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Tech reviews

Superior Entry-Level Tech and Luxury


Progress has come in all shapes and sizes in new car lineups over the past couple of years. For some new vehicles, manufacturers have almost completely flipped the script when it comes to exterior aesthetics, such as the 2021 BMW M3. Others have made minor revisions, slowly but steadily, like the 2021 Toyota Supra 3.0 and 2022 Lexus LC 500 Coupe.

Mercedes-Benz has done more like the latter, and slowly refined its various product lines. However, for 2022, the Stuttgart brand recently unveiled its brand-new C-Class, signifying a changing of the arms with a new generation code known as W206. For those in the know, this follows a proud, long-lasting history.

In some respects, it doesn’t appear that Mercedes-Benz has done a lot to differentiate the W206 from its W205 predecessor. But major changes aren’t really Mercedes’ game. Instead, it made a host of mild revisions throughout, from what propels it down the road to how it looks, that ensure its relevance and position as a solid entry-level modern luxury offering.

Without getting too ahead of myself, they’re all welcome updates, and have molded the C-Class into an excellent entry-level European sedan. Sadly, the brand killed the A-Class for the US market, including the riotous Mercedes AMG A35. The Polar White 2022 C300 4Matic Sedan that Mercedes-Benz USA lent me during its launch event last month starts at $45,550. Then, after adding in the Power Red/Black Leather interior ($1,620), 19-inch AMG Multi spoke wheels ($600), the AMG Line with Night Package ($3,050) and a host of other driver assistance, safety, and multimedia packages; it comes to a total of $58,470 after a $1,050 Destination and Delivery fee.


Key Features

  • Mild-Hybrid Technology
  • Advanced MBUX Technology
  • All-Wheel Drive
Specifications

  • Model: C300 Sedan
  • Engine/Motor: Turbocharged 2.0-liter Inline-4 With Mild Hybrid
  • Horsepower: 255
  • Torque: 295 Pound-Feet
  • Drivetrain: All-Wheel Drive
  • Transmission: 9-Speed Automatic
Pros

  • Solid, Stable Ride
  • Decent Handling Chops
  • Excellent Luxury Amenities
Cons

  • 3,957-Pounds
  • Just Enough Power
  • Some Consumers Might Want More Drastic Styling Changes

Chic Looks Inside And Out

Upon first glance, this Polar White W206 Mercedes-Benz C300 doesn’t look a whole lot different from the W205. The grille and headlights, as well as the overall shape, are pretty similar. However, the devil is in the details, and upon closer inspection, you really start to notice the improvements. Like the front-grille that features neat Mercedes emblem accents, that’s shaped to be a tad wider at the bottom, and accompanying sharp LED headlights. While its overall shape and curb weight are on the larger side, Mercedes did a good job making it look more slender and athletic, too.

On the inside, it’s a very comfortable and welcoming environment. While it’s a bit sportier as denoted by the Power Red/Black Leather interior, this doesn’t mean cramped or featuring seats with intrusive bolsters. The seats are quite comfortable to plop down into, and overall visibility is among the best I’ve ever reviewed.

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When it comes to tech-friendliness, Mercedes-Benz is still on top with their latest iteration of their venerable MBUX system. The 11.9-inch center touchscreen display has excellent clarity and is a breeze to get used to after fiddling around with it for a few moments. My favorite new input was automatically configuring an almost-perfect seating position for my height. I quickly scrolled through Comfort menus, and changed a slider to input my exact height. I swiped it until it stated six-foot-three-inches, and the seat reclined and changed position accordingly. Then, to bathe in luxury a bit further, I turned on the massage option. I like my seating position more upright than most, so I brought the seat back a little more forward, but otherwise the fit was great.


Then, having the C300’s 12.3-inch instrument cluster straight in front was also quite welcoming and easy to configure, and you can navigate it through the steering wheel controls. Android Auto, Bluetooth, and Apple CarPlay are standard, and my tester possessed the Sound Package ($650) and Multimedia Package ($1,700). There was one moment while listening to a podcast where the MBUX system randomly shut off, though I attribute this to early test-car teething issues.

This package’s Burmester 3D Sound System absolutely excelled and provided excellent sound clarity. Combined with refined, luxury-worthy sound-insulation and optional acoustic glass ($150), the C 300 makes for a great place to sit through some lengthy podcasts while cruising down the road. This is just one of many upsides to the W206 that make it a great commuter and road trip rig.


A Confident And Comfortable Ride

The first word that comes to mind regarding how the 2022 Mercedes-Benz C300 rolls down the road is confidence. It has an excellent ride quality for everyday driving, and does a great job ironing out rougher road-surfaces. It’s solid and stable at speed on the highway, and has that unmistakably classic German weight to it, in a great way. The C300 feels solid and well-damped, and it never exhibits any noticeable jostling over highway expansion joints, bumpy on- and off- ramps, and temporary laid-down construction zone tarmac.

Around town, the C300 is all the same, and helps isolate your back from less than ideal road conditions. Mercedes seems to take the “Baby S-Class” aspect of the C-Class seriously here, as with fully-independent suspension at all four corners plus sport suspension (as part of the AMG Line with Night Package) to tie it all together – it’s quite comfortable.

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It even does well when the road gets twisty. My C300 4Matic tester had a Sport+ mode that added a decibel or two more to the exhaust system and livened up throttle response. There are no adaptive dampers here, instead sport-tuned conventional passive units that are a good tradeoff between comfort and attentive, sharp handling. The chassis felt attentive and confident through flowing mountain-top roads. The no-cost optional summer high-performance tires held up fairly well, though were a little more squirmy than I prefer. While the 4Matic all-wheel drive system isn’t the type to persuade into some fun, tail-out rascality, it did keep the rear-end planted down nicely in sharp, quick left-right successions of twisty Santa Ana Mountain roads.


Turn-in was better than I expected, and body-roll wasn’t terrible. I didn’t have high expectations, however. One quick initial jab at the brake pedal reveals that this thing isn’t engineered for lateral and longitudinal G-force enthusiasm. Overall, it was certainly nowhere near anything that the Stuttgart brand produces with an AMG badge affixed to its trunk lid, but credit where credit’s due, the baby S flexes some capability in the corners.

Healthy Power And Economy For Entry-Level Luxury

Sitting longitudinally between the front wheels of the 2022 Mercedes C300 is the three-pointed stars’ turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, internally coded as the M254 E20. This torquey aluminum powerplant produces 255 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, identical to its 2.0-liter Bavarian rival, the B48, which lives in the 2022 BMW 230i Coupe.

However, where the Bavarian option falls short is in the added electric power. That’s because Mercedes’ engine utilizes a 48-volt integrated starter-generator with lithium-ion battery that adds up to an additional 20 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque to assist with acceleration. It also replaces the engine’s accessory belts and allows for a complete gasoline engine shut-off during coasting.

RELATED: 2022 Mercedes-Benz S500 4Matic Review: Luxury At Its Finest

The 3,957-pound C300 4Matic will jump to 60 mph in 6.0-seconds. That’s not ideal, and it’s not the type of power curve to hide its curb-weight well, either, meaning it feels faster than it actually is. That’s OK, as I have to keep reminding myself that this isn’t an AMG-engineered car. For the vast majority of consumers after a solid array of technology and luxury for the 2022 C300’s sub-$60,000 price range, it’s plenty. My tester’s 9G-TRONIC 9-speed automatic transmission banged off shifts quite smoothly and effortlessly.

The 2.0-liter spins up with a complete lack of turbo lag. Getting the jump at a fresh green light takes a bit of travel with the gas pedal, but there’s plenty of torque pushing and pulling you along to make it happen. This all makes highway driving a very stress-free experience as well. Combined with the C-Class’ excellent ride and highway manners, it’s a brilliant cruiser in excess of 70 mph with plenty of passing power, making it an awesome road trip machine.

The C300’s fuel economy bolsters this aspect, which is perhaps one its best benefits if you’re thinking of buying the C-Class. Thanks in part to hybrid assistance, the heavy sedan returns as high as 23 MPG city and 33 MPG highway. Though, with a light foot rolling down a mostly flat stretch of California’s I-5 freeway through northern San Diego County, I saw as much as 36 MPG. Not bad at all.

An Overall Solid Step Forward

Despite only having a little over a day with the 2022 Mercedes C300 4Matic during its Spring 2022 launch event, it was a fun and relaxing time spent getting to know its latest luxury, tech, performance, and looks. Mercedes-Benz has proven that slow and steady progression, as well as letting high-end luxury and tech appointments trickle down to entry-level models, is a solid recipe for success, and even when spec’d to nearly $60,000, is a great way to have a comfortable all-rounder. Solid stability and confidence in all scenarios make for great additions in this class, and to return such fuel economy numbers to boot is a very nice added bonus. Especially if you don’t intend on going the luxury route with the 2023 Mercedes GLE Coupe.


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If the C300’s basic chassis and suspension design is anything to go by, the far more performance-oriented, rear-wheel drive 2023 Mercedes-AMG C43 should be quite good.




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