Some entry-luxury cars are too sporty and others are too soft, but Mercedes-Benz’s C-class falls in the sweet spot. It even earned a spot on our Editors' Choice list. In its standard C300 form, it combines a quiet and comfortable ride with just the right amount of handling acuity—and if you want more power and performance, Mercedes offers the AMG C43 and C63 models, which we review separately. The C300 is available in sedan, coupe, and convertible models. Although the current generation is nearing the end of its life cycle, it still has plenty of modern technology, and its interior and exterior designs have aged well. A redesigned C-class is expected to arrive within the next year or so.
What's New for 2021?
A 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster is newly standard across the board, as are heated front seats. Plus, the sedan can be had with a Night package that adds black exterior trim.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
Unless you desire an open-air experience or the extra style of the coupe, the sedan is the most sensible and satisfying of the C-class models. The C300 comes standard with rear-wheel drive; Benz's 4Matic all-wheel-drive system is a $2000 option. Of the many available extras, we’d consider the $1500 Premium package, which adds SiriusXM satellite radio, an upgraded audio system, and ambient lighting. But beware that many of the option packages are bundled together and can push the price of a sedan well beyond $50,000.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
A turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine powers all C300 models and generates 255 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque, getting the Mercedes off the line without delay. A nine-speed automatic transmission performs shifting duties. Rear-wheel drive is standard, but you can get all-wheel drive (called 4Matic) for two grand more. In our testing of a C300 4Matic sedan, the car hit 60 mph in a sprightly 5.4 seconds. The engine is appropriately muted at idle and at highway speeds, but its soundtrack at full throttle is less pleasing than you'd expect. In our recent comparison test of entry-luxury sports sedans, the C300’s acceleration results put it about midpack, as the BMW 330i and Alfa Romeo Giulia 2.0T were quicker.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The most fuel-efficient choice in the C-class lineup is the rear-drive C300, with EPA ratings of 24 mpg city and 33 mpg highway, but the 4Matic isn’t far behind, managing 23 and 33 mpg, respectively. Rivals such as the BMW 3-series offer better fuel economy (up to 26 mpg city and 36 mpg highway). A rear-drive C300 coupe we tested achieved a real-world result of 33 mpg on the highway—2 mpg better than its EPA rating.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The look and feel of the C-class cabin is appropriately ritzy, although it’s not as modern-looking as some of the newer models in Mercedes lineup, such as the recently redesigned S-class. A touchscreen hovers above a sleek center stack that hosts three circular air vents. The switchgear feels weighty and substantial, and opting for the available leather upholstery and wood interior accents takes the cabin even further uptown. Sedans offer 13 cubic feet of trunk space. That figure is on par with the cargo capacity of the Audi A4, but it's a lot less than you'll get with the BMW 3-series, which delivers 17 cubic feet.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Mercedes-Benz equips the base C-class with a 7.0-inch central display screen, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. Dual USB ports are standard, along with HD radio and a five-speaker sound system. If you want a bit more screen space, you can upgrade to a 10.3-inch central color display. Other options include a Burmester surround-sound audio system and an integrated navigation system.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz C-class hasn't yet been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), but the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) named it a Top Safety Pick +, earning a top score of Good in all crashworthiness measures. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking
- Available lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist
- Available adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
The Mercedes-Benz C-class provides a warranty that's on par with the coverage offered by many of its rivals. Keep in mind, though, that you'll get longer warranty protection with the Genesis G70.
- Limited warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- No complimentary scheduled maintenance