan, but the wealth of low-end torque gives it a super smooth almost V8 vibe.
Being a luxury-minded 4-door, it was no surprise to experience a very soft brake pedal with lots of travel; but that’s not to say things aren’t working incredibly hard on down the line. It just means you’re totally isolated from the business of stopping this car from 60 in just 105-feet. Quite impressive!
Government Fuel Economy Ratings with all-wheel-drive are 23-City, 33-Highway, and 27-Combined. Our average came in just below that, at 26.2 miles-per-gallon of Premium. Making for a slightly better than average Energy Impact Score of 11.0-barrels of yearly oil use, with 5.5-tons of CO2 emissions.
Pricing starts at a more than reasonable $44,600, and even top Pinnacle stickers for under $50,000 though option packages are pricey, and you can easily tack on another 10-grand from there. But, the 2022 Mercedes-Benz C300 has become more like a baby S-Class than ever before. It looks almost exactly like their flagship sedan, and more importantly, it feels like it, too. And that’s how Mercedes-Benz continues to make the everyday driving experience truly special.
Engine: 2.0L I4 Turbo
Torque: 295 lb-ft
0-60 mph: 5.5 seconds
1/4 Mile: 14.2 seconds at 97 mph
60-0 Braking: 105 feet (avg)
EPA: 23 City / 33 Highway / 27 Combined
MW Fuel Economy: 26.2 mpg (Premium)