The C-class may be the entry-level coupe in the Mercedes-Benz lineup, but it still channels the style and presence of its pricier siblings. Even the base C300 looks elegant and purposeful. There’s no letdown inside, either, as all C-class coupes have beautifully trimmed cabins that look every bit as polished as the exterior. The turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder is powerful but a bit coarse to our ears. In our testing, a C300 with all-wheel drive (rear-wheel drive is standard) went from zero to 60 mph in a zippy 5.5 seconds. From the soft leather seats to the glimmering wood trim, there’s nothing entry-level about the way this Editors’ Choice coupe looks and feels.
Gateway models sometimes fall well short of their more expensive counterparts in a luxury automaker’s lineup, but that isn’t the case with the C-class. This relatively affordable Benz bears pleasing similarities to the storied S-class and it delivers this goodness at a reasonable price. Its cabin is chic and opulent, and its handling is crisp and engaging. Sedan, coupe, and convertible body styles are offered. The C300 is no slouch in the fun department, but those seeking a little extra kick will want to investigate the AMG variants, which step things up significantly when it comes to performance. We review those models, the C43 and C63 separately.
What’s New for 2020?
For the 2020 model year, the Mercedes-Benz C-class adds blind-spot monitoring as standard equipment on all models.
We imagine that the sedan body style will be the practical choice for most C-class buyers. It comes standard with appealing exterior features such as rain-sensing windshield wipers, automatic LED headlights, and heated power-adjustable side-view mirrors with auto-dimming and power-folding capability. Within the cabin, there is Bluetooth connectivity, power-adjustable front seats with memory settings, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration, and keyless entry and ignition.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
With all C300 and C300 4Matic models, a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is standard, and it generates 255 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. A nine-speed automatic transmission performs gearshifting duties. Rear-wheel drive is standard; trims with 4Matic in their monikers come with all-wheel drive. The engine gets this Mercedes off the line without delay. In our testing of a rear-drive coupe, it motivated the C300 from zero to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds. It’s appropriately muted at idle and at highway speeds, but its soundtrack at full throttle is less pleasing than you’d expect. The powerplant puts the C-class sedan on par with the Alfa Romeo Giulia 2.0T in quickness and a tad behind the Audi A4. The transmission complements the engine nicely, providing intuitive shifts.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The most fuel-efficient choice in the C-class lineup is the rear-drive C300 sedan, and the EPA estimates its fuel economy at 24/35 mpg city/highway. Rivals such as the BMW 3-series offer a better fuel economy (up to 26/36 mpg). The C300 4Matic sedan is rated at 23/33 mpg by the EPA. A rear-drive C300 coupe we tested achieved a real-world fuel economy 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 are appropriately ritzy, and its design is similar to that of its costlier sibling, the S-class. This is a good thing. In front, 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 take the cabin even further uptown. Sedans offer 13 cubic feet of trunk space. That figure is on par with the Audi A4’s cargo capacity, but it’s a lot less than you’ll get with the BMW 3-series, which delivers a whopping 17 cubic feet.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Mercedes-Benz equips the base-model C-class with infotainment amenities such as a 7.0-inch central display screen, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio, and Apple CarPlay/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 10.25-inch central color display. Other options include a Burmester surround-sound audio system and an integrated navigation system.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
The 2020 Mercedes-Benz C-class hasn’t yet been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). However, the 2019 model was an IHHS Top Safety-Pick, earning a top score of Good in all crashworthiness measures. Key safety features include:
- Standard driver-drowsiness monitor
- Standard blind-spot monitoring
- Available lane-keeping assistance
- Available surround-view camera