Mock Mercedes-Benz all you want, as most Audi fans love to do, but there’s no denying the fact that the folks in Stuttgart know how to bring high-end luxury to more entry-level segments. One look at the all-new 2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class and you’re instantly reminded that it’s made by the same folks that make the S-Class.
Mercedes-Benz is an S-Class company. Which is exactly why Mercedes made the new C-Class in its image.
For the 2022 model year, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class has been reborn and sports a design, an interior and technology similar to the brand’s flagship luxury car. For C-Class customers, this is exactly what needed to be happen. While that might diminish the S-Class’ design exclusivity, it will increase the desirability of the C-Class, which is one of the best selling cars in Mercedes’ lineup. While that isn’t too exciting to enthusiasts, who’d prefer a sportier, sharper sedan, the majority of customers in this segment are going to love the new C-Class for its luxurious new design and interior.
While the C-Class is designed to look like its older, more expensive sibling, I actually think the new C-Class looks better than the bigger S-Class. To my eyes, it’s the best sedan interpretation of Mercedes-Benz’s design language. The C-pillar into the trunk creates a sporty, muscular rear end that accentuates the rear wheels.
It’s not the flashiest looking sedan in the segment but it’s absolutely a handsome, premium looking car. At least in America, we can see this selling like crazy.
Inside, the new C-Class gets a very flash interior. The driver gets their own digital gauge panel, which is all-new and highly configurable. It’s even more interesting looking than Audi’s Virtual Cockpit. While Audi’s VC is among the best digital gauge cluster in the world, it’s getting a bit tired now and Mercedes’ is a bit more exciting. The C-Class also gets the new portrait-style touchscreen dominating the dash, though we do appreciate the slight cant toward the driver.
A sporty looking three-spoke steering wheel looks great, as do the aluminum (or at least aluminum-look) air vents. All of the interior ambient lighting also adds a ton of theater to the cabin of the C-Class, something Mercedes-Benz has been doing well for many years.
That sharp cabin is aided by Mercedes-Benz’s latest MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience), which is one of the most impressive new infotainment systems on the market. Many enthusiasts prefer it to Audi’s new touchscreen MMI.
In the U.S., the only model available at launch will be the Mercedes-Benz C300, which will pack a 2.0 liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, as well as a 48-volt mild-hybrid (MHEV) setup. Normally, it makes 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, which is round about what the 261 horsepower and 273 lb-ft Audi A4 45 TFSI makes. However, the C300 gets an “ISG” (Integrated Starter Generator, which can not only add 20 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque but it also starts the engine while warm and can allow the engine to shut down while the ISG provides power for highway coasting. Paired to that engine is Mercedes-Benz’s own nine-speed automatic
According to Mercedes-Benz, the new C300 can get from 0-60 mph in 5.9 seconds, which is a skoch slower than the Audi A4 45 TFSI. Oddly, that performance figure stays the same even for the all-wheel drive C300 4Matic. The weight penalty must offset the added grip.
Will the Audi A4 handle better than the C-Class? Most likely but that’s only because it doesn’t seem that the new Benz is trying to match the A4 for handling. Instead, it’s trying to do its own thing, be its own car. The C-Class seems to want to be a slick, premium, high-tech, good looking and luxurious executive sedan, letting the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series handle the sportier customers. If you want sporty, get a 3 Series, A4 or an Alfa Romeo Giulia. But if you want comfort, the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class is likely going to be the better bet.