By on June 8, 2016

2016 Mercedes-Benz C300 Exterior Front 3/4, Image: © 2016 Steve Lynch/The Truth About Cars

2016 Mercedes-Benz C300

2.0-liter turbo I4 with direct injection (241 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm, 273 lbs-ft torque @ 1,300-4,000 rpm)

Seven-speed automatic, rear wheel drive

25 city/34 highway/28 combined (EPA rating, MPG)

31.1 over 3,800 miles, 80% highway (Observed, MPG)

Base Price: $38,950

Price as Tested: $48,285

Prices include $925 transportation charge

In 1984, during my Honda-hawking days in Texas, our neighboring Mercedes-Benz dealership was all atwitter upon Daimler introducing the first “Baby Benz,” the 190E sedan. We knew our waiting-list-only Accord was a far superior automobile but that didn’t stop two of our salespeople from buying 190Es while the rest of us stuck with our Chevy trucks. The little Mercedes was a turd: terribly unreliable, cramped and slow. Much to our delight, the media said the 190E was not worth twice the price of an Accord.

Fast forward to 2016, your humble site’s readers and writers voted the latest entry-level Mercedes, the stylish front-wheel-drive CLA250, as one of the Ten Worst Automobiles Today. Like with the 190E, the CLA is flying off dealers’ lots, so what do we know?

Mercedes-Benz introduced the latest version of the C-Class two years ago and it’s now the brand’s best-selling model in America by a large margin — not to mention handily outselling its top competitor, the BMW 3 Series.

This is finally one small Benz that everyone loves and for good reason. The C300 is a miniature S-Class.

The new C-Class is internally coded W205. I had to look that up. In my 17 years working with Mercedes-Benz USA sales executives, I never once heard them call a vehicle by its internal name. Referring to cars as E39s and W116s is strictly snooty enthusiast slang. Get a group of them together and you would think they were talking about Bingo.

2016 Mercedes-Benz C300 Exterior Side, Image: © 2016 Steve Lynch/The Truth About Cars

The new generation C is 220-pounds lighter, slightly longer and wider than its predecessor. This base C300 is powered by a new 2.o-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine making 241 horsepower. The Alabama-built C-Class is also available as a plug-in hybrid, “mini-AMG” C450 (soon to be correctly renamed the C43) with a 362-horse turbo V6, and two AMG bi-turbo V8 monsters with up to 503 horsepower.

My wife and I picked up our new Sport Package C300 last month and headed out on a 3,600-mile road trip, driving from Tucson to Seattle and then down the Oregon and California coasts, encountering literally all types of roads and weather.

Driving around Benz-crazy Seattle and San Francisco, it was fun to overtake a new-generation Mercedes sedan and try to guess if it was a C-Class or the flagship S-Class, as the similarity in styling between the two cars is striking. They will be joined in this corporate look by the all-new E-Class, due out in a few weeks.

Sadly lacking in most new Benz sedans is the historic three-pointed star hood ornament. The C-Class is available with a Luxury Package that includes this feature, but it is nearly impossible to find one. The largest Benz dealer in the country, in Southern California, has several hundred C300s in stock and none of them have the stand-up star. There are a few available on the East Coast and Midwest, but each one is a four-wheel-drive variant.

Interior

2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cockpit, Image: Mercedes-Benz

I would imagine most prospects cross-shopping the C300 against the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4 would choose the Benz for its elegant interior alone. From the aluminum toggle switches to the sweeping center stack that blends into the console to the black ash wood on our tester in which you can actually feel the grain, the environs are simply beautiful.

I must award Mercedes-Benz the honor of having The Best Placed Control Button of 2016 for its placement of the defeat switch for the annoying engine Start/Stop feature. It sits on the center console exactly where your right hand rests upon entry, so you’ll never forget to turn it off.

Kudos also to the Benz cruise control system. It easily allows you to vary your speed by 1 and 5 mile per hour increments and smoothly brakes the car on downhills. Why do most cars make you turn on the cruise control and then set the cruise? In this car, setting your speed activates the cruise.

The 14-way adjustable power seats proved comfortable and supportive during our long vacation. Being long-legged, I appreciated the support of the seat extender feature. And, yes, the seats are covered in Mercedes’ fake leather, MB Tex, as are 90-percent of its vehicles. I swear MB Tex looks more like genuine leather with each new model.

2016 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Interior, Image: © 2016 Steve Lynch/The Truth About Cars

Having a 36-inch inseam also means I have to slide the seat forward so adults can fit in the back seat. The C300 is rated as a five passenger vehicle, but I assume that means three children in the back. Two adults can ride there in comfort, albeit with limited headroom, particularly in models with the optional panorama sunroof.

The pano roof features a see-through sunshade, which means it may let in too many rays in the summer here in Arizona. Most other Benz vehicles have a solid sunshade.

The C300 features fold-down rear seats and a 12.6 cubic foot trunk, nearly identical in size to that in its big brother E-Class.

Infotainment

As I noted in my recent review of the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE350, the 8.4 inch infotainment screen propped up on the dash in newer Benz models is not so bad in person vs. the pics that caused a million internet commentators to howl “ugly!” Its graphics are much improved and it sits closer to driver’s eye level than before.

2016 Mercedes-Benz C300 COMAND Infotainment Screen, Image: © 2016 Steve Lynch/The Truth About Cars

My single biggest complaint about the C300 is the needless complexity of the new generation Comand system. It seems a function that used to take one or two button clicks or twirls of the rotary controller now takes five or six.

Memo to Mercedes-Benz: this is a car, not a website. More clicks is bad!

Having to mix and mash the controls from the four function options — the old fashion buttons, the voice control, the rotary controller and the new touchpad — is frustrating.

The C-Class cars have yet to receive the cool Apple CarPlay app as we tested in the GLE350. This model does offer the use of the MB Companion app to control many functions from afar. My favorite is its ability to find destinations in your smartphone and instantly send them to the Comand navigation system. Ironically, the nav system will not allow you to drive and enter addresses at the same time, but you can drive and type in addresses on the app on your phone.

Driving

My concern about the performance of my first-ever four-cylinder Benz was quickly put to rest. Though a bit coarse at times, the responsive motor is generally smooth and has tons of torque to propel the C300 from 0 to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds.

This car replaced my 2015 Volkswagen GTI, which I wrote had “minimal turbo lag.” I hereby retract that statement. The C300 truly has next-to-zero turbo lag. It can be felt for a microsecond at certain throttle position, but only if you are concentrating on finding it. The average consumer will never notice.

The seven-speed transmission shifts smoothly and responds instantly to the paddle shifters. The just-released C300 Coupe features a new nine-speed transmission, which will probably find its way into C sedans soon.

2016 Mercedes-Benz C300 Exterior Rear, Image: © 2016 Steve Lynch/The Truth About Cars

A run up California’s mountainous Highway 1 from the U.S. 101 to Mendocino was surprisingly entertaining, with the C300 cornering flat and staying neutral while motoring at perhaps 80 percent of its handling potential due to numerous blind corners. (But how many of us so-called “enthusiasts” really drive at more than 80%?) My only quibble was that the initial response to steering input was a bit lazy, even while in “Sport” mode.

This C300 comes equipped with the Sport Package group, which includes the choice of 18- or 19-inch wheels plus a “Sport Tuned Suspension.” (Geez, is there any automaker that does NOT use that description?) This car’s ride with the 18-inch wheels can be a bit harsh on rough roads, though typical Mercedes smooth on most other surfaces. Opting for the base or Luxury Package models with their 17 inch wheels will deliver a better ride.

The C300 is quiet and comfortable, quick enough for most folks, is loaded with advanced safety features and returns good fuel mileage. With transaction prices in the mid-$40,000s for a well-equipped C300, it is the best value in the Mercedes-Benz lineup and an excellent small luxury vehicle.

The new C-Class line has ventured into E-Class territory, but that will change shortly with the arrival of the redesigned E and its even more over-the-top interior. For the first time, the E-Class will come standard with a four-cylinder motor, the same engine featured here. Although it works well in the C300, it will be interesting to see the media’s reaction to this “C” change.

Disclosure: This C300 is one of the writer’s current Mercedes-Benz retiree lease vehicles, which are subsidized by Mercedes-Benz USA. He is the author of Arrogance and Accords: The Inside Story of the Honda Scandal.

[Images: © 2016 Steve Lynch/The Truth About Cars, cockpit photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz]

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161 Comments on “2016 Mercedes-Benz C300 Review – The Best Benz You Can Buy Today...”


  • avatar

    “This is finally one small Benz that everyone loves and for good reason. The C300 is a miniature S-Class.”

    It astounds me how “professional reviewers” on the internetz constantly put the C-class and other Mercedes products up against BMW or Audi (especially C&D).

    The Mercedes’ product (and I’ve leased two S-classes previously) is IN NO WAY designed to compete with BMW’s in anything more than sales figures. They are designed to DOMINATE BMW and AUDI in terms of “luxury” – a word that is highly subjective.

    The interior of the current C-class is nothing more than a miniature version of the W222’s and that, ultimately is exactly what many people want. Now that the E-class shares the W222’s interior as well, people who can’t afford an S-class or don’t need a car that huge, finally have options.

    Same Sausage – Different Lengths.

    The interior of the W221 was out of this world when I leased one during its initial launch whilst working at a Brokerage in Mineola. Everything about it was radically different.

    The new technology is awesome – but the execution of the W222 interior still manages to look and feel better than anything else that’s ever come before it.

    And now you’ve got a C-class that feels like $100,000.

    I wish Mercedes had a PHEV of the C-class and E-class right now. It would force Tesla to upgrade their interior materials.

    I do hate the “floating display – glued-on-tablet”.

    Mercedes did the smart thing by making the LCD displays integrated into the E-class dash.

    Why they didn’t do that here, I have no idea.

    The sweeping appearance of the center consoles is what makes this interior stand out.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Sort of. It echoes what I said below. Mercedes-Benz is defined by the S-Class. It is the standard of luxury, and it is what Mercedes-Benz does best. So it makes sense to model all of its other cars after the S-Class, and reconfigure that luxury into different-sized packages throughout the lineup.

      BMW, meanwhile, is defined by the 3-Series. So all of its cars try to be scaled up 3-Series’. I would argue that BMW is less successful at its mission than Mercedes-Benz is in its own. But that means that the 3-Series and the C-Class are two very different vehicles going after different people, although each appeals to me. Probably where Mercedes-Benz and BMW have the most overlap is in the mid-sized sedan arena. The current 5-Series and E-Class (both are set to be redesigned very very soon) are more alike than different, probably because BMW made the 5-Series more of an overweight vault than it had intended to.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Luxury can and never CAN be propelled by a 4 banger, no matter how advanced the manufacturer’s engineers think it is nor how much time and resources they spent on NVH.

        Steve admits as much (thanks for the honesty in review) here, when he speaks of the sometimes course nature of this motor, which has no place in any vehicle purporting to be a “luxury” vehicle.

        I realize that much of the commentariat will now “word assault” me, so I will go to my safe place, and shelter in place until these microagressions cease.

        But know that I am objectively correct on this subject, and f*ck you, Mercedes, for putting a 4 banger in this vehicle, let alone have the brass balls to put it into the upcoming E Class.

        Finit.

        • 0 avatar

          What he said. Beyond a certain price point, I want more than a four cylinder….I’m old enough that real cars had an 8, and the econo versions had a six. Today, my 3.6 six puts out more than most of the musclecar era engines, and clean to boot.

          Still, a four is something that goes in a FWD hatch. It can be very nice, put out big power, etc, but it doesn’t belong in a proper RWD car. Not at the 50K plus price point….

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          You, uh, do realize that Mercedes has been putting 4 cylinder engines in its cars since at least 1934 (the 140H), right?

          And that the modern E-class in the European market has *always* had a 4 cylinder option or two, right?

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            WE TRUE PURVEYORS OF LUXURY DON’T CARE WHAT MERCEDES HAS OR HASN’T DONE IN THE PAST.

            A “premium” vehicle (let alone a “luxury” one) needs, at bare minimum, a silky 6 cylinder, or better yet, a stout yet refined V8.

            We do not want nor care for ‘Mercedes Benz uses diesels and 4 cylinder motors in their euro taxis, etc.” historical trivia.

          • 0 avatar
            Ion

            I find it highly ironic that you (and a few other B&B) harp about about a V8 being the pinnacle of luxury and elegance in your day, yet you had no problem buying a modern day v6. CAFE is the undoing of large engines across all makes.

          • 0 avatar

            I do. Mercedes in Europe is a different company than here. The lack of E class taxis and the fact that Mercedes takes OFF the badge for the Sprinter. If you are selling me a luxury car, no four. Period. I don’t care if it is a M/B, a CT6, BMW, or what. For over 40k, spit up two more cylinders.

            I knew Chry-Benz was doomed when I saw a Football Game in Germany, and Chrysler was nowhere to be seen….the German team was now sponsored by Mercedes Benz Trucks….

          • 0 avatar
            bumpy ii

            “CAFE is the undoing of large engines across all makes.”

            Naah, I blame the rise in BMEP.

        • 0 avatar
          Jerome10

          Amen to this.

          I worry that at even 35 I’m clinging to “old world” ideas because I agree with this 100%. Maybe 1000%.

          I’m sorry if there is more HP and more torque and better FE and better emissions…a huge part of the luxury car experience is smoothness and power. And a 4cyl, no matter how good it is, just CANNOT match even a V6, much less a V8.

          I have driven many various luxury makes with 4 cyl turbos, and I’m sorry, but the I6 and V6s they replace are miles and miles better how they FEEL from behind the wheel.

          This goes also for those thinking turbo 6’s are a sufficient replacement for a V8. They aren’t.

          Maybe I’m stuck in get-off-my-lawn mode, but I hate this trend. And frankly if shopping, it gets really hard to think of spending extra money on a luxury brand when you get better motors for way less money in an Accord or Camry. Or a V8 in something like the Chrysler 300. And while those cars don’t have the image or interiors of this Mercedes, a dressed up pleb brand model can be quite luxurious.

          I’m afraid we’re probably stuck. Its too bad. It is a huge turn off to me and makes luxury makes much much less desirable than they used to be. If I’m gonna get blown 4s from everyone, why would I pay more for a luxury brand?

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            I’m with Jerome and everyone else who thinks a four cylinder is inappropriate in a luxury car. The engine used to be a differentiating factor between premium brands and volume sellers.Sure you could always get a V6 in Accords and Camries, but the FWD layout made it ridiculously nose heavy, and BMW at least would trump the V6 with an I6.

            Now everyone has a blown 4 that is similar on paper. Maybe the BMW and Benz variants of the blown 4 slightly outperform their performance and specs while getting better fuel economy than something like Ford’s 2.0T, but the difference isn’t dramatic. I still think premium brands keep an edge with the RWD layout, but the gap between them and volume sellers is closing fast.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          I meant to write “coarse nature,” and not “course nature.”

          I take pride in my spelling/grammar, and find that I am making way too many simple mistakes lately.

        • 0 avatar
          White Shadow

          My bro works for MB Corporate, so he always has the latest and greatest models. Honestly, they are nice cars overall, but they are certainly no better than new BMW or Audi models. And somehow MB still hasn’t figured out how to improve the ride quality of models with large (19″ & up) wheels. Last summer my bro had a new GL with 22″ wheels and it rode like crap on anything other than glass smooth roads. No thanks, MB.

        • 0 avatar
          White Shadow

          Luxury really has nothing to do with cylinder count in this day and age. You need to get with the times. Many of today’s 4s are as smooth and refined as the old V8 luxobarges and some even approach something like an inline 6. Besides, how else are they gonna get 34 mpg highway and decent performance in an ICE C-class with anything other than a turbo four? Like it or not, these are engines that will become even more increasingly common, at least until electric cars take over…

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            “Luxury really has nothing to do with cylinder count in this day and age.”

            Maybe next year Rolls-Royce will come out with a Silver Shadow powered by a 3-cyl twin-turbo GM Metro engine.

            (I’m kidding)

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “You need to get with the times.”

            Yea… I’m not going to be doing that.

            “how else are they gonna get 34 mpg highway and decent performance in an ICE C-class with anything other than a turbo four?”

            Not my job to figure that out. However, if they want my money, they’ll have to offer something I want. If they manage to sell enough turbo-4s without me then more power to them.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        I don’t think BMW knows what its brand mission is, at least philosophically. Practically, the brand mission is to pump up the volume by any means necessary- a dizzying array of models and niches dealers can’t even fully display, and funny money “pay it forward” transactions. BMW is a mess right now, and the overtaking of their benchmark by the Benz that’s always been a bit of a punchline is frighteningly reflective of that….

    • 0 avatar
      White Shadow

      My bro works for MB Corporate, so he always has the latest and greatest models. Honestly, they are nice cars overall, but they are certainly no better than new BMW or Audi models. And somehow MB still hasn’t figured out how to improve the ride quality of models with large (19″ & up) wheels. Last summer my bro had a new GL with 22″ wheels and it rode like crap on anything other than glass smooth roads. No thanks, MB.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    am I the only person on the planet who doesn’t get all b!tchy about auto stop/start?

    huh. who knew that an engine sitting there burning fuel but doing no useful work whatsoever is somehow a *good* thing.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      Running my A/C compressor on an 85 degree and humid eastern seaboard day while I’m sitting at a traffic light is God’s work.

      • 0 avatar
        jmo

        Manufactures are moving to electrically driven accessories as it’s both more efficient and more reliable than belts.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        Hard to complain about stop start in the winter but that blast of warm, sticky air you get at every traffic light when the AC compressor turns off is a conspicuous thumb in the eyeball right up there with the 1-4 shift lockout.

        Idling a dinky little motor like this one uses in the order of a quarter gallon per hour so don’t kid yourself that it’s even paying for itself let alone saving you money.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          I don’t mind the implementation of automatic stop/start in most cars. I’ve driven several, and the A/C never cuts off, nor do I get a bad shudder when the car starts moving again. But I do wonder if the cars were engineered to accommodate for the stress of all of those extra stop/start cycles.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            yes, the starter will have to be more robust, but the “workload” on it will not be a much higher as you might expect since an auto start doesn’t require as much cranking.

            see, when you’re starting the car “fresh” (i.e. you get in and turn the key/hit the button) the PCM is waking from a “cold” state, and therefore needs to see the engine crank through *at least* two full crankshaft revolutions before it will enable the fuel injectors. it needs to determine when cylinder #1 is at top-dead center (TDC) at the end of the compression stroke, and it needs to verify crankshaft/camshaft sync.

            on an auto start, the car stays on and the PCM is awake the entire time, and more or less “knows” the position of the crankshaft when the engine auto stops. therefore, it only needs to crank long enough for the next cylinder to fire.

          • 0 avatar
            Sigivald

            “But I do wonder if the cars were engineered to accommodate for the stress of all of those extra stop/start cycles.”

            I remember looking it up a while back, and the answer is “yes”.

            (At least by now; initial systems might have been less robust.)

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      In theory, it’s a great idea. In practice I don’t need the shudder of vibration every time I set off from a stop sign or traffic light. Makes the whole experience seem absurdly cheap and nasty.

      • 0 avatar
        madman2k

        I agree, it’s nice in theory and if I have the windows down because it’s nice out, I like the engine to turn off instead of wasting gas.

        But I think it should automatically be disabled if the A/C is running.

        In my truck, it isn’t, but it’s disabled if you plug something in the 110 outlet. Maybe I should just leave something plugged in there, lol.

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          I understand the sentiment.

          But thanks to the gph fuel economy meter in my Volvo (it shows mpg when moving, gph when stopped), I know that even its relatively thirsty 3L turbo six uses about a third of a gallon per hour at idle.

          Call it 1.25 liters for easy math.

          That’s 20ml of fuel per minute at idle; 2/3 of an ounce.

          Or about half a percent of a gallon if my math is right.

          So … about $.0125 at my local fuel prices.

          I just can’t make myself care.

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle

        That’s an implementation problem.
        The latest versions I’ve tried have been practically seamless, to the point where you don’t notice them if the radio is turned on.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        It depends on the implementation. BMW’s implementation stinks, unless they’ve improved it. Ford’s is barely perceptible.

        • 0 avatar

          True. I suffered it in a bmw rental car while traveling, but shutting it off was easy.

        • 0 avatar
          darex

          In my 3rd Gen (F56) manual MINI Cooper, the ASS is so bad, that not only is it jarring, but it causes stalling upon acceleration so often, that it’s dangerous/scary. Fortunately, it can be turned off, and it stays off between drives. So, based on this implementation, I have to agree, BMW’s ASS is terrible! I have read it is just as bad in the 3-series.

        • 0 avatar
          SP

          I drove a 2016 328i, and the stop-start did have some rough edges. If you are actually stopped at a light, it’s fine. There are some times, however, when the car hesitates starting back up. If you expect the car to move and it’s not moving, that can be a problem.

          If you need to pull out into traffic, I would advise turning it off.

          So I guess I would say it’s a good idea, it just still needs a little development.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      It sounds like garbage going on and off at lights all the time (I’ve heard various BMWs do it, as well as an ML I think), and I’m pretty pretty sure it’s going to wear the engine out. How could such cycles not do damage over time?

    • 0 avatar
      Carfan94

      I disagree, It’s a Luxury car not an economy car. Luxury car buyers usually don’t care about fuel economy, They care about smoothness, and refinement. There is nothing refined or smooth about a 4 cylinder engine constantly shuttering on and off in stop and go traffic. If you want a vehicle that doesn’t waste gas sitting still buy a Hybrid. I actually like Hybrids they do a much better of keeping the engine off than the start/stop systems, Which are a rather half assed compromise in my opinion.

      • 0 avatar
        IHateCars

        “It’s a Luxury car not an economy car. Luxury car buyers usually don’t care about fuel economy, They care about smoothness, and refinement.”

        I’ll see your disagree and raise you one. I think “luxury” buyers in this segment very much care about FE. In the $150 K and above true luxury car segment, probably not.

        • 0 avatar
          Carfan94

          @IHateCars

          I knew somebody would get me on that. I don’t think it’s a top priority in a luxury car buyers shopping list. I don’t think a start/stop system is worth the minimal benefit in fuel economy. I think Luxury Hybrids however are, and they do a much better job of shutting the engine off during coasting, low speed EV mode, and seamlessly starting it back up when appropriate.

        • 0 avatar
          Napoli

          I have a 2016 C300 4Matic and my wife has a 2013 Infiniti G37X. The C300 kicks back on if you are stopped at a light, have the AC on, and it can’t keep the air at whatever temperature you have it set to. My fuel economy probably drops by about 10% if I don’t use the start-stop system so I keep it on all the time. The only issue I have with the system is that the car seems to jerk sometimes when the engine starts back up.

          In regards to having a four banger in a luxury car, I would never trade the 4 cylinder in the C300 for the engine that is in the G37. The G37 has a great engine but the fuel economy is utter shit. And if you care so much about the engine being only four cylinders, then get the C450.

    • 0 avatar
      jacob_coulter

      The auto stop is just completely unfitting for a luxury car, and I would love to see back to back savings because I bet for most owners you’re talking something like 75 cents a month.

      A small thing like this can ruin the driving experience. It did for me.

      If I wanted a hybrid, I would buy a hybrid.

  • avatar
    jmo

    How does the ride compare to that of its rivals? Did you test drive one equipped with air suspension.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Lynch

      You would be hard pressed to ever find an AIRMATIC C-Class, none in stock today at biggest Benz dealer in US.

      In base or luxury with the the 17″ wheels, Benz has better ride than BMW, in this Sport Package model it is a wash.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        I like the new D, because the interior is well-made, the exterior is tastefully and restrained in styling, and it has adequate interior room, interior quiet, and etc. for its class.

        However, a 4 cylinder is never going to be adequately refined for a real premium, let alone luxury car, so we disagree there, and the ride, even for Mercedes-Benz’s smallest sedan, should ride like velvet.

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          The W116 and W126 I5 diesels would beg to differ with you on the floor of refinement for a “real premium, let alone luxury” car’s engine.

          • 0 avatar
            Sigivald

            (Now, let me add that I am willing to believe that *this* I4 might be rougher than a modern $40k car I4 should be; that would be perfectly valid as a sore spot.

            But that’s not the same complaint as “no I4 can be adequate”.)

        • 0 avatar
          S2k Chris

          “I like the new D”

          This about the C-class, or are you subliminally desiring the D?

  • avatar
    sirwired

    This car isn’t my cuppa tea, but thank you for the call-out on the needlessly-obscure practice (here and elsewhere) of referring to cars solely by their internal model code. I mentioned this a couple of times, got positive feedback from article authors, who promptly put the awkward non-model-code versions in a couple subsequent articles (either because they somehow thought something like “early 80’s to early 90’s 3-series” was just not specific enough to be used as a substitute for E30, or they wanted to “prove” that not using the model code was a bad idea.)

    And why is this practice mostly confined to articles about BMW’s MB’s, Porche’s and old Toyotas? All automakers use model codes to some extent internally (because they totally make sense for technical-types), but websites never call, say, the current Camry by it’s code, the XV50 or refer to the RX350 as the GGL2.

    Yes, the answer as to what a “W116” or a “932” is is a Google away, but why use it at all?

    • 0 avatar
      energetik9

      Just a counter argument, I don’t mind the language at all. I am well versed in BMW and Porsche model designators and when I hear 997.2 or E92, that means something to me.

      The author is fully descriptive of the advertised model name, so I wouldn’t see that as complicated, even for someone not familiar with all the MB model codes (and I’m talking about me).

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        I *do* mind it, because it’s usually smug BMW owners faffing on about their “E” this or “N” that, and feigning surprise when they encounter someone who doesn’t immediately know what they’re talking about. I had some a**hole on Jalopnik accuse me of not being a real enthusiast because I didn’t know what BMW he was referring to when he said “E-number.”

      • 0 avatar
        sirwired

        Not everybody that reads an article mentioning a German car is versed with the model codes. Just because YOU have memorized these things does not mean that the entire (or even most) of the intended audience of the article is.

        And yes, Steve did a good job here. I’m talking about the other TTAC writers who toss in MB and Porsche model codes ALL. THE. TIME., even in articles not primarily about said cars.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          I’m less annoyed with BMW chassis codes—since I have memorized them or can look them up quickly—than I am with the way that auto-journalists use those chassis codes to make irrelevant and disingenuous comparisons. A Honda Pilot is not an E39 5-Series, and it will never dance like one. Stop holding cars to ridiculous standards that even BMW doesn’t meet anymore.

        • 0 avatar
          energetik9

          OK, for clarity here. Not trying to be smug or cause any friction with anyone. I simply stated I liked the reference in an article. I only know some model designators and I have no intention on reminding others that I do. To me it is simply a reference point and I find it interesting.

          The author only mentions the code in 1 single sentence and everywhere else calls it the C300. I think that is a reasonable balance. There was no intention to create any tension.

        • 0 avatar
          akatsuki

          I wish they all did – since it make it easier to distinguish models. But I sort of wish that the internal numbers followed the external ones a bit.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I’m just lazy.

      Writing “LN3” is just faster than typing “Buick 3.8L V6 built from 1988-1991”.

      If we were having an actual conversation I wouldn’t use codes.

    • 0 avatar
      Blue-S

      Well of course the sales execs didn’t use internal model codes in daily conversation. The sales organization is mostly concerned about selling this year’s model, planning for next year’s model and (God forbid) clearing out last year’s leftover model. I worked for 18 years in the service organizations of two different automakers (not M-B), and we typically used model codes in conversation in order to distinguish one generation of a car from another. I’d suspect that the same was true at M-B’s service and technical organization as well.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      As a car enthusiast, if you don’t know what a chassis code is, either you don’t care enough to look it up or you do. It’s unambiguous, versus things like “1994 911.” Well, which one? That could be a 964 or a 993, depending on market, timing, etc. Do I necessarily remember when the E36 replaced the E30? No, but I know exactly what an author means if he says “E30” instead of “1991 3-series”. I’ll admit, I’m not well versed in chassis codes outside of Porsche and BMW, but if I don’t know, I can find out easily. I don’t expect others to cater to my ignorance and laziness.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        The point is to make the article/review more accessible and appealing beyond enthusiast circles. I don’t get why people can’t see this.

        • 0 avatar
          PeriSoft

          “The point is to make the article/review more accessible and appealing beyond enthusiast circles. I don’t get why people can’t see this.”

          Oh, they can see it. And it’s precisely what they want to avoid. How can you be better than someone else if you don’t rub your special knowledge in their face? How can you belong to an elite group when it’s accessible to all?

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            But it’s just car reviews. We’re not talking secret bourbon aging methods, the Masons, or scientific discovery here.

      • 0 avatar
        sirwired

        Often times the article doesn’t even mention what BRAND of car it is, much less any other relevant information about it, and you can only guess from the fact that it’s on a car website that it refers to a car at all.

        You have not, at any point, ever, been able to purchase a “W116” or “E36” or “993”. You bought a ’76 MB 280 or a ’92 BMW 316i or a ’94 Porsche 911. If the author wants to SUPPLEMENT basic information on the car (like a year, make, and model) with the platform code, I got no beef with that, but it’s silly to refer to the car in it’s entirety by a chassis code with no hint whatsoever as to what sort of car it refers to.

        It’s not “laziness” to not want to have to keep Google handy to understand WTF a general-interest article on a website is talking about. And it’s not “catering to ignorance” to not expect readers to have memorized German chassis codes. (And why are readers not expected to have memorized anybody else’s chassis codes? Why is this practice not used for US cars?)

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          “Why is this practice not used for US cars?”

          It is often done with American vehicles too. You’ve never seen reference to a “W-body” or “LX car”? Use of engine designations are common as well. “LS1”, “LT4”, “LFX”, “Coyote”.

      • 0 avatar
        yamahog

        +1.

        It’s nice to be able to say AP1 instead of ‘the s2000 with the 9k redline and oh by the way was is 2003 or 2004 when the refreshed it?’

        Or using the engine code F20c so you know I’m talking about the 9k redline, I don’t have to say 2000-2004 US S2000 or 2000-2010 European / JDM S2000.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        Exactly. And to expand on this, I’m not trying to be smug or rub anyone’s face in ‘special knowledge’. It’s easier for me and more specifically identifies the car; that’s it. Don’t take it personally.

        If you can’t be bothered to take two seconds to find out what it means, don’t worry – the conversation probably still makes sense without picturing the exact car. This is generally what I do when people use chassis codes I’m not familiar with. The context is good enough.

        Besides, if E30 or E36 have no meaning, I don’t think 1991 or 1992 3-series would either.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      The platform codes are a useful shorthand, since names and model years don’t always line up in all markets, and a previous-gen car can be continued for a year or five alongside its replacement.

      • 0 avatar
        duffman13

        VW/Audi has been fairly notorious for this, letting the new generations get a model year or 2 in Europe before bringing them stateside. The new Golf is a poster child for the practice.

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      At least Mercedes had several platforms to refer to. In the eighties and early nineties, practically all Chrysler vehicles could have been referred to as “K”.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      It should be tailored to the audience or footnoted, yes.

      (Note I don’t know BMW codes, so I had to look it up.

      But “E30” tells you “1982-1991”. “Early 90s”, however, could just as easily be an E36 (1992+).

      It’s ambiguous, in a way “E30” isn’t.

      This is even more relevant for other segments or more modern cases where the bodies last five years, not ten.

      [Note also the Jeep people doing the same thing and nobody seems to care; XJ, YJ, JK, all meaningful to the people using them…])

  • avatar
    threeer

    Re-read that line…”Alabama-built C-Class.” What is this world coming to? Buicks made in China, but I can buy a “German” Benz built right down the road from me.

    I always thought the 190E in 2.6 guise was a good car. The new CLA is an affront to all that is good (or could be good) with M-B. Yes, I know that in the rest of the world, Benz runs the gamut between plebian work-car and ueber-luxury. But even having said that, my time in a CLA was just not all that inspiring. I’d rather save up and wait for a C-class (even one made in Bama…Roll Tide…sheesh).

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Well, yeah, but Mercedes-Benz has had that Alabama factory for years, churning out M/GLE-Class, GL/GLS-Class and R-Class SUVs. So it’s nothing new.

      I guess it’s a bit of a shock because, unlike the garish SUVs, the C-Class is a profoundly German vehicle…solid, powerful, well-built…but compact. But, in my mind, a luxury automaker can build its cars wherever it wants, but it should build its pinnacle car, the car that defines it, in its home country. That car is not the C-Class for Mercedes-Benz, but rather the S-Class. It’s a matter of pride. The S-Class should always be made in Germany. The C-Class can get in where it fits in. BMW, on the other hand, is defined by the 3-Series….so that should be built in Germany (although the other day I saw one in the showroom that was assembled in South Africa).

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        The C-Class is still a bit too small for my tastes, even if it is awesome. And the current styling, while eh-okay on the S-Class looks very squatting dog on the C. For the rear end alone, I’d avoid it.

      • 0 avatar
        onyxtape

        I’m not sure building the flagship in its home country has that much meaning anymore.

        German makes (BMW comes to mind) often use low-wage temp workers from Eastern Europe and the Middle East living in Germany. Name-brand Italian fashions are mostly made by Chinese migrant labor living in Italy. It’s all in the manufacturing process whether labor skill factors into the quality of the end product. Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn’t.

        The days of the industrious German (or Italian) craftsmen hand-making anything is mostly mythical. It’s warm and fuzzy to incorporate a quasi-racial component to projecting expected quality based on the country of manufacture (see people who swear by Made in Japan cars sourced for Japanese makes), but the evidence often points to the contrary – last I looked the South African-sourced 3-series has a (slightly) lower defect rate than the German-made ones.

      • 0 avatar

        The trucks sell here, so it makes sense to make them here. Saves a LOT of shipping.

        While in Germany, in two weeks of driving, saw a few X3, one X5, one (!) Q7. Most folks can’t feed, or store a truck like those in Germany. They make them for this market. Likewise, that is why they sell four banger 5, 7 and E class cars…at $10 per gallon….but we don’t have to make that choice.

  • avatar
    Tomifobia

    “Fake leather.” Why is everyone afraid to call it by its real name: vinyl?

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      How many Naughas had to die for that hide?

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      because it may or may not be. “Vinyl” in common usage nearly always means flexible polyvinyl chloride (PVC.) depending on the actual type, “fake” leather may use PVC (leatherette) or a blend of polyesters/urethanes (Alcantara.)

      • 0 avatar
        Tomifobia

        There’s a big difference in feel and appearance between “leatherette” and Alcantara.

        Why doesn’t anyone offer a nice goddamned cloth upholstery anymore?

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          I know, since Alcantara is used to simulate suede.

          “Why doesn’t anyone offer a nice goddamned cloth upholstery anymore?”

          that’s what I want to know. One of the things I hated about my Mustang was the leather seats. I’d much rather have *nice* cloth seats in a mid-upper trim level. But no, it’s either take a base car with seats covered in garbage sackcloth, or we shove leather down your throat in a higher trim car.

          • 0 avatar
            Tomifobia

            Down my throat isn’t the problem: it’s up my sweaty backside on an August afternoon.

          • 0 avatar

            BMW will do this if you know to ask. You’ll have to educate the dealer, and know the code for the interior from a euro web source. The BMW cloth seats must be made out of space suit materials…damn near indestructible. I have 13 years of NO GARAGE and full time family use, and other than a little bit of gloss on the driver’s seat, almost perfect. I do use window shades in the summer, but that’s it.

            In August, leather is hot, in winter, cold. It is probably very cheap at OE

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Cooled seats fix sweaty back!

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Cadillac has fake leather, vinyl that really feels, looks and smells like vinyl.

            They nailed it!

    • 0 avatar
      hf_auto

      They don’t call MB-Tex vinyl because it’s polyurethane…

      I used to be an automotive seat engineer and my preference in materials, from worst to best, was: vinyl > cloth > leather (assuming a decent leather) > polyurethane. The polyurethane can be softer and more supple than leather yet can outlast leather by an order of magnitude. FWIW, I specifically sought out MB-Tex cars when I bought my MB.

      PU is about the same price as leather on a per-square-yard basis but ends up being slightly cheaper to build a seat since you can use all of your material, unlike those pesky cow-shaped leather hides.

      • 0 avatar
        jacob_coulter

        MB-Tex is fantastic stuff, I would honestly rather have it than genuine leather, especially if you plan on keeping a car for a while. The stuff can look like new forever.

        I never really understood why most car makers basically went to either cloth or leather as the only two choices and stopped using vinyl/polyurethane.

        Did anyone actually like that mouse-fur cloth finish the Big 3 were using? Why not just stick vinyl in there.

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          I’d tend to agree.

          In my old, trashed 300D the MB-Tex was in glorious condition, torn only where the underlying padding had completely failed and allowed extreme stress on it, and perhaps a wee bit brittle from over 30 years of the elements.

          I would expect leather of that vintage and same treatment to be simply destroyed.

          (My Volvo has leather, because used and not a lot of options, but if I’d had magic powers to pick, I might well have chosen poly.)

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          vinyl hardens, shrinks, and cracks as it ages, since the plasticizer solvents (the things which keep it soft and flexible) eventually gas out.

  • avatar
    energetik9

    “Mercedes-Benz introduced the latest version of the C-Class two years ago and it’s now the brand’s best-selling model in America by a large margin — not to mention handily outselling its top competitor, the BMW 3 Series.”

    This doesn’t seem right. I just looked up sales data on good car bad car and the BMW 3 outsold the MB C class in 2015, just as it has for years. If you combine 3/4, BMW handedly outsold the C class (2015). The 3/4 also is outselling the C class 2016 YTD. I’ve always seen the BMW 3/4 grouped in this category, but even if you strip out the 4, the 3-series is only a few thousand in sales less than the C-class YTD which is basically a wash at the 6 month mark of the year.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Agree completely with this review – if I were buying a Benz (oh, happy day), it’d be the C-class. Best interior in its’ class…and possibly one of the best interiors you can buy in any class. And I’m in agreement on the hood ornament too – I miss it on this model.

    And fully agreed on the 190E – my dad owned one and it was disappointing as hell. It had all the usual circa-1985 Benz qualities – solid structure and build, excellent on the road, etc – but it was dinky and slow, and the back seat was borderline unusable. The 2.6 was an improvement, but Steve’s right – an Accord was a far better car.

  • avatar
    ajla

    For people interested in this type of car it seems like a good option.

  • avatar
    nguyenvuminh

    “…I never once heard them call a vehicle by its internal name. Referring to cars as E39s and W116s is strictly snooty enthusiast slang. Get a group of them together and you would think they were talking about Bingo…” – Pulitzer Prize material here :-)

  • avatar
    energetik9

    “The little Mercedes was a turd: terribly unreliable, cramped and slow. Much to our delight, the media said the 190E was not worth twice the price of an Accord.”

    I was never much of a fan of this car either. A friend of mine had a used on in college and loved it and I rode in it many times. I don’t remember it being any better or worse than the Accord, but that is just anecdotal experience. I never owned either from that period.

    However…I was always in love with the 190E 2.5 16V, but the BMW M3 was still the pinnacle.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I had made a similar comment on Jalopnik, but I’ll say it here too:

    The next-highest model currently available on the C-Class is the C400, not the C350. The C400’s chief upgrade over the C300 is the swap of the 2.0-liter turbo I4 with a 3.0-liter bi-turbo V6. The C400 is indeed getting replaced with the Mercedes-AMG C43 that you mention. But the C43 isn’t just an AMG in name; it has some notable braking, tuning and suspension upgrades that really do make it a half-AMG, in addition to the 3.0-liter bi-turbo V6. I’m sure some people will actually miss the C400, though, because the C43’s tradeoff is that it is quite harsh during normal driving. And some people do just want a larger engine, without all of the track-oriented bits.

    BMW is doing the same thing with some of its cars, replacing the largest-engined non-M versions with cars that not only have those upgraded engines, but also lots of proper M parts and engineering. The M235i is one example of this, because you get a lot more than just the bigger 3.0-liter turbo I6. The X4 M40i is another example, and I think the V12 version of the new 7-Series is now the M760Li.

    This is really what Audi has been doing all along. The S cars have always given customers bigger and more-powerful drivetrains than their A counterparts, but they also come with a host of performance upgrades so that they are special edition performance variants in their own right.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Lynch

      The C400 became the C450 this year not the C350, we will make correction, another good catch by Kyree…

    • 0 avatar
      Macca

      I was hoping to make the C450 AMG my next ride, but I’m not sure that I’ll be making that move till next year, when apparently it’ll be phased out.

      Sad to hear that the C43 has a particularly harsh ride. I just have an aversion to the idea of a I4 in a ~$50k car, but I’d also like to have a fairly composed ride in what will be my daily driver.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        As someone who is concerned about fuel economy, it seems to me like my best option would be the C350e plug-in hybrid.

      • 0 avatar
        319583076

        Me too. I have configured several and spoke with our local dealer about ordering one – but I’m planning to drive my ’14 C350 for another 3 to 4 years. I’ll have to wait and see what’s available then.

        I had a ’16 C300 loaner for a day while my car was in for scheduled maintenance and it was a really, really nice car. I was impressed with the engine operation, overall performance, and the interior. I agree that the screen on the dashboard is easier to live with in person that it would appear from photos.

        I’m aware of the sentiment about the CLA/GLA, but they really aren’t terrible cars. The C-Class is fantastic and there’s probably an E-Class in my future. Mercedes makes great cars.

        While I’m gushing, I’ll also note that my sales and service experience has been head and shoulders above any other dealership.

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        I wonder if there will be a Maybach version. They just announced a Maybach E-Class

      • 0 avatar
        derekson

        The C450 and C43 are the same car other than the updated transmission (9 speed now in place of 7 speed) and perhaps a new exhaust system (not sure if this is standard or an option). AFAIK the suspension tuning is the same.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    Much prefer the styling of an 08 or 09 ish C-Class.

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      Cant edit, just wanted to add, “But I’m stuck in the past”.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      That design has started to grow on me, although this new one is better. But the one thing I do not like about the early W204 C-Class is the wing mirror design. The way the side indicator is integrated, it looks like a giant sore.

      http://images.hgmsites.net/lrg/2008-mercedes-benz-c-class-4-door-sedan-3-5l-sport-rwd-mirror_100262480_l.jpg

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        The thing that bothers me about this current gen is how upright, almost forward leaning the grill is. The older gens had it slightly swept back and I prefer it.

        Also, I think the cabin is just a mess. The tacked on looking screen, bug-eyed vents, dont appeal.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I agree on the current sloppy interior look. While the materials might be grand, the overall appearance of them is mish-mash. Prior generation MB vehicles had the upright, organized center stack which was much more desirable.

          “Funky” type details like the current C’s interior age poorly as well. In 5-7 years, it will look like an oval Taurus in there.

          Meanwhile, Lexus is doing the streamlined (80s stereo), horizontal lines approach, and that’s going to age much better while looking much more cohesive.

          http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-TAbyNeMySmM/VmST65rGUdI/AAAAAAAAA0g/JYlAzFHTJOo/s640/2016%2BLexus%2BIS350%2BFSPORT%2Binterior.jpg

        • 0 avatar
          Nick_515

          I am with you. Can’t like this one. Last gen, post-refresh (2011-14), with the right tires, the right package (whatever it is that has the cool aluminum spoke steering wheel) is one of the cars that wears white wonderfully. plus v6. transmission not fantastic but not unreliable. I’d get that for me.

        • 0 avatar
          319583076

          I had a negative reaction to photos of the cabin as well, but if you sit in the thing or better yet, drive it, it’s a completely different experience. The new interior is as good or better than the old.

  • avatar
    Coolcar2

    Steve I applaud you for your purchase and find the new C class very attractive with the right wheel package. I too have been interested in buying one because of its appearance both inside and out, but after researching the cars reliability it scared me away from making that jump into my first MB experience. I realize this vehicle or any MB will not be Camry reliable, but just read some of the comments from current owners on Edmunds. It is startling to read how unhappy owners are with these vehicles and when you compare the comments to the 3 series owners there are definitely some major teething problems that need to be resolved with the C class. Please continue to post about your ownership experience. An honest account will be beneficial to those of us considering this model!

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      The Castrol class issues are generally minor in comparison to the 3 series. I think BMW people tend to accept the problems more. The jury is still out on the turbo 4 vs. the old V6.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    By far the biggest improvement to the C-Class is the CLA. Little C is no longer the bottom-feeder of the lineup. The outgoing one wasn’t bad, but it was an afterthought to upsell people to the (excellent) E-Class or SUVs.

  • avatar

    The CLA is trash for badge whores. I saw an AMG version with matte paint for the price of many superior cars. Really ? You coulda had fifteen other cars, way more worthy, but you came away with that ???

    The C can now be nice, a Mercedes for those who don’t need a five passenger barge, and is now free of the pressure to be the loss leader. They can make a small S class, and not resort to BMW games $29,995 !…oh, you wanted seat heaters ? That’s a mandatory leather seat upgrade….$3500….

    I like the current C. It doesn’t meet any of my current needs, but you can get a nice small luxury car, MB can charge for it, and you won’t see yourself coming and going in crappy neighborhoods.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      I can’s make the case for a run of the mill CLA, but I can for the AMG. It says “I want an Evo, but fancy. And I’m willing to pay for it.

  • avatar
    akatsuki

    So who has better interiors now? Volvo or MB? I think it looks like a toss up. Lexus has always had high quality interiors, but the interior styling is mediocre on my GS350 – the LC looks ridiculously nice.

    The CLA is kind of attractive and trashy at the same time. Mediocre car, but it let the C-class move upscale. I expect that it will improve in subsequent generations to at least match the GTI/A3 twins in capability.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      For my money…Cadillac ATS. And I’ll back the thousands saved.

      Why the the italized disclaimer saying retiree lease? Part of your golden parachute from MBoA?

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        The C-Class has a way better interior than the ATS. Plus, the ATS isn’t big enough inside to compete with the C-Class. Size wise it’s more of a CLA/A3 competitor. I can fit a car seat in the C-Class but not in the ATS. It’s easier to get my kid in a Mustang then the ATS.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          Norm is contractually obligated to sing the praises of GM products. Between its

          – abysmal infotainment controls
          – bland looks
          – 1994 Grand Prix gauge cluster
          – previous gen Malibu back seat
          – auto only top engine configuration
          – name brand pricing for store brand product conundrum

          it’s no wonder ATS sales have tanked out of the gate. A warmed over Malibu with good looks, a logical classy feeling interior and possibly a PHEV powertrain would have worked much better.

      • 0 avatar

        You have to evaluate the ATS and CTS as used cars. At the 20k price point, you can get a lightly used version.

        Now, when comparing at that price, things are quite a bit different. I’d not have paid the 50k price for my CTS, but at under 20k ? Bargain. Disaster for Caddy, but great for buyers.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        The new C Class, in any form, literally makes the Cadillac ATS feel like some plasticky, cheap, counterfeit knock-off brand of some actual premium vehicle (or makes the ATS feel Pontiac level in terms of interior materials, exterior build quality, NVH, reliability, etc., which it is).

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      Personally I prefer the new generation Audi interiors (as seen in the 2017 A4 and Q7). I would put the new Volvos second, and Merc a close third. I don’t like the big consoles and the excessive number of textures and materials in the Merc. I don’t think it will age as well as the more modern and minimalist designs in the Audis and Volvos.

  • avatar
    maxxcool7421

    I am 5’10 … I sat in the backsteat of one and banged my head 3 times when the driver hit speed bumps of avg height at 10mph. abysmal materials. Abysmal GIANT TABLET. Very poor seating in the back. I mean jesus, my g35 has more head room in the back.

  • avatar
    Wunsch

    I took one of these for a test drive, and yes, much of it is impressive – especially the interior. I was also surprised at how much the 4Matic car felt like it was RWD (so much so that I had to check for the badge). However, there were three things that made me cross it off my list:

    – As this review mentions in passing, the engine occasionally sounds coarse. In fact, I found it almost always sounded very coarse. (And I like four cylinders. I currently drive a four-cylinder Audi, and I am getting a four-cylinder BMW to replace it.)
    – The 7-speed transmission is terrible, at least compared to the 8-speed ZF units that both Audi and BMW use. The shifts are not smooth at all.
    – Heated rear seats are not available. Period. Not even an option I can custom order.

    Between the engine and the transmission, the C300 completely failed at feeling luxurious to me. That’s supposed to be the part that Mercedes does better than Audi or BMW, but it’s the reason I took the C300 off my list.

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      For my money, the Audi 4 cylinder is more refined than the MB or BMW ones (or especially the GM one used in the Caddys). Not that I have the money to spare for any of these cars, but if Idid and was looking at a 4 cylinder I’d probably go with one of the Audi models. Once you step up to six cylinder models it becomes a much tougher choice IMO.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    The “cheap Android tablet stuck to the dash” thing turned me off from buying a Mazda3. Not that I’m in the market for this car, but the same design feature looks even more cheap and afterthought-y in a Mercedes.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Wonder how many cars with these types of displays have been broken-into by some ne’er-do-well thinking that the screen really WAS an actual tablet, there for the taking?

  • avatar
    Fred

    Even over 2 years ago when I looked at the new CLA the old 300 was a lot nicer and it was only $1000 more.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    BMW’s benchmark beaten by former Benz also-ran punchline……..

    Someone mentioned a few refinement niggles like the transmission and engine. Fair points, but that will probably all go away with the 9Gtronic. From looks, at least, this thing makes a 3 series and the rest of the competition look like mainstreamers. Aside from the engine/transmission, MB has absolutely nailed all the things that matter to this segment. They’ve become an aspirational brand again and this thing is a reflection of that.

  • avatar
    BiturboS4

    Does 8.4 inches refer to the size of the display housing or to the actual display? Those are the biggest bezels I’ve seen in a while.

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    The clock is way, way too low to read sanely while driving.

    Which tells me it’s not meant to be used (which makes sense, I guess, given there are two separate screens to read a time from), and just there “Because A Mercedes Should Have A Clock Because Reasons”.

    (I am deeply unsure about all the chrome/metal in the interior, for glare reasons. Hopefully less an issue than in, say, the previous gen. GLK.)

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    The “eco” switch that you have to turn off every time is an annoyance that will likely mean I never buy a Mercedes again.

    Why not allow the owner to simply have the choice but allow it to be shut off for good instead of EVERY trip?

    It’s not like there’s a law requiring Mercedes to make this nanny feature. If the user is allowed to defeat it once, why not make it permanent?

  • avatar
    Waaghals

    What I don’t understand is:

    If you already have a car, and no one has a properly specced replacement car on the lot, why don’t you just order one to spec?

    While the car in the article is VERY NICE, at that price range I would probably have gone for one with the color/equipment/styling combo of my choice.

    Again, I can’t afford one, but if I could….

    • 0 avatar
      seth1065

      I think Steve lives in AZ so he likes white for the heat aspect, This car is on my short list for my next car but I gotta say that iPad glued on likes very tacky.

      • 0 avatar
        Waaghals

        Oh, I’m not criticizing his color choice, but he mentioned wanting a star on the hood, and not finding a car such equipped in stock.

        So my question was, why not order one from the factory?

        Having been in and driven a C-class on several occasions, The “iPad” isn’t an issue.

        It is not a very elegant design choice, but it is far less obtrusive in real life.

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          How well is it anchored to the dash? It looks like it’ll be a rattle-prone POS come the 50,000-mile mark.

          • 0 avatar
            Waaghals

            I haven’t been pulling it hard or anything, but it does not shake, yield or move if you touch it. Feels solid.

            As for how it will behave after 50,000 miles?
            I have no idea, the guy who owns it changes cars after the 40-60,000km-mark.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    the choice of 18- or 19-inch wheels plus a “Sport Tuned Suspension.”

    Hey Mark, any way to get a track test out of Jack of the same car with and without the oversized wheels? Maybe we can start the correction by informing the small but influential segment of the market called the B&B? I can dream anyway. Stupid “no profile”tm tires, ruining cars for decades, driving sales to CUV’s to get a sidewall. I blame RIMZ.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    Hi Steve, thanks for the review of your ride. This is the Benz that comes closest to interesting me. Love the drive you took, the coast between SF and Seattle is my favorite drive. Properly planned with a top tier brewery at every overnight location and lots of time for beach / view stops… I suppose Hawaii has the same level of scenic drives with the additional benefit of water warm enough to not try to kill you just by being in it, but I can’t drive there from here.

  • avatar
    jdmcomp

    I found the inability to shut off the start/stop a real pain. No, I just do not want to remember every time I start the car. I want choice like BMW gives. The 4 is a bit rough at slow speeds and idle, and of course, starting. No better then my wife’s Kia Optima or for that matter, almost any of the DI/Turbo 2L engines I have driven. Performance was ok, nothing to get excited about but never really lacking.
    Now the dash is almost a deal breaker. Ugly, and still ugly. I hate that now that I got used to the turn indicator and speed control being reversed (C300 Sport from last vintage), they reversed them again. Not crazy about the transmission selector, real 1950s style. The IPod stuck on the dash is very odd and appears to be just put there so you will notice that it is bigger then the BMWs. Yep, mines bigger they yours. I do think they could and should have done better with the dash.

  • avatar
    Frylock350

    Sat in MB products at the auto show, still looks like they glued a Chinese knockoff ipad with gigantic bezels to the dash.

  • avatar
    mccall52

    Good evening Mr. Lynch, just started reading your book about Honda in the 1980s, then I read the first sentence in your article, and notice it’s the same author. Good reading so far, I appreciate it.

  • avatar
    TybeeJim

    I’ve owned a bunch of Benzes starting with a ’92 S400 followed by an SLK, ML430, CLK430, G500 and ending with a near new ’06 CLS 500 in my garage now. Notwithstanding a very nice interior and dash, the ’16 C300 is a turd compared to the ’17 Audi A4. It cost more, has less power and poor tech features to boot. at a comparable price the Audi beats it in almost every category save snob appeal. The Audi has Quattro, leather, 4G, the new Virtual Cockpit, etc. TTAC would do well to get their hands on one and compare.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    I loved the W204 (last gen) C-Class, and I’ve been largely impressed with what I’ve seen of this generation (because I’m a borderline stereotypical enthusiast, I’m very excited they’re sending the wagon over). Just, why is it so hard to get a C-Class without the flaring nostrils bumper? I can’t imagine it serves any real functional need, and doesn’t exactly suit the personality of the thing.

  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    I am more of an E Class wagon kinda guy. I have never liked the C class and even though the interior is nice it does nothing to change that. The styling mimics the S class and just looks to abbreviated for me.

  • avatar
    pipedown

    Rented a 2015 C300 4MATIC a few weeks ago and drove around Sonoma and Mendocino counties for 4 days. My review is pretty much inline with this review exact I would be much more harsh on the engine. On-tap power aside (which was decent), the engine does not feel like it belongs in a luxury car, period.

    My SO loved the car and would like one, including the floating ipad thing (which to repeat, has too many clicks to do basic things). If that’s an option, personally I’d skip it. I’d probably ask for a bit more variability between sport+ and luxury and if anything, probably float it a little more on the luxury side … for those times I am driving with said SO.

    This rental also had the Burmester sound system which I did not use extensively, but being a bit of an music enthusiast, didn’t really move me enough to think it would justify its name. Take that with a grain of salt though as I’m from the flea-powered tube amp / high efficiency audio camp.

    Dialing up Sport+ mode for Route 20 out of Willits to the coast was a particularly nice drive for this car with my SO in it. The turbo mill provided good low-down torque to squirt around slower moving vehicles w/o a lot of drama (read: screaming rpm engine noise). Additionally, coddling said SO through the twisties at a fast pace but again minimizing drama (think: keeping tire squeal to a minimum, smooth weight transfer .. but at a pace faster than pretty much anything else I saw that day) was very enjoyable. Nothing about the steering feedback jumped out at me as being particularly fantastic or bad… good enough.

    If I remember correctly, the car had about 20k miles on it and the stock tires were starting to get a bit loud. As an enthusiast and buying new, I’d probably change on delivery as I’d say they were little more than adequate for me to but drive off the lot.

    We liked the car enough that if we were in the market for a new semi-luxury sedan for my SO, it would probably be near the top of the list. I’d love to have a little more Jekyll & Hyde out of my car .. more Lexus for the SO and commuting and more E36 (haha) when you want to dial it up.

  • avatar
    abqhudson

    Crappy tires, no spare, and very coarse engine. No thanks. IF you can find a 2014, go for it – wonderful cars.

  • avatar

    I like the way these cars look but one thing about them bothers the snot out of me and it’s something Audi and Porsche are now guilty of, too: flashing the brake lights for the turn signal like it’s Topeka in 1957. But the thing that gets me most about these C-Class models is that if you look closely, they’ve got a nice amber bulb in a clear housing below the taillights. But throw that turn signal on and what does it do? Flash the brake light. *bangs head on desk in frustration*

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      This is an issue of the US DOT lighting regulations. The *actual* taillights are LED units with LED turn signals, but since they are LED turn signals they are really tiny. And the USDOT regs require a minimum *area* for turn signals, not brightness.

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