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First Drive: The Stylish and Innovative New Mercedes-Benz C-Class Is Worthy of the C-Suite

What the mild-hybrid C 300 4MATIC sedan lacks in overall power, it makes up for in segment-leading tech and styling.

The 2022 Mercedes-Benz C 300 4MATIC sedan. Mercedes-Benz AG

Long gone are the days of the C-Class being perceived as the runt of the Mercedes-Benz family. Since its introduction in 1982, the C-Class has been the entry-level model from the German luxury marque—the option available to those who couldn’t afford an S-Class, SL or other coveted Merc. Globally, it’s sold over 10 million units since its debut, cementing its crown as the best-selling Benz on the planet.

In the past decade, however, a slew of new models, along with what were once solely European offerings, have finally shipped across the Atlantic (such as the A-Class and B-Class lineups). These have not only made owning a Mercedes a bit more accessible to the aspirational set, but have also pushed the C-Class further upmarket. Now, for 2022, the automaker is unleashing its C 300 and C 300 4MATIC sedans in ways it never has before, presenting an impressive amount of tech, refinement, innovation and performance in a robust $45,550 base package.

The 2022 Mercedes-Benz C 300 4MATIC sedan.

The 2022 Mercedes-Benz C 300 4MATIC sedan.  Mercedes-Benz AG

Recently, Robb Report tested a C 300 4MATIC with the AMG Night Package trim option (an additional $3,050 upgrade). What immediately caught our attention was the car’s overall aesthetic. Its balanced proportions, sharply creased sheet metal and gorgeous styling—that implements Mercedes-Benz’s modern design cues—make this one of the best looking selections in the segment. This is thanks in large part to its chief design officer, Gorden Wagener. Features such as the glaring headlamps, twin tail pipes and dual power domes on the hood lend the C 300 immediate curb appeal. And our tester’s glossy, blacked-out elements from the AMG Night Package on the front splitter, grille, rear diffuser and side mirrors, plus 19-inch AMG rims (an additional $600 option) only enhanced its visual impact.

The mild-hybrid, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine inside the 2022 Mercedes-Benz C 300 4Matic sedan.

The 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine makes 255 hp and 295 ft lbs of torque.  Mercedes-Benz AG


Once inside, the second immediate impact is felt—the standout interior. All touch points, like seat controls, window buttons and knobs are metal—the knurled engine Start/Stop button exuding particular elegance, as do the perforated-metal speaker grilles that are part of the optional Burmester 3-D Surround Sound System.

The 2022 Mercedes-Benz C 300 4MATIC sedan.

What immediately caught our attention was the car’s aesthetics: its balanced proportions, sharply creased sheet metal and styling that implements Mercedes-Benz’s modern design cues.  Mercedes-Benz AG

A 12.3-inch digital-gauge cluster and 11.9-inch center touchscreen offer bright, crisp displays to engage the latest generation of Merc’s MBUX infotainment system. The surfacing materials and seats are an artificial MB-Tex leather; the two-tone look complementing the Silver Diamond Pattern that finishes across the center console—squint, and it passes for carbon fiber.

The interior of the 2022 Mercedes-Benz C 300 4Matic sedan.

An 11.9-inch center touchscreen engages the latest generation of the marque’s MBUX infotainment system.  Mercedes-Benz AG

The C 300 fires to life with a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder mill that will, admittedly, never fill the dreams of petrol-heads. Yet the power plant is built at such high volume that its engineering is reaching stunning heights. When combined with the automaker’s innovative 48 v mild-hybrid technology, the engine elicits startlingly little turbo lag. It’s the same “torque fill” solution that cars like the Acura NSX execute—the 48 v system boosting torque by 148 ft lbs and an additional 20 hp. The result? Bursts of acceleration that had us checking the spec sheet to see if this was actually a V-6 engine instead. With a total output of 255 hp and 295 ft lbs of torque, the C 300 allowed us to attack corners and push through straights in a manner that served up a surprising amount of thrills across Southern California’s Laguna Hills. Meanwhile the 4MATIC AWD, sticky summer tires and firm-but-forgiving suspension ensured we stayed well planted.

The interior of the 2022 Mercedes-Benz C 300 4Matic sedan.

The surfacing materials and seats are of artificial MB-Tex leather.  Mercedes-Benz AG

While design, luxury and performance are all Mercedes-Benz shibboleths, perhaps what most separates the C-Class from its European competitors may be its tech superiority. Mercedes-Benz has long introduced industry-first technology in its flagship S-Class, which then filters down to entry-level models years ahead of everyone else. This is the Mercedes-Benz advantage, and that timeframe between S-Class and C-Class advancements is only accelerating. In fact, optional upgrades that include stunning ambient lighting and large, bright HUD and AR-enhanced navigation are so upmarket that it places the C-Class on a tier of its own.

While buyers are increasingly opting for crossovers and SUVs, Mercedes seems intent on ensuring that its sedans are not forgotten. This latest C-Class is case in point, proving memorable for all the right reasons.

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