2022 Mercedes-Benz C300 4MATIC: The New Segment Benchmark

It takes all but five minutes behind the wheel of the all-new 2022 Mercedes-Benz C300 4MATIC to confirm my suspicions – Mercedes-Benz is currently engineering the world’s finest passenger vehicles. Of course, that’s a strong validation. Still, I’m bestowing it on an automaker that is credited with developing the first automobile (the 1885 Benz Patent-Motorwagen) and acknowledged for bringing advanced safety features such as airbags (SRS) and anti-lock brakes (ABS) to the masses. Mercedes-Benz is an innovator, leader, and its products are universally respected.

Despite a substantial shift towards SUVs and crossovers, with some automakers abandoning traditional sedans altogether, Mercedes-Benz is doubling down on its four-door vehicles and producing great sedans. The all-new 2022 C-Class sedan, completely redesigned this year, has just emerged as the new compact luxury sedan benchmark.

2022 Mercedes-Benz C300 4MATIC driveline

Mercedes-Benz equips the C300 with a turbocharged, 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder combustion engine rated at 255 horsepower

and 295 lb-ft of torque. The engine is complemented by “EQ Boost” – Mercedes’ mild-hybrid technology that uses an integrated starter-generator to provide an additional 20 horsepower and 148 lb-ft off torque for brief bursts (e.g., accelerating off the line or passing). The EQ Boost system utilizes a tiny 0.9 kWh battery (conserving space and saving weight). Still, it does its job effectively, allows Mercedes to eliminate the heavy starter motor, and makes the start/stop system nearly transparent.

All C300 models are fitted with a 9-speed automatic transmission. While the C-Class is offered with rear-wheel-drive, the model I tested was equipped with electronic power-distributing all-wheel-drive (Mercedes-Benz brands it “4MATIC”). The EPA has finalized fuel efficiency figures for the Mercedes-Benz C300 Sedan (25 city / 35 hwy / 29 combined) and the C 300 4MATIC Sedan (23 city / 33 hwy / 27 combined). During my drive, the 3,957-pound 4MATIC model indicated an average of 35.4 MPG during the highway portion of the testing, beating its EPA estimates.

2022 Mercedes-Benz C300 4MATIC interior

The cabin of the new C-Class is stunning – it could easily be mistaken for that of an S-Class. It is downright gorgeous in design, execution, materials, and fit and finish. While it projects a luxurious overall theme, Mercedes has done an excellent job ensuring that the passenger compartment retains a slightly more youthful and sportier aura.

The driver faces a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel directly behind the three-spoke steering wheel. A second 11.9-inch touchscreen infotainment display is mounted in portrait mode on the center console. Both are easy to read and use, but I wish Mercedes had utilized a physical dial for the audio/volume control (haptic touch is never easy while driving down the road). The turbine-like round HVAC vents deserve special mention as they deliver abundant airflow, are easy to position, and the center knob allows everyone to tell if they are open or close at a glance.

Passengers in front will look forward to the seats, which have been sculpted to hold occupants snugly and comfortably. While the front seats don’t offer active massaging (like the flagship S-Class), my test vehicle had Seat Kinetics. The system makes subtle adjustments to the occupant’s seat – as if the person is readjusting their position – and it’s surprisingly effective. Those in the back seat will find room to sit behind six-footers without feeling cramped, although nobody wants to be the fifth passenger as the center cushion isn’t molded for comfort. The second-row seats split and fold 40:20:40 for trunk access and additional utility.

How does the 2022 Mercedes-Benz C300 4MATIC drive?

Mercedes-Benz fits the C300 with Dynamic Select to allow the driver to configure the vehicle to the driving environment. There are four standard driving modes (ECO, Comfort, Sport, and Individual), but opt for the AMG Line package, and a fifth mode (Sport+) is added to the menu. As expected, the various settings alter the engine responsiveness, steering effort, throttle sensitivity, and transmission shift speed. However, the independent suspension does not utilize adaptive dampers, so the ride is unaffected.

On the road, the new C-Class sedan drives beautifully – significantly exceeding the dynamics expected from this class of vehicle. The chassis is vaultlike, and the tires effortlessly roll over bumps and imperfections in the road surface. Throttle response is quick off the line (the 0-60 mph sprint should take about 6.0 seconds), and the transmission downshifts willingly for passing.

The C300 4MATIC is a sporty sedan, not a sport sedan (a title I reserve for vehicles with more power and aggressive suspension tuning). On that note, the four-door is perfectly comfortable tackling a twisty canyon road, yet it will lose its composure if pushed too hard (initial blame is pointed at the all-season tires, as they are first to throw in the towel).

While the driver has the best seat in the house and the most accessible access to the technology, passengers will find the C300 an equally enjoyable and comfortable ride. The cabin is quiet (unless the available Burmester surround-sound audio system is rocking), and the MBUX system includes a hands-free artificial intelligence voice control system (commanded with a simple “Hey Mercedes”) that permits many operations from any seat.

Mercedes-Benz has also fitted the C-Class with the latest safety tools. Standard equipment includes a driver monitoring system, pre-Safe forward collision preparation technology, automatic emergency braking, and blind-spot monitoring with Exit Warning Assist.

How much does the 2022 Mercedes-Benz C300 4MATIC cost?

Mercedes-Benz will offer the 2022 C300 with a starting price of just under $44,000 and the C300 4MATIC with a starting price of about $46,000. The range-topping Pinnacle trim begins at just under $48,000.

Who should buy a 2022 Mercedes-Benz C300 4MATIC?

The 2022 Mercedes-Benz C300 is a premium compact luxury sedan targeting a young and affluent audience seeking a stylish, innovative, safe, and technically advanced sedan. Ultimate performance is not a primary objective, yet driving dynamics must be world-class and uncompromised. This discerning buyer is likely new to the brand, and the C-Class will be the first of their many Mercedes-Benz products down the road.

Is the 2022 Mercedes-Benz C300 4MATIC a good vehicle?

The all-new 2022 Mercedes-Benz C300 4MATIC is the best premium compact luxury sedan I have driven in many years – it has earned the coveted spot as the new benchmark in the segment. Well-engineered, beautifully crafted, and a joy to drive, the standard C300 is just the first of a range of new C-Class models that will hit the market over the next several years.

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