The Mercedes-Benz C-Class has been setting the benchmark in the entry-level luxury compact car segment for quite some time. And it continues to do so with the introduction of the fifth-gen C 300 showcasing new styling and technology, some of which is borrowed from the full-size S-Class. Read on.
Designers have made several changes to give the vehicle an even sportier look than previously, for example introducing the so-called “cab-backward” language where the windshield and rest of the greenhouse are moved backward so the hood appears longer. The former grill shape is flipped 180 degrees into an appealing thinner A-shape, housing a large emblem flanked by a single chrome blade slicing through the diamond open-star pattern.
Adding to the aggressive profile are raised bumps, or power domes, on the hood, two-piece horizontal LED taillights (a first on the model), higher shoulder line and 18-inch AMG split five-spoke alloy wheels on our Night Package equipped loaner. Five different paint colours join the palette bringing the total to 12 — the sedan looks particularly attractive in a neutral colour like Opalith White Metallic helping highlight the contrasting black trim and door pillars.
One of the items the C 300 borrows from its bigger sibling is the large 11.9-inch portrait-oriented touchscreen, mounted right below the aeronautic-inspired central air vents and slightly tilted towards the driver. Whether you’re a fan of all the digitization happening in the auto industry or not, the setup here is stunning and is fairly intuitive to operate. Directly adjacent is a free-standing 12.3-inch electronic instrument panel displaying gauges and vehicle info.
Like in the S-Class, the MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User eXperience) infotainment packs more processing power, is learning-capable and includes advanced Voice Control. Occupants simply have to say, “Hey Mercedes,” and follow-up with a request to raise the climate control temperature, or load up a playlist using natural language. There’s a large amount of personalization available as well and individual users can save their profiles and load them up any time after pressing on the fingerprint reader located next to the hazard lights button.
This car is the first in the lineup to debut a four-cylinder version of the brand’s mild hybrid mill: the turbocharged 2.0-litre unit features an integrated starter generator utilizing a 48-volt on-board electrical system — enabling a temporary acceleration boost, zero-emissions “gliding” at low speeds and smoothened start/stop engine functionality similar to the inline-six variant found in the GLE — producing 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque.
Performance feels quicker than what the output numbers indicate, no doubt aided by the extra 20 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque as mentioned above kicking in during initial throttle application. Handling is as sharp as expected from the German marque, the sedan sitting on a four-link front and multi-link rear suspension that at the same time yields a pretty comfortable while just cruising city streets.
A lot of driver assistance tech is offered such as Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC, Active Steering Assist and Active Lane Change Assist allowing the car to automatically maintain speed and spacing on the freeway. Active Stop-and-Go Assist is new, providing semi-autonomous support in traffic jams when travelling up to 60 km/h.
The 2023 Mercedes-Benz C 300 is in dealerships now.
Highlights (as tested):
Motor: 2.0-litre turbocharged inline-four cylinder
Horsepower: 255 @ 5,800 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 295 @ 2,000 rpm
Gearbox: nine-speed automatic
Layout: all-wheel drive
Fuel economy: 8.6 L/100 km mixed city/highway (manufacturer estimate)