For this fifth generation, the German does not give a big sweep in terms of its stylistic orientation, an approach favored by German brands for durability and continuity. There are, however, differences in terms of dimensions: it increases in length by 6.5 cm while widening its tracks by 1.9 cm and 4.8 cm respectively at the front and rear. This is combined with a lowered profile of 9mm, which preserves a nice attention to proportions. Its organic shapes drape a low overhang front portion that pushes the cabin rearward. The simple lined beltline provides stability up to a rear end with a flat trunk lid. Yes, the exhaust pipes are simple concave pieces of plastic, but no one will notice them.
We often discuss the phenomenon of democratization in the automotive industry with regard to various technologies and characteristics, an advantage of economies of scale. The C-Class is a prime example. It is unquestionably the most refined compact sedan of the moment with a decor that is again directly inspired by the large S-Class sedan. Admittedly, the materials do not have the nobility of those used by its big sister, but the ‘wow’ effect, as they say in marketing, is tangible through the use of a large floating and vertical touchscreen beautifully nested in the center console. The driving position is completed by a second instrumentation screen which offers definition and black levels of exceptional quality. For space, it’s very bulky in the front, much less in the back.
Under the hood
The C-Class is driven by a single mechanical choice before having to climb the ladder of high-performance AMG versions. It’s a 2L turbocharged four-cylinder supported by an alternator-starter that can provide around twenty horsepower to fill the gaps in the heat engine. Admittedly, with 255 hp and 295 lb-ft in total, the sedan is not a natural sprinter. The mechanics performs the task in a rather generic way, providing most of its resources from 3000 rpm. Everything is delivered with a rare smoothness for a four-cylinder and maintaining very low sound levels. The nine-speed transmission isn’t the most pleasant teammate in manual mode. With 7.7 L/100 km, these mechanical components nevertheless allow good frugality.
Behind the wheel
The positioning of the C-Class focused on comfort becomes obvious from the first kilometers traveled. The steering is light and tries to isolate the driver from vibrations induced by changes in the surface as well as the behavior of the tyres. The actuation of the brake and accelerator pedals is also done without having to apply strong pressure. Soundproofing seals it all off, helping to ensure a soothing driving experience. The damping also does a remarkable job despite the fact that it is not adaptable. The sedan thus navigates with great confidence, whether it is pushed slightly in turns or not. The standard all-wheel drive maintains traction while preserving a very placid temperament. She doesn’t get lost in promises she can’t keep, in short.
The C-Class gets the latest version of the MBUX system as standard, which inevitably modernizes the cabin, but which forces the driver to make constant use of it. Thus, whether to decrease or increase the interior brightness or the sound of the audio system, or even to select the desired temperature, it is invariably necessary to navigate through various menus. The system itself is all the same well designed, reacting quickly, but this dependence induced by the absence of tangible keys annoys the user. The steering wheel, equipped with small BlackBerry-style touchpads, does not help the fluidity of navigation. They are often caught inadvertently when turning the steering wheel. The specimen tested also experienced parallel failures in terms of active driving aids.
At close to $57,000 as an entry price (without preparation costs), this fifth C-Class of the name is among the most expensive entries in its segment without having as an argument a particularly well-stocked standard equipment. However, it cultivates an undeniable impression of luxury thanks to its very well-crafted interior which deploys a refinement that few rivals manage to match. Of course, we would still have liked to benefit from more physical controls to reduce distractions. The driving experience distances itself in parallel from the dynamism of a BMW 3 Series or a Genesis G70 to adopt a more impassive posture. It’s a very good car, but will this generation go down in history? To ask the question, is to answer it.
Outstanding Smart Headlights
This C-Class can be fitted with optional smart headlights that are exceptionally powerful while avoiding blinding passing vehicles by directing the beam. The system is based on the image of a camera attached to the vehicle.
Mercedes-Benz is in a class of its own to enhance the interior visually by means of diodes placed in strategic places. When night comes, this C-Class bathes us in a very chic atmosphere, of which we can obviously adjust both the intensity and the colors.
A smooth restart
Like many cars, this Mercedes-Benz can cut its heat engine when stationary. The difference in its case is its ultra-smooth way of doing it thanks to the excellent integration of its starter-alternator.
Very disappointing audio system
Exposing its limits very early on when the decibels are turned up, the standard C-Class audio system, the only one offered, is extremely disappointing. Many models from general manufacturers offer better in much more affordable vehicles.
A spacious trunk
With its 455 L and equipped with a good opening, the trunk of the sedan has an astonishing capacity, which is barely 9 L less than that of a much larger S-Class.
Mercedes-Benz C-Class 300 4Matic
L4 DOHC 2.0L Turbocharged Mild Hybrid
255 hp at 5800 rpm
295 lb-ft from 2000 to 3200 rpm
Nine-speed automatic with manual mode
Front longitudinal engine, all-wheel drive
8.6 L/100 km (premium gasoline)
Price (with options, transport and preparation)
$74,370 (starting price $59,870)
Audi A4, Acura TLX, Alfa Romeo Giulia, BMW 3 Series, Cadillac CT4, Genesis G70, Infiniti Q50, Lexus IS and Volvo S60
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