The Traditionalists' 2022 Mercedes-Benz C300 4Matic

Mercedes-Benz, like many other automakers, is diving headfirst into the electric future with models like the EQS and EQE. But that doesn't imply that the company is abandoning its well-known models. The C-class sedan, which has been redesigned for 2022, is a good example. The new C has updated mechanicals and new technological features, but its idea and appearance are still comfortably familiar.

The most recent C-class appears more like a junior S-class than previous generations. The proportions of the new design come first in this. The set-back passenger compartment of the new C, which Mercedes refers to as being "cab-backward," sets this vehicle apart from the inferior A-class and CLA-class sedans with their transverse-engine, front-drive architecture (which are leaving our market at the end of the model year). The cab-forward, arc-shaped profile of the battery-powered EQE and EQS sets the C-class apart as well. The C-class appears more regal as a result of its extended dash-to-axle ratio and long hood. This is true even though the overall form language is smoother and the front-end design adopts the wide, rounded grille shape that AMG models invented but is now canted slightly forward. All trim levels can purchase an AMG Line package, which adds a rear diffuser, extended rocker panels, and a reshaped lower fascia.

The car has a wheelbase that is an inch longer, but its length has increased by 2.5 inches as a result of a longer rear overhang. Rear-wheel-drive models have a 1.9-inch wider rear track, which forces the wheels out closer to the edge of the bodywork, while the front track widens by 0.8 inches, despite the fact that the overall width only slightly increases. The all-wheel-drive model's track dimensions are not yet known.

The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder in the C300 is the same as in the outgoing vehicle. (The new-generation AMG C-class models experience a bigger change, switching to four-cylinder power for the C43 and even the powerful C63.) Mercedes is combining a four-cylinder engine with a 48-volt hybrid assist system for the first time, with the motor-generator built into the transmission housing. The electric motor produces incredibly smooth auto stop/starts but cannot move the vehicle on battery power alone. Additionally, it permits engine-off coasting, but only when the car is braking and getting close to a stop, allowing you to silently approach your garage door.

All-wheel drive is available on any trim level for a $2000 premium over rear-wheel drive. Again, shifting is handled by the manufacturer's nine-speed automatic transmission, the 9G-Tronic. The engine's stated horsepower remains at 255, but its torque increases from 273 to 295 pound-feet. Additionally, the 48-volt starter-generator offers an additional 20 horses and 148 pound-feet in spurts, though they do not increase the engine's overall output. The C300 4Matic reached 60 mph in our testing in 5.3 seconds, a respectable effort that is comparable to what the most recent model of the BMW 330i xDrive we tested could accomplish but slower than the 4.8 seconds it took an Audi A4 45. The Benz's hybrid system effectively reduces turbo lag at low speeds, and the powertrain propels the C-class forward during passing manoeuvres or highway merges. A bit of a surprise given that, when you're standing outside an idling C300, this engine clatters like a diesel, the previously quiet engine emits a satisfyingly angry snarl as the tach needle approaches 5000 rpm or so.

The new rear-drive C-EPA class's fuel economy ratings of 25 mpg city, 35 mpg highway, and 29 mpg combined are 1 to 2 mpg better than those of the outgoing model but fall short of the 26/36 city/highway rating of the BMW 330i. The figures all decrease by 2 mpg when all-wheel drive is used. While our test vehicle only managed a so-so 25 mpg on average, it outperformed its highway rating by 2 mpg by recording a strong 35 mpg on our 75 mph highway test.

Mercedes Airmatic air springs are not available in the new C-class, but the chassis has adaptive dampers. A sport suspension with a 0.6-inch-lower ride height is part of the AMG Line package. The C-class has drive settings for Eco, Comfort, Sport, Individual, and (with the AMG Line) Sport+, but these don't really change anything. Body movements are well-controlled in every mode, but some harshness does find its way into the cabin. Evidently, the idea of a pothole-filled infrastructure similar to what we have in the U.S. is difficult for Stuttgart's chassis engineers to comprehend. The stylish 19-inch wheels on our AMG Line sample car's staggered-fitment low-profile tires bear some of the blame, but the situation was essentially the same in a different C300 with 18-inch wheels and 225/45 front and 245/40 rear tires.

Although the C300 was eager to rotate with a lift of the throttle, the meaty rubber of the AMG Line delivered 0.91 g of stick on our skidpad in Michigan. Additionally, they assisted the C-class in maintaining its stability on deserted backroads in Putnam County, New York, and across the Hudson in the Catskill Mountains' foothills. Turn-in was responsive with barely any push, even when the road jogged away from us coming over a blind crest and we jerked the wheel quickly. It was also responsive when we had to wind on more lock in response to tightening curves. Additionally, there wasn't a lot of body roll. But if the steering weren't so sluggish, the C300 would offer a sportier driving experience. Although stops from 70 mph took a manageable 154 feet, the brake pedal is unnervingly squishy.

Although it isn't quite as quiet inside, the C-class cabin gives off an S-class vibe to the driver and passengers: At 70 mph, the 66 decibels we measured are 2 decibels louder than what we measured inside a 2021 S580 model. The front chairs have lateral bolsters that are deep but not confining like those in a senior Benz, and the cushions, which can be adjusted in length or width, provide generous thigh support. Both the new 11.9-inch central touchscreen and the 12.3-inch digital instrumentation display are free-standing. The dash descends in a waterfall-like curve behind them. Although there are other material options, the shape is highlighted by the black wood trim with vertical aluminum lines. The door handle and seat switches are housed in a pod that protrudes from the door panel, continuing the theme of free-standing elements, and the forward portion of the door armrests appears to be floating. Metal speaker grilles and the return of bull's-eye air vents with flattened top and bottom portions add to the air of calculated ostentation.

As in the S-class, the navigation system now includes augmented video. The map is replaced by a forward-cam video feed with street names and directional arrows as the vehicle approaches a turn. The forward camera can serve as a dashcam as well.

The previous rotary controller, along with all knobs and the majority of buttons, are eliminated in favor of the central touchscreen, which rises up from the center console. A touch slider for the audio volume (ugh) and touch-sensitive buttons to choose the drive mode, activate the multiview camera (excellent), and access the vehicle settings menu are located at the bottom of the screen. Additionally, there is a fingerprint recognition pad that can be used to access custom preferences. The lower portion of the display is taken up entirely by the climate controls. There is also an on-screen audio tuner. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, but wireless device charging is an extra charge; only USB-C is supported for wired connections.

Touch sensitive devices are used for all of the steering wheel controls. They have a touch slider for the audio volume as well as one to adjust the cruise control set speed. Four-way swipe touchpads are used to move around the main screen or the driver information display. We just have to say: Enough with the touch madness already. When you combine the imprecision of touch sliders with four-way touchpads that frequently respond with a vertical-motion action when you're trying for a horizontal-motion action.

Despite this modern annoyance, those looking for a classic Benz at a reasonable price should find the C-class appealing. The C300 is available in three trim levels: Premium, Exclusive, and Pinnacle, each of which costs $44,600, $46,850, and $48,550, respectively. Some standard extras, like leather and adaptive cruise control with automated lane-change capability, come at an additional cost. Given how closely it resembles its six-figure sibling, the new C-class can appear to be a good deal even at its $63,590 as-tested price for our all-wheel-drive Pinnacle test car.



Base/As Tested: $46,600/$63,590

Options: Pinnacle trim package (Burmester surround sound, surround-view system, navigation with augmented video, head-up display), $3950; AMG line (sport suspension and steering, flat-bottom steering wheel, cross-drilled brake rotors, AMG body kit), $3400; nappa leather, $2590; driver assistance package (adaptive cruise control with steering assist, active brake assist), $1700; LED headlamps, $1100; sunroof, $1000; Selenite grey paint, $750; 19-inch wheels, $600; ventilated front seats, $450; SiriusXM radio, $350; extra 12V and USB ports, $300; heated steering wheel, $250; dashcam, $200; wood trim, $200; acoustic glass, $150


  • turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection
  • Displacement: 122 in3, 1991 cm3
  • Power: 255 hp @ 5800 rpm
  • Torque: 295 lb-ft @ 2000 rpm


9-speed automatic


  • Suspension, F/R: multilink/multilink
  • Brakes, F/R: 13.5-in vented, cross-drilled disc/13.0-in vented disc
  • Tires: Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 5
  • F: 225/40R-19 93Y MO
  • R: 255/35R-19 96Y MO


  • Wheelbase: 112.8 in
  • Length: 187.0 in
  • Width: 71.7 in
  • Height: 56.6 in
  • Passenger Volume: 94 ft3
  • Trunk Volume: 13 ft3
  • Curb Weight: 4044 lb

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