2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class: Honey, I Shrunk the S-Class
Competes with: Alfa Romeo Giulia, Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Cadillac CT4 or CT5, Genesis G70, Lexus IS, Volvo S60
Looks like: A baby S-Class … or a big A-Class (we suspect owners will prefer the former comparison)
Powertrain: Turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with electric assist to make 255 horsepower and 295 pounds-feet of torque, plus an extra 20 hp and 148 pounds-feet available for short bursts; nine-speed automatic transmission; rear- or all-wheel drive
Hits dealerships: Early 2022
Mercedes-Benz calls the C-Class its bestselling vehicle. The prior generation came as a sedan, wagon, coupe or convertible, depending on the market, with the reported fate of the two-door variants up in the air. Still, the sedan and wagon drove 2.5 million global sales over more than six calendar years on sale, according to Mercedes — and that’s despite U.S. shoppers not seeing a C-Class wagon since 2005 (no doubt to the grousing of many wagon fans who went and bought an SUV anyway).
Related: 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class: It’s What’s Inside That Counts
For 2022, the C-Class gets significant interior updates and changes under the hood, as well as subtler exterior changes that make it look more like both the S-Class flagship sedan and A-Class entry-level sedan.
Exterior: S-Class … or A-Class
The redesigned C-Class is larger in nearly every dimension, save for a slight decrease in height. It’s 2.6 inches longer with an inch-longer wheelbase, and track widths have increased by nearly an inch up front and almost 2 inches out back. The overall body is also about half an inch wider. Height decreases by almost half an inch, but that does not impact headroom, according to manufacturer-cited measurements.
Mercedes-Benz says it minimized exterior lines to enhance the appearance on those that remain, particularly the beltline crease just below the windows and power domes in the hood. The grille places the Mercedes star in its center, with either chrome accents or, if you get an optional AMG Line package, chrome for the star and surrounding elements. Eighteen- or 19-inch wheels are available.
In back, the sculpted rear styling features two-piece taillights for the first time on the C-Class. Overall, the look is very much that of a small S-Class or big A-Class.
Interior: Very Much a Small S-Class
In terms of design, the standout interior pieces are a standard 12.3-inch digital instrument panel and tablet-oriented 11.9 center display. The bad news, if you’re a stickler for physical controls like many consumers, is that there appear to be very few in the entire dashboard. Controls mounted on the steering wheel are all capacitive-touch, and most of the other functions are controlled through the center tablet display.
To counteract that, Mercedes has added the latest version of its MBUX multimedia system, which features what the brand calls robust voice command control, sometimes not even requiring the “Hey Mercedes” prompt depending on the function. (We’d still rather have volume and tuning knobs, or at least the added option.) Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, both wireless, are standard.
To create the feel of a driver-focused cabin, Mercedes angled the dashboard and center display slightly toward the driver. MBUX also has user profiles that can be activated by voice control or a fingerprint scanner, protecting the available payment information used for the Mercedes Me service as well as any other personal information, such as recent or saved destinations and email messages.
The exterior’s dimensional changes generally carry over to the inside, with most measurements increasing and no major dimensions diminishing. Front legroom remains unchanged from the previous model, with driver headroom increasing by only 0.1 inch. Every other measurement of leg-, elbow- and shoulder room increases by at least half an inch. Cargo volume is also unchanged, at a Mercedes-claimed 17.9 cubic feet.
Under the Hood: Four for Now
As with the previous C-Class, the C300 will offer a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder gas engine that’s rated at the same 255 horsepower. Unlike its predecessor, the engine now includes a 48-volt mild-hybrid integrated starter-generator, as well as a redesigned turbocharger borrowing technology used on the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One racecars. The engine now produces 295 pounds-feet of torque, up from 273. Thanks to the addition of the starter-generator, an extra 20 hp and 148 pounds-feet are available on demand for “short periods.”
Mercedes says the updated four-cylinder will hustle either the rear- or all-wheel-drive C300 from 0-60 mph in 5.9 seconds, slightly slower than the outgoing C300’s 5.7 seconds, while improving fuel economy. As of now, we don’t know how much more efficient the new C-Class will be, however. A new nine-speed automatic transmission, which Mercedes says is smaller and 30% lighter, also aims to help improve the efficiency of the redesigned sedan.
The 2022 C-Class also gets new suspension components, and those who opt for the AMG Line will get a sport suspension for improved driving dynamics. No details were shared on any higher-performance versions of the C-Class marketed under Mercedes-AMG, but given their widespread availability elsewhere in the Mercedes lineup, it’s a smart bet they’ll trickle out for the redesigned C-Class sedan in the months to come.
Safety Tech Somewhat Standard
Standard safety features on the new C-Class include automatic forward emergency braking, a blind spot warning system, a driver attention monitor and the Mercedes Pre-Safe pre-collision system. Optional features come mostly via the Driver Assistance Package, which adds adaptive cruise control, lane-centering steering, active braking assist with detection for cross-traffic and oncoming traffic, active parking assist with a 360-degree camera system and more. A head-up display is also optional. Buyers who opt for the augmented video navigation system also get a forward-facing, windshield-mounted camera that can function as a dashcam.
Pricing and Release Date
The 2022 C300 is expected to arrive in early 2022, with pricing likely announced closer to its on-sale date. The outgoing C300 sedan started at $42,650 (including destination) but could swing well past $50,000 with factory options, and that was before getting to any Mercedes-AMG editions.
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