By on July 15, 2016

2016 Mercedes-Benz C300 4Matic Coupe

While it’s true that TTAC’s managing editor spent last week in an $11,595 2016 Chevrolet Spark, auto writers living on the east coast of Canada are rather more accustomed to receiving highly optioned cars from the press fleet.

There was the 2016 Mazda CX-9 Platinum priced, in Mazda USA speak, at $45,215. A couple of weeks before, the new Honda Civic Coupe arrived in Touring trim — not Si, not Type R — at a U.S. market price of $26,960. Toyota Highlander? Make it a Limited Hybrid at $51,445.

So what a pleasure it was to see a 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe pull into my driveway and see no AMG badges, the basic 2.0-liter turbo/all-wheel-drive combo, and only $7,540 in options. A mere scintilla of options. Scarcely a soupçon of selections from the lengthy list of Mercedes-Benz choices.

Thus, with shockwaves reverberating around GCBC Towers, a 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe arrived as a successor to our 2016 Lexus RC tester, a direct C-Class Coupe competitor, with $6,000 of savings in hand.

Yes, as-tested, the Benz was $6,000 less than its Lexus rival. And yes, the Benz is the better car.

It starts inside. Style is a subjective matter, but I was hard-pressed to find a single passenger who didn’t find the C300’s cabin multiple notches above the prototypical Japanese Lexus RC’s button-infested interior.

2016 Mercedes-Benz C-Class coupe interior

The tacked-on screen with a surround that would seem cheap on an iPad knock-off is a major letdown given the material quality and sense of solidity elsewhere inside the Benz, but it doesn’t cancel out the hi-lux vibes the C300 sends out from optional open-pre dark ash wood trim, the saddle brown leather, or the HVAC vents’ smooth operation. Neither does the silly column shifter or the sunroof that sounded like it was crunching gravel.

The Lexus, by comparison, was a more feature-laden car: proximity access, push-button start, and cooled seats, as examples. But luxury isn’t always about stuff. The Mercedes feels and looks and smells like it should cost $15,000 more than it does.

In the real world, the C300 4Matic is also the far more engaging on-road partner. Much as I tolerated — even accepted and sometimes appreciated — the RC’s lack of cornering acumen because of its sublime ride quality and day-to-day comfort, the C300 4Matic’s sharper responses, greater level of engagement, and tolerable ride quality creates an obviously superior driving experience.

One week earlier, I was forever telling new passengers that the RC350 F Sport isn’t half as sporty as they thought it was going to be. I was constantly making allowances for an orange car with outrageous styling that was bound not to shock and awe.

2016 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe

Be very sure, the C300 4Matic, even with upgraded 245/40R18 Continental ProContact GXSSRs on 18-inch five-spoke alloys, is more keen on sporty cruising than sports car enthusiasm. But when you demand more from the Benz on a twisty road, turn-in is sufficiently swift, the 7-speed automatic shirks its sometimes awkward low-rev behaviour to snap off shifts, and the car as a whole gets down to business.

The RC’s excessive girth causes Lexus to hold up a metaphorical caution sign. “I can do this if you really want me to,” the Lexus seemed to say, “or we can just let the Benz have its fun. We’ll catch up later.”

Caned on a long straightaway, there’s likely not much between the 306-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 in the Lexus RC350 and the 241-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged Mercedes-Benz four-cylinder. The Lexus produces only three more pounds-feet of torque, and it does so at 4,800 rpm, 3,500 revs up the tach than the torque peak in the C300.

As a result, in routine driving, regardless of what might happen on an airport runway, the Mercedes-Benz feels like the livelier car. I won’t lie: these modern turbos in small engines make me miss naturally aspirated throttle response. In action, however, when you’re following a dawdling tractor-trailer onto a highway and you need to squirt out quickly into traffic, I want my torque now.

Revs are fun. Smooth, V6 revs are even more fun. Instantaneous response is not as fun, but it is practical.

2016 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupe interior

On at least one other count, the far less costly Mercedes-Benz C300 4Matic declared itself the winner in my back-to-back quasi-comparo. Mercedes-Benz’s Agility Select dramatically transforms the car, crafting multiple personalities in one machine.

The Lexus RC350 F Sport had a button, too. Press for Normal, turn left for Eco, turn right for Sport or Sport+. The RC is undeniably a more athletic and responsive car in Sport+ than in Eco. Rather than dull the throttle, the RC becomes more hyper. The steering is weightier, the ride is firmer. The differences, however, are not astounding — it’s very much the same car.

In the Mercedes-Benz, however, shuffling the little toggle/wheel marked Dynamic from Eco through to Sport+ reveals an entirely different car. Gone is the detached cruiser and in comes the exuberant go-getter champing at the bit. There’s also an individual setting that allows you to mix and match the best of multiple worlds.

Thus, the Mercedes-Benz C300 4Matic wasn’t just the less expensive of the two luxury coupes, it was more than one car.

This article previously referred to this C300 4Matic as a 2016 model year car. It is actually a 2017 model year car, and the article was updated for clarity.

[Images: © 2016 Timothy Cain / The Truth About Cars]

Timothy Cain is the founder of, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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61 Comments on “2017 Mercedes-Benz C300 4Matic Coupe: Better (and Less Costly) than That Orange Lexus RC350...”

  • avatar

    Everything is better than a Lexus.

    I’m conflicted on whether or not giving everyone the feel of the S-class W222 interior was a good idea or not.

    On the plus side: Mercedes’ new cars are more beautiful than ever before – inside and out.

    On the negative: You can buy an E-class or even a C-class and have just as much luxury as you would in an S-class. which means that now: the S-class isn’t as necessary and you needn’t aspire to it.

    The E-class is going to be a volume killer and will continue to make Lexus’ cars look poor and inadequate.

    The only major interior mistake was putting that floating tablet looking screen there instead of setting the display back into the dash – and not making it a touchscreen.

    Mercedes’ Comand in my W221 was the best control system ever – right up till touchscreens became the norm.

    To not offer a touchscreen is shortsighted arrogance.


    Learn it.

    As for “what is luxury”?

    Luxury means different things to different people. It’s completely subjective. I love the way Mercedes’ cars *feel* and *look* over BMW and Lexus’s cars. While I do prefer BMW’s seats in the 7-series which are like seats out of a corporate jet…I prefer Mercedes’ overall package.

    • 0 avatar

      The C and E make the S look redundant for good reason… it mostly is. OK, the C-Class is a little cramped, a little too expensive, and a little too heavy to be a “sports sedan”. But the new E-Class gives you all the sense of occasion of an S-Class, with just a little less room and a lot less power. However, this is even less of a driver’s car than the C, so I’m not sure much would be missed there.

      Truthfully the only way the S makes sense to me is if you can afford to hire a driver for it. After living in the UES for a few years, chauffeurs were pretty much the only people I saw in an S550 driver’s seat. Or if you buy a last gen one used for like $17K and know what the hell you are getting yourself into.

      • 0 avatar

        “Truthfully the only way the S makes sense to me is if you can afford to hire a driver for it. ”

        OR if you are nearly 2 meters tall.

        The S-class sells for a good reason. It’s YUUUUGE.

        It’s the only car I could see fitting 4 of me in and travelling down the i95 to Florida.

        The XJ-L I leased was too cramped and I wouldn’t want to have to physically drive my JGCSRT or HELLCAt that distance. W22 is far superior and the C and E give you a good taste of that.


    • 0 avatar

      Then your YouTube/Uber mad cash talks saying the real deal is on a nicely discounted Cadillac. Pound for pound, feature for feature the Cadillac well give you your residuals at purchase time rather than at selling time like the Japanese.

  • avatar
    Michael McDonald

    Nice review. I like your bit that luxury isn’t all about ‘stuff’ – because it isn’t. It’s about the look, feel, and even smell. My Optima might have some more features than an entry level 5 series, but what’s actually more luxurious?

    As a side note, I am a little surprised to see the blank button next to the heated seat button. I assume that’s where the cooled seat button goes, but I mean – surely in a car this costly they could make it look a little nicer. That’s a cheap car thing, not luxury. Just my 0.02

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy Cain

      Wholehearted agreement.

    • 0 avatar

      I can’t unsee that blank button now.

      That used to be a GM specialty, blanks to help remind you of what features you didn’t pony up for – you cheap bastard.

      • 0 avatar

        It seems to be a German specialty these days, and VAG leads the way. My boss was looking for a new Audi. I told him to count the button blanks, and he came back kind of shocked. He thought a luxury car was supposed to make you feel rich!

    • 0 avatar
      Michael McDonald

      It’s awful. How can my loaded Kia Optima not have a single blank button ( I only sprang for an EX with premium package) but a very well-equipped Mercedes does?! It does not compute.

      • 0 avatar

        They should give every button a acronym and a led that comes on when you push it. It doesn’t have to do anything useful, just so that folks don’t think they bought a “cheap” car.

    • 0 avatar

      As he rises to her apology
      Anybody else would surely know
      He’s watching her go

      But what a fool believes
      he sees
      No wise man has the power
      to reason away
      What seems to be
      Is always better than nothing
      And nothing at all
      keeps sending him

  • avatar

    Oh, boy. Look at that giant Mercedes emblem on the grill. Mercedes once stood for understated elegance. Today it’s ever more bling that appeals to rap stars and other wannabes. I don’t see much of a future for Mercedes in the US.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      “I don’t see much of a future for Mercedes in the US.”

      Well, when *everything* these days is rather overstated in design, I think Mercedes-Benz will do just fine.

      • 0 avatar

        Once ‘luxury’ cars start turning up parked in the finest ghetto and trailer park neighborhoods, it’s the kiss of death for that brand. People with real money no longer want to be associated with it. It’s one of the factors that knocked Cadillac and Lincoln off their pedestals. Like one of my elderly neighbors said to me once, “If a person was driving a Cadillac or Lincoln (back in the day), that meant something.”

    • 0 avatar

      A 75% sales increase since 2002 shows how full of crap your sentiments are. The people buying brand new Benzes will never go to the ghetto graveyards their out of lease S550s go. Literally nothing about this claim holds water.

      • 0 avatar

        But as long as people in the ghetto still have to drive to work, you’re going to see ratty old Mercedes sharing the road with you. And 10 years from now, those ratty old Mercedes are going to have giant, LED-lit stars on the front end. Though luckily for the monocle-wearing set, most of those LEDs will be burnt out.

    • 0 avatar

      The “giant” star in the grille is a traditional styling cue for Mercedes. They have continuously used this feature on coupes since at least 1952 with the 300SL.

      Your perception that this is some kind of modern bling is very much incorrect.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I think this is great. I saw one in traffic and it looks a lot more expensive than it probably is. And, if the sedan is any indication, it also feels that way.

    Speaking of which…what was the as-tested price?

  • avatar

    And the MB cost what???? Yes I get less than the RC but how much, and I must be getting old I had to look up what Lexus you were talking about. Now how about a c class wagon in the states MB?

  • avatar

    I represent the Consumers Against Goofy-Looking AC Vents Committee; we are actively recruiting new members.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    Tim, did your test car include the option to have that oversized three-pointed star on the grille light up when the headlights are on? That was a real option on the C Class – at least as of a couple of years ago. Daimler knows its customers. I guess they figured those who were really reaching to get into a baby Benz would want to scream to the world about what they were driving. I figure that’s why the star is so big to begin with. It would be nice if a smaller one was available.

  • avatar

    Two things:

    1) You assert the Mercedes is better and less costly the the Lexus yet quote no pricing on either

    2) Cost is a relative term, in terms of leasing cost the Benz may in fact be more bang for the buck. In terms of MSRP, we don’t know which is actually less costly since there are no MSRPs given however I would off the cuff estimate the Lexus to be less costly in TCO by a significant margin based on depreciation alone.

    Otherwise, I enjoyed the piece. I also would have commented on the $26 Ipad on top of the dash which makes it look incredibly cheap in comparison to the Lexus setup, but I noticed in both pieces you didn’t seem to comment much on infotainment.

  • avatar

    Nice car. Way better looking than the Lexus. However, there is this:

    “I won’t lie: these modern turbos in small engines make me miss naturally aspirated throttle response. In action, however, when you’re following a dawdling tractor-trailer onto a highway and you need to squirt out quickly into traffic, I want my torque now.

    Revs are fun. Smooth, V6 revs are even more fun. Instantaneous response is not as fun, but it is practical.”

    You are hereby held in scorn by the TTAC B&B. You are supposed to enjoy waiting for your N/A acceleration to hit, because the delay sounds better – ?

    I guess the delay in acceleration while you are waiting for the N/A engine to rev up higher on its powerband is not the same as the delay from turbo lag. Somehow more laudable.

    As for the three-pointed star on the grille…you people go to the piece on the RC350, look at the photos, and tell me that the Lexus “L” on that car’s grille is not every bit as large. Ditto with the one on the steering wheel hub. And the grille and the steering wheel on the M-B are much easier on the eyes, too. As is the whole rest of the car.

    Finally, he says the Lexus was $54,375 and that the M-B was $6k cheaper, for all those who can’t figure out how much it cost.

    • 0 avatar

      In an article whose title is “2016 Mercedes-Benz C300 4Matic Coupe: Better (and Less Costly) than That Orange Lexus RC350” failing to cite some sort of cost figure of either model and instead forcing readers to become MacGyver with links is disingenuous and wrong.

      • 0 avatar

        See clearly-marked link in post (right next to where he says M-B is $6k cheaper), right-click, select “open link in new window,” find price in Lexus post (not hidden or anything…), mentally subtract $6k. Voila.

        My work here is done.

        – McGyver

    • 0 avatar

      “You are hereby held in scorn by the TTAC B&B. You are supposed to enjoy waiting for your N/A acceleration to hit, because the delay sounds better – ?”

      What you are supposed to do, is figure out how to operate a gear box, so that no waiting is required. On an NA, without turbo lag, at least…..

      I guess if you’re advanced enough, figuring out how to keep a turbo spooling, rally style, allows for a genuinely instant hit as well, but even amongst the B&B, I suspect that’s more involvement than most are up for on the morning commute in their $50K four banger.

      • 0 avatar

        Turbo-4’s are more elastic off boost where a larger NA will be more consistent in response.

        Some blame goes to Toyota for Sudden Acceleration woes manufacturers have dumb down response time in torque converter, electronic throttle opening speeds, and gear kicked. On GM cars with HPTuners I can dial some of this out but going with a larger throttle body, a 8mm bigger from the 3.6 LFX will work on a 2.0T LTG. Just need an adapter plate and reducing coupler to adapt bigger TB to stock housing. Some of the turbo-4 response is brought back.

  • avatar

    Good thing you mentioned that it had hardly any options those new coupes are a ton of money for a 4 cylinder car. Although they look good.

    With LED headlamps, back up camera, garage door opener and the packages that include those features in Canada the car is in the high 50’s, and its still a 4 cylinder car.

    Real leather is an additional 2K and a proper sound system another 1K now the car is in the low 60’s even more money.

  • avatar

    I recently spent a day with a new 300C and found these items to my dislike. The start/stop which can not be turned off as the preferred setting. Must reset ever time you get in. The Ipad dash looks cheap, look at the E Class dash. So much better. The DIT4, rattled on start, was noisy at idle and a bit slow a the start. Not good enough for an MB, lacking in smoothness. I like my 6 cylinder Merc much better. The stalk mounted shifter. Nothing to like there.
    That said the drive was very good, quite and handled well. Power is great at highway speed and the engine works well there. Looks like a much more expensive car, interior nice except for screen.

  • avatar

    In warranty and out you will be glad you passed on any Mercedes. Sorry but in 2016 the problems that continue to plague European brands just don’t wash. Get a Lexus and enjoy a boring (maybe) yet trouble free experience.

  • avatar

    $6000 less expensive when new. I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that the 5 and 10 year ownership costs favor the Lexus.

  • avatar

    The workers at Freightliner can buy anything Daimler makes. The vast majority are driving the C300 4Matic when I drive by their new building. If they offered that coupe with a V8 engine I would consider going into debt. Those coupes look like $100k cars at the rear 3/4 view. Beautiful

  • avatar

    I think MB is on to something by making the C class sportier, edgier and younger than the E and S. Previously, the C kind of fell through the cracks, by being no more than the Benz for those who couldn’t (yet) afford a larger one. But with the new ones, there are genuine, non monetary, reasons to opt for the C over the bigger ones. Just like with BMW and the 3.

  • avatar

    No thanks. The Lexus is better. And it will still be on the road past the warranty expiring.

    • 0 avatar

      BOOM. Compare the total cost of ownership of both. Which will spend more time in the shop? Which will be more reliable? Which will have better resale value?

      The review made me laugh, because he pronounced the C300 the better car, then proceeded to justify all its shortcomings compared to the RC350.

      • 0 avatar

        Double-boom! Cargurus has 2006 IS and C 350’s within a thousand or so depending on options. Warranties until 100,000 miles are similarly priced.

        So much for Lexus residuals as more smoke has blown up people’s rear end by dealer’s and auctions than ever.

        • 0 avatar

          My 10 year old c class (W203) owned completely out of warranty for the last 5 years has been largely trouble free. The quality of materials is very high and it has worn like iron. I don’t think a Lexus of similar vintage would have aged as well, reliability notwithstanding.

    • 0 avatar

      Price out a 10 year old Lexus and a 10 year old Merc … better yet, drive both of them. People who only drive cars they don’t pay for when they’re in their first year of mileage with weekly detailing and diagnostics have no idea what a car is. Tim has a few cars of his own though… I believe him that the C is nicer to drive and has a lower price *as optioned* than the RC-F *as optioned*. Especially since he valued almost none of the things that the F added to the Lexus. If he compared an RC to a C with even across option levels… it might be different. He can only review what they put in GCBC towers driveway. Kind of a nice gig.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m not buying that the Benz is inferior. These anecdotal references by everyone seems to perpetuate a myth that is just that – a myth. There are way too many 5-15 year old M-B’s on the road for them to be as crappy as we would be led to believe. I have a 40 year old SL that, predictably, has had some problems, but the pleasure I get driving it with the top down is off the charts. Plus, it causes owners with newer models to come and comment and relate their ownership experience. I have only heard one person swear off of the brand because of their trouble in eight years of ownership. My car hasn’t needed anything any other car of its age would need as regular upkeep. Tires, brakes, a heater fan, ignition module and a rubber body kit is all I have needed. Still has original paint. Give Karl’s cars some respect. They’ve earned it.

    • 0 avatar

      100% agree. After two MB models I will never buy another. You’d expect better from a $80K+ German make. Lexus holds value, reliable, and has exceptional customer service.

  • avatar

    lease? mercedes
    buy with hard earned cash and keep? lexus

    its all about the TCO

    • 0 avatar

      Same price a decade down the road. Valet would better parking a MB or BMW than a Toyota, especially when it cones to tips and tipping.

      Besides ES owners are similar to Camry owners but with an attitude. Just look at the most ticket car on the road.

  • avatar

    It sounds like the Benz is just different. Adding some engagement while reducing ride quality to “tolerable” levels is not what I would call an “obviously superior driving experience.”

  • avatar

    The Lexus is a Frankenstein monster of a car that’s three old platforms welded together. It’s worse than the current IS in every way, and has no reason to exist other than that Lexus wanted a coupe for this segment, and it was the cheapest, laziest way they could make one. If you want to support that kind of half effort engineering “because reliable,” by all means.

    I just fine it kind of pathetic that once Lexus had a coupe that was within shouting distance of the CL coupe, and it looked *better* than that car. Arguably better looking than the BMW 8 series coupe as well. And now they make…that. If Infiniti doesn’t completely botch the new Q60 coupe the same way they did the Q50 at launch, I suspect that RC sales will completely crater.

  • avatar

    The new C-class is really well put together. But one thing really bothered me at a dealer visit – the trunk lid felt really really lightweight. Corolla-like would be how I would describe it.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    As an owner of an 08 ml350 with 85k , I’ve had only minimal issues. What it boils down to for long term ownership of any car is , would you want to keep driving this despite the hassle of driving a car past it’s warranty?
    Alot of this is based on driving satisfactoin, styling, interior quality , and overall craftmanship. I think this Merc wins in this regard. I think Lexus has some serious styling issues.

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