We have long praised the Mercedes C-Class for having one of the most luxurious interiors in its class, but a stiff ride prevented it from joining the very top players in its segment. Newly refreshed for 2019, we tested the C 300 again to see how it has changed.
Although the previous version never felt underpowered, Mercedes equips the 2.0-liter turbo-four with 14 extra horses this year. The C 300 now makes 255 hp, and torque holds steady at 273 lb-ft. Peak horsepower arrives later from 5,800-6,100 rpm instead of 5,500 rpm, while peak torque is now at 1,800-4,000 rpm instead of 1,300-4,000 rpm.
The extra horsepower contributes to a noticeable improvement in acceleration from 0—60 mph. We clocked the C 300 hitting 60 mph in 5.5 seconds, making it half a second quicker than a 2017C-Class we tested. A 2017 BMW 330i also hit the mark in 5.5 seconds, although we have yet to test the completely redesigned 2019 model. Our Mercedes tester was quicker than a 2017 Lexus IS 200t F Sport (7.0 seconds, and since renamed the IS 300) and a 2019 Genesis G70 2.0T (7.4 seconds). But it was slower than a 2017 Audi A4 2.0T Quattro (5.2 seconds).
The quick throttle response makes the C 300 feel sprightly off the line. Unlike some luxury cars, the driving mode you select makes a difference. When accelerating from a stop, you’ll notice the sharp throttle response of Sport+ mode as your head gets sucked into the headrest, and the suspension is noticeably sharper. Like the previous model, the ride is firm for a luxury cruiser, even in Comfort mode. Still, the refreshed C-Class doesn’t conjure up the same feelings of brittleness as the old version.
The updated 2019 Mercedes C 300 also made progress in the quarter-mile, with a time of 14.1 seconds at 99.9 mph, compared to 14.5 seconds at 96.1 mph with the old Benz. The new number is up there with the BMW (14.2 at 98.5) and Audi (14.0 at 98.2). And it’s markedly better than the Genesis (15.7 at 91.7 mph) and Lexus (15.4 at 89.9).
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But the Benz underperformed in the figure eight, at least compared to rivals. It completed the task in 27.7 seconds at an average 0.63 g. In comparison, the BMW rounded the bends in 26.1 seconds at 0.71 g, while the Lexus performed similarly at 26.3 seconds at 0.69 g. Genesis creamed the competition with a time of 25.6 seconds at 0.69 g, while the Audi managed 26.3 seconds at 0.69 g. Even the pre-refresh C 300 performed better than the new version with a time of 25.7 seconds at 0.71 g. Although road test editor Chris Walton liked the engine and transmission, he called the non-defeatable stability control an “exercise in frustration.” Worth noting—the 2017 model we tested was a sport-trimmed car with a more aggressive wheel and tire package.
Although an adept sprinter and runner, the C 300 could benefit from a few yoga classes. Steering doesn’t feel particularly nimble at low to moderate speeds. You have to turn the steering wheel a bit more than desired to achieve a targeted movement, although the wheel can feel heavy as if to give the impression of sportiness. That said, this car’s small size permits easy three-point turns.
The Benz impressed in our Real MPG test. We recorded 24.5/40.3 mpg city/highway, up from the EPA rating of 23/34 mpg. By every measure, that’s ahead of our Real MPG numbers for the Audi (22.1/35.2 mpg) and Lexus (20.4/31.1 mpg). Its highway and combined numbers are also higher than the BMW (24.7/33.9 mpg) and Genesis (25.1/34.5 mpg), although lagging slightly behind in the city.
One thing hasn’t changed: The C 300’s interior is still the best part of the vehicle. And it’s slightly more posh than before since it features a new optional 10.3-inch center display that improves upon the old smaller screen. That said, it’s too bad the refreshed C-Class doesn’t have the new MBUX infotainment that’s standard on the much less expensive A-Class. That infotainment setup gets a new speech interface that can learn via artificial intelligence, as well as touch controls on the screen and center console. Instead of a touchscreen, the C-Class’ infotainment system responds to inputs via a rotary knob.
And unlike the A-Class that makes the instrument cluster and infotainment system look like one large display, the C-Class’ gauge cluster is separate from the main central screen. But at least the fully digital 12.3-inch instrument optional display looks sharp and has easy-to-use thumb pad controls for scrolling through the menus. Meanwhile, the center display benefits from crisp graphics, and the rear camera provides an exceptionally clear view of the surroundings, day or night.
If you’re wondering what features are standard on the C 300, highlights include dual-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers, a five-speaker audio system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, LED headlights and taillights, and automatic emergency braking. Many stand-out goodies are optional, including 64-color ambient interior lighting, a head-up display, a Burmester surround sound system, and a driver assistance package with evasive steering assist, active lane change assist, lane keeping assist, and steering and distance assist. In all, our model rang out to $58,905, well above the $42,395 starting price. For the premium price, you receive an improved car: a powerful, fuel-efficient sedan with one of the most luxurious interiors in its class.
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