It's shrinking in the rear-view mirror now---those days of a decade or more ago when there was a perception that Mercedes' smallest sedan, the C-Class, was built to a price, not to a standard, and that it was either not a "real" Mercedes or at the very least, a "lesser" one.
Since then, the C-Class has been replaced as the "entry-level" Mercedes sedan by the A-Class, which we revealed more than two years ago absolutely upholds Mercedes-Benz' reputation for quality. I've been fortunate enough to drive just about every Benz except the G-Class SUV the past few years, and it's crystal clear that while there are smaller Mercedes, there are no lesser ones.
When you lift the hood of a 2022 Mercedes-Benz C 300, you'll find only one engine---a two-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder with mild hybrid drive. 255 horsepower, 295 lb-ft of torque and 60 miles per hour from a standing start in six seconds flat. There are really only two ways to order a C 300---with or without 4MATIC all-wheel drive.
Fit, finish and materials are all first-rate. And the base price for the C 300 4MATIC is a surprisingly low $45,550. That brings with it dual-zone automatic climate control, wireless Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto, power front heated seats with lumbar support, memory for driver seat, steering column and outside mirrors (which are power folding) a power sunroof, rain-sensing wipers, ambient lighting and a complete and comprehensive active safety suite.
We've said it before and we'll keep saying it as long as they keep doing it---European luxury marques offer a lot of extra-cost options that can inflate an otherwise reasonable sticker price. Our tester was no exception, with $750 for Starling Blue Metallic paint, $600 for 19-inch AMG multi-spoke wheels, $150 for illuminated door sill panels, $1,000 for a panoramic roof, $250 for a heated steering wheel, $350 for SiriusXM Satellite Radio with a free trial period, $300 for the advanced USB package, $150 for acoustic glass, $250 for enhanced ambient lighting, $200 for inductive wireless charging, $1,100 for the Digital Light Package (headlamps with projection function), $1,700 for the Multimedia Package (navigation, augmented video for navigation and head-up display), $650 for the Sound Package (a Burmester 3D surround sound system with online music streaming and sound personalization), $3,050 for the AMG Line with Night Package (AMG body styling, brushed aluminum sport pedals with rubber studs, MB-Tex dashboard, AMG floor mats, sport suspension, sport steering system, perforated front disc brakes with Mercedes-Benz calipers, high-gloss black element, front splitter, grille trim, rear diffuser, side mirrors and window trim), $1,950 for the Driver Assistance Package (adaptive cruise control, active steering assist, active lane change assist, active blind spot assist, active brake assist with cross-traffic function, evasive steering assist, active emergency stop assist, active speed limit assist, route0based speed adaptation, PRE-SAFE PLUS and PRE-SAFE Impulse side) and $950 for the DA.3 Package (parking pilot with surround view, PARKTRONIC with active parking assist). Got all that? Let me catch you up. With $1,050 destination and delivery charge, the as-tested price of the $45,550 2022 Mercedes-Benz C 300 4MATIC is an even $60,000.
Still a bargain? No. Worth it? Yes. Because, again, a C-Class isn't a lesser Mercedes, it's a smaller Mercedes. Automobiles shouldn't be bought by the foot or the pound, but by their quality. And the 2022 Mercedes-Benz C 300 4MATIC is one of the finest premium luxury sedans you can buy.