2023 Mercedes-Benz C300 Overview: The best of the bunch?
While its EVs garnered most of the automaker’s marketing budget and general hype recently, Mercedes-Benz is still keeping its sedan lineup alive into 2023 and beyond, ranging from the iconic S-Class to this: the smaller and more affordable C-Class. Even though it’s technically the entry-level sedan in the range — the diminutive A-Class left our market last year — this W206-generation C-Class looks every bit as high-end as its larger E and S siblings. It also needs to stand out against its perennial rivals from Audi and BMW, however, so even this C300 version is available with an AMG Line package to make it feel just that bit sportier and special than you might expect from an “executive” sedan.
Should you consider the 2024 model instead?
Since I last reviewed the revised C-Class, there haven’t been too many changes to worry about this year. Looking forward to 2024, though, the C300 gets a wireless smartphone charging pad, parking sensors and SiriusXM satellite radio as standard fare (it’s a $350 option for 2023). That last one is a nice touch, in my opinion, as even luxury automakers squirrel away satellite radio in their top-end trims, for some weird reason (the same story goes for navigation…we have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Can automakers please knock that off?). Here, at least you won’t have to pay a ton of extra cash for that relatively minor upgrade.
No C-Class coupe or convertible models are available from here on out, either. Mercedes-Benz discontinued those models, and the company is more or less combining its two-door C- and E-Class cars into a single model: the new CLE-Class. That will arrive in dealerships early next year.
Pricing for the 2023 Mercedes-Benz C-Class starts with the rear-wheel drive C300, at $46,000 (including destination). Picking up 4Matic all-wheel drive, as we have in this test model, ups the starting price to $48,000. From there, you can hit around $60,000 with options for this 2.0-liter-powered model once you factor in higher trim levels and options.
If you’re looking for a more dynamic and powerful driving experience, there’s either the mid-range Mercedes-AMG C43 (starting at $61,050) or the C63 S E-Performance, the latter of which makes a whopping 671 horsepower from its four-cylinder-backed plug-in hybrid powertrain. No official pricing information is available for 2024 models yet, but we don’t expect the MSRP to move much (budget an extra $1,000 or so compared to 2023 models).
Even without an AMG powertrain, the Mercedes-Benz C300 is plenty quick
While enthusiasts may get distracted by the glitz, glamor and of course the power of an AMG model, the 2023 Mercedes-Benz C300 actually offers as much grunt as you feasibly need in a daily driver. The 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, for its part, puts out 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque through a 9-speed automatic transmission. By default, it powers the rear wheels, though you can obviously get all-wheel drive as an option. For this generation, the four-pot also sees a 48-volt mild hybrid system upgrade, adding an additional 20 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque for short periods, like when you’re taking off from a standstill.
Down at sea level, you can absolutely make a 0-60 sprint in the low-5-second range. It’s a bit slower up at elevation, but Mercedes’ engineers did a great job tuning the C-Class’ engine to put its power down in a nice, linear surge when you stamp the accelerator. Even for a base model luxury sedan, the C300 4Matic is satisfyingly nimble, though you do have to keep in mind this car’s chief rival. If this car can’t handle, then a lot of folks will skip straight over the three-pointed star and snag a BMW 330i xDrive instead.
While I did appreciate how planted the C300 was in spirited driving, it’s not entirely without fault.
The brakes lack much feel, so you often have to press harder than you thought you would, which isn’t ideal while you’re carving canyons. It’s a similar story for the steering, unfortunately. As is the way with a lot of modern cars, the weight is there, but you don’t get a distinct sense of what the front wheels are actually doing when you turn into a corner. While this car trades blows with the 3 Series, BMW still has the edge in terms of driving engagement. And if you want a surefooted all-weather car, it’s tough to ignore the Audi A4. As far as fun goes, the Mercedes-Benz C300 more or less splits the difference between its German rivals.
The C300 competes well on fuel economy
Whether due to lack of budget or just not needing a full-on AMG, the 2023 Mercedes-Benz C300 does have another upside with its EPA mileage estimates. If you go for the rear-wheel drive model, you can expand to land somewhere between 25 mpg city and 36 mpg highway. 4Matic all-wheel drive knocks those numbers down to 24 mpg city and 33 mpg highway, which are right in line with the Audi and the BMW. Mercedes fits the C-Class with a slightly larger fuel tank, though, so you’ll get better overall driving range out of the 2.0-liter-equipped C300 of around 470 miles.
The C-Class’ interior is its main appeal
While it isn’t necessarily mind-blowing to drive, things definitely look up once you look around inside the 2023 Mercedes-Benz C300. Like the bigger E- and S-Class models, you get a thoroughly high-tech experience with a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and a vertically-oriented 11.9-inch infotainment screen. Naturally, it’s running the latest version of Mercedes’ MBUX system, right down to the “Hey Mercedes” voice assistant functionality.
Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability come as part of the C300 no matter which model you buy, though this specific car in Premium trim did not have wireless charging (again, that won’t be an issue for 2024), Mercedes’ augmented reality video for navigation or a head-up display. This car does have navigation equipped, though as a $650 standalone option. The Burmester 3D surround sound system is also a $650 option, unless you upgrade to a higher trim.
All that said, the C300’s interior is one of the most distinctive in terms of styling and features, including a fingerprint scanner to authenticate each driver’s personalized settings, just below the center screen. The Sienna Brown leatherette seats are perfectly comfortable, while the metal weave trim on the dashboard and center console make the car feel a bit sportier than your absolute base C300.
The W206-generation C-Class is roughly 2.5 inches longer than its predecessor, with a 1-inch longer wheelbase. The automaker says that improves legroom, but things are still fairly tight if you’re sitting in the back. Again, you get leatherette seats, but not much else in the way of amenities other than a couple HVAC vents and a small storage cubbie. You can get a total of six USB-C ports with two in the rear armrest and a 12-volt power outlet for rear passengers if you get a $300 Advanced USB Package.
Watch the options…
Sticking with options, it’s worth noting that specifying your C-Class with bells and whistles can add up, depending on your starting point. For example, this $48,000 C300 I tested packs $9,185-worth of options (and it still doesn’t have every box checked).
Among the most expensive extras, you’ll have to shell out $3,400 for the AMG Line with Night Package. That adds in sportier body styling elements, 18-inch five-spoke wheels, gloss black exterior trim, a chrome grille with a three-pointed star mesh pattern, a sport brake/suspension/steering setup, a sportier steering wheel and front seats, stainless steel pedal covers and leatherette “MB-Tex” upper dash trim. Mercedes’ “Digital Light” headlamps are another $1,100, the Driver Assistance Package is $1,700, a panoramic roof is $1,000…you get the idea.
Less expensive options include the upgraded Burmester system at $650, as well as a heated steering wheel for $350. Ventilated front seats cost $450, enhanced ambient lighting is another $250, and you can get double-paned acoustic window glass for $150.
So, while you can technically get the C-Class for under $50,000, you may need to inflate your budget substantially depending on how many extra toys you want. You have been warned (though it’s hardly the first time you’ve seen this, if you’ve been shopping most of the luxury brands).
Verdict: The 2023 Mercedes-Benz C300 is definitely worth a look
I said last year that the revamped, entry-level C-Class is all the Mercedes you really need, and I stand by that. AMGs are a lot more fun, sure, but if you need that badge and you don’t want to break the bank, the C300 is a great option — and indeed the spec most people will actually buy of their own volition.
The 2023 Mercedes-Benz C300 comes with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection as standard, but most of the cooler driver assistance features are locked behind the $1,700 Driver Assistance Package. The compact C-Class also comes with 4 years or 50,000 miles of warranty coverage, though it’s worth noting you do not get complimentary maintenance, and you get three years with BMW, Genesis and Volvo.
Still, the new C-Class is the most refined one yet, and worth your time if you’re shopping around for a right-sized sedan with class.
Source : TFLCAR