2023 Mercedes-Benz C 300 Pros:
– The latest C-Class is a great driver.
– The new mild-hybrid technology is a welcome add-on in all respects.
– The new sedan is gorgeous.
2023 Mercedes-Benz C 300 Cons:
– The base price for a new base C-Class is nearly $60,000.
– The wagon version is no longer offered in Canada.
The Mercedes-Benz C-Class is an original and founding member of one of the most famous and debated auto trios in the world. While the spotlight has moved away from these sedans, in favour of disposable SUVs, the C-Class remains an exceptional car that deserves the ongoing adulation and praises it continues to receive.
This latest 6th-generation W206 2023 Mercedes-Benz C-Class still carries the legendary 190E W201’s aura and does it proud. Though potentially irrelevant to most if not all buyers, this intangible is likely what impacts me the most and brings me to say that the new C-Class is my favorite of the trio at the moment that includes, of course, the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series.
The 2023 Mercedes-Benz C 300 is beautiful, quick, luxurious, and loaded to the gills. Well, to be honest, this Spectral blue model is a little too loaded at about $73,000 CDN. A portion of the nearly $15,000 in options piled onto this car comes from the Sport packages. It is responsible for the tester’s AMG body kit and 18-inch AMG 5-spoke aero wheels. These elements heighten the C-Class’ wonderful lines and character.
I’m quite enamoured by the C 300’s overall styling – it’s a better-looking S-Class. I especially love how the lower front fascia is tucked in below the grille – this reminds me of the CLS and GT. And Spectral blue or Hyacinth red are the only colours to go with them. The bottom line is that the new C-Class is far more Benz in presence and personality than the disposable GLC.
Wild and subdue
The new Benz C-Class cabin is a mix of extreme simplicity and pizazz. The door cards are where designers spent the least amount of money and effort, this is obvious. The focus then was on dressing up the dashboard with displays and super-cool vents. As standard, the C 300 includes a 12.3-inch digital instrument display and an 11.9-inch touchscreen. The latter is angled and tilted to make it more accessible from the driver’s seat. Benz’s MBUX system is smart and user-friendly but the near complete absence of physical buttons means that some functions require a few extra steps. My main issue here is that the heated steering wheel does not have a separate button – it can only be activated when firing up the heated seat.
For a generation now, Mercedes-Benz has put emphasis on interior ambiance. The EQS exemplified this however even though the C-Class is one-third the price of the big EV, it too features funky vents that light up – admittedly, it’s gimmicky but hey, my kids love it.
The tester’s contoured sport front seats and thick, flat-bottom sport steering wheel conveyed a message that did not fall on deaf ears in my case.
Mild Hybrid power
As with many automakers, the numbers following the lettered nomenclature have something to do with the output. In Mercedes’ case, 300 is the second lowest to 250. Expectations are then low for performance but 300 in 2023 is a far cry from what it stood for only a decade ago.
The C 300 is powered by a turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder engine with mild hybrid assistance. The 48V Integrated Starter-Generator can also supply up to 20 hp and 147 lb-ft of torque when required. In all, the small-ish Benz sedan is blessed with 255 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, good enough to send the car to 100 km/h from a dead-stop in 6 seconds. This figure might not sound quick, but you’ll be surprised how rapidly the included 9G-TRONIC 9-speed automatic transmission and 4MATIC all-wheel drive respond to throttle inputs.
The potential for speed is there and the C 300 can but it can also behave like a true premium sedan. Though the dampers are not adjustable, the 4-link front and 5-link rear suspension deliver a comfortable and sporty ride that feels more “grown-up” than that of a C-Class. It’s the same for refinement where despite being light-ish and agile, the ride quality is bigger-sedan-like. The only downside to the driving experience is the spongy long-travel brake pedal.
C-Class >>>>> GLC
They’re the same but really not. The C-Class, this C 300, almost glows as a premium car over a sea of grey, white, and black GLCs. No, I’ve got nothing against the GLC (I know a few people who drive one), it’s just that it’s not as special as the C. Also, it’s still an older-generation vehicle compared to the new C-Class.
Finally, this 2023 Mercedes-Benz C-Class was good enough to temporarily convince me that the Benz is the better car among the trio of German small-midsize luxury sedans. What I would suggest is to limit options to the Sport and Premium package, and colour, for roughly $65,000. Anything over that and I would suggest waiting for the upcoming first version of AMG sedans.