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2023 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Review: One sedan to do it all

Pros: Classy styling; tech powerhouse; ultra-smooth powertrains

Cons: Learning curve to all that tech; on the expensive side

The 2023 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is as well-rounded as it gets for a compact luxury sedan. Mercedes’ lineup of C-Class variants may not be as wide-ranging as it was before the 2022 redesign, but the C is still going to appeal to most folks searching for a bit of luxury. S-Class-inspired tech and design always elevates the C-Class, and the similarities are unmistakable once again with this generation. The massive MBUX infotainment system and wide array of optional tech features may be a bit overwhelming at first, but nobody offers as much futuristic tech as Mercedes does. Both the exterior and interior design are simple but decidedly upscale with, once again, tech playing at the forefront.

Driving the C-Class leaves no mistake that it’s one of the best luxury sedans money can buy. The ride and handling balance of the C 300 toes the line between sumptuous and sporty, just the way we’d expect from an entry-level model in this class. It’s not the sportiest amongst its competitors — the BMW 3 Series is still better to drive — but any enthusiast will find joy in the way it comports itself on the road. Per usual when it comes to Mercedes-Benz products, the C-Class finds its home at the top of the class in most areas, and assuming you can afford one, we highly recommend it.

Interior & Technology   |   Passenger & Cargo Space   |   Performance & Fuel Economy

What it’s like to drive   |   Pricing & Trim Levels   |   Crash Ratings & Safety Features

 

What’s new for 2023?

Mercedes adds the AMG C 43 variant to the lineup for 2023 (seen in the gallery directly above). We haven’t driven the mid-tier AMG model as of this story’s publishing, but it’s going to add a potent dose of performance to the otherwise one-horse C-Class lineup. No changes for the C 300 model are outlined as of now.

What are the C-Class’ interior and in-car technology like?

The C-Class borrows heavily (to its advantage) from the recently redesigned S-Class. Generously bolstered seats integrate pivoting headrests on single posts, with a range of interior colors and treatments — a racy red-and-black combo, or brick-like AMG Sienna Brown with natural wood pinstriped with real aluminum. Ambient lighting decorates the doors, dash and aircraft-inspired metal vents with a choice of 64 colors. Architects would dig the cantilevered armrests and “floating,” light-rimmed door-control housings. A three-spoke steering wheel looks as good as it feels, as do bright-metal paddle shifters as cool and polished as river stones.

The 11.9-inch MBUX infotainment system, despite the improvements gleaned from the bigger screen, still requires a first-time learning curve. But once your steering-wheel thumbs and brain are trained, MBUX really is a nifty — and undeniably eye-popping — way of navigating today’s data-heavy automotive landscape. The option of adopting the new “Zero Layer” home screen design first seen on the EQS smartly avoids digging into distracting menus. It keeps a map view in sight at all times, flanked by main “module” tiles and individualized “magic modules” controlled by machine learning of a driver’s history and behavior. The optional Augmented Reality nav still amazes, superimposing directional arrows, street signs and even addresses over a real-time camera environment.

How big is the C-Class?

Mercedes stretched the redesigned 2022 model by 2.5 inches to 187 inches (just shy of an Audi A4 or Cadillac CT4, and 1.3 longer than a BMW 3 Series), with a 1-inch-longer wheelbase. It’s roughly a half-inch wider and lower than the previous generation, too. There’s added shoulder and elbow room front and rear, nearly an inch more rear legroom, and 0.4-inches more rear headroom despite the lower roofline. This means the rear seat is spacious, but not extravagant for adults. It’s very similar to its closest competitor, the 3 Series. A standard, clamshell-style panoramic sunroof boosts the spacious impression, too.

Split rear seats fold via switches in the trunk to open up more versatile space. The trunk is large and accommodating for its class, even if the 12.6 cubic-feet doesn’t sound like a lot.

What are the C-Class’ fuel economy and performance specs?

The base C 300 model is fitted with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 255 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. This powertrain integrates a 48-volt mild-hybrid system that supplies temporary yet potent bursts of up to 20 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent through a nine-speed automatic transmission, and you have the choice of either rear-wheel drive or 4Matic all-wheel drive — Mercedes quotes the same 6.0-second 0-60 mph time from both. Fuel economy is an impressive 25 mpg city, 35 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined with rear-wheel drive. Those figures tick down to 23/33/27 with 4Matic.

The Mercedes-AMG C 43 variant sports a hand-built 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 402 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque – it’s the first production car ever built with an electric turbocharger. A nine-speed multi-clutch transmission does the shifting, and Mercedes promises a 0-60 mph time of just 4.6 seconds. All-wheel drive is the only drive configuration, and fuel economy wasn’t available at this story’s publishing.

What’s the C-Class like to drive?

The new turbo four-cylinder engine and 48-volt mild-hybrid system in the C 300 may not scorch a spec sheet, but the powertrain is pure luxury to drive. There’s plenty of torque to be punchy around town, and the seamless integration of the mild-hybrid system makes for one of the most pleasant day-to-day driving experiences you can have at this price point. That 0-60 time of 6.0 seconds is conservative, too, as the C-Class gets up and moves out enthusiastically when you want it to. We’ve zero complaints about the transmission, as well, as it shifts imperceptibly in the background in the way a true luxury sedan should.

Call up “Sport” mode, and the C 300 shows it’ll dance around corners just as happily as it sops up bad pavement. The steering is well weighted, and the suspension maintains composure even when you start to lean on it fairly hard. A BMW 3 Series or Acura TLX still out-handle the C-Class this generation, but not by a longshot. The duality of this luxury sedan is a lot of what makes it so appealing, even in standard C 300 trim.

We’ve yet to drive the C 43, but will add impressions for the AMG model once we do.

What other C-Class reviews can I read?

2022 Mercedes C-Class First Drive Review | Junior suite Benz

Read all about our first shot in the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

 

2023 Mercedes-AMG C 43 revealed with 402-horsepower four-cylinder

Mercedes splashes some performance magic onto the C-Class in the form of an AMG C 43.

 

What is the 2023 C-Class’ price?

Pricing for 2023 isn’t out yet, but we expect C 300 pricing to be similar to prices in 2022. Mercedes is using its simplified lineup strategy for the C-Class, and it offers three distinct trim lines — Premium, Exclusive and Pinnacle — with far fewer à la carte options. A C 300 Premium started at $44,600 in 2022. This includes a lot of great standard features like LED headlights/taillights, 18-inch wheels, sunroof, heated front seats w/memory, the 11.9-inch infotainment system and 12.3-inch digital cluster and a whole host of driver assistance feature that we’ll detail in the next section.

What are the C-Class’ safety ratings and driver assistance features?

The redesigned C-Class has yet to be independently crash tested by either the NHTSA or Insurance Institute for Highway Safety yet, but the previous model scored very well, receiving an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award. 

The C-Class comes with a couple of driver assistance systems standard, including blind spot warning (with exit warning assist) and auto high beams. However, most of the driver assistance systems you can get on the C-Class are optional. This long list includes auto emergency braking (w/turning and cross-traffic assistance), adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, evasive steering assist, auto-lane change assist, active blind spot assist (guides you back to lane if accident is imminent), surround view camera, front/rear parking sensors and auto parallel/perpendicular parking.

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