Compact cars made by Mercedes-Benz have always been popular in Europe. When the factory started sending examples to the North American market many years ago, results were mixed. Yes, there were enough customers willing to acquire a “Baby Benz” thanks to the low price of admission. But there were those who claimed that a real Mercedes has a large V-12 engine at most or six-cylinder at least. A small sedan with “four banger” under the hood wasn’t a “real” Mercedes. Today, things have changed. The factory has gone all out to make their smaller models just as desirable as the bigger units, and it has paid off. This C-300 is a good example of what a Benz should be, even at its lower price.
The first thing noticed is the high quality of the interior, with top grade materials and workmanship. The overall appearance is just as impressive as the more expensive E-Class sedans.
As in the more expensive models, we get a large infotainment screen, with plenty of functions. It looks complicated to operate, but after a few days is actually simple to use.
The large screen offers four drive modes: Comfort, Eco, Sport, and Individual.
The rearview camera offers a wide view with sharp images.
Bored with your gauge cluster? There are many versions to pick from. Here is the conventional view.
This is the “Understated” gauge. It looks nice, but there isn’t much useful info here.
Everyone’s favorite was the “Sport” gauge. It is awesome to look at, especially during night drives, where it really glows.
Under the hood is an inline four turbo, with a mild hybrid assist. It cranks 255 horsepower, and 295 lbs./ft. of torque. It is hooked to a 9-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy is claimed to be 23/35 MPG. 0-60 mph time is just under 6 seconds.
In every day commuting, we observed 25 MPG. On long highway trips cruising at 75 mph, we got 37.5!
This C-300 is very pleasant to drive. It’s solid, quick, is economical, corners like a champ, and has strong brakes. This is what a “real” Mercedes is all about.
We did a lot of night driving, so got an idea of how the headlights perform. The low beam setting was very good, with enough height and reach for city or country drives. The high-beam mode blasted a strong flood of light way out there for fast driving, especially in the middle. Overall, they passed our requirements.
This starting fee of $43K is reasonable, but as always in the German luxury car market, options jack the price. But at just under $50K, this is competitive with similar models from BMW and Audi.