C-Class has been the mainstay of the Benz range for years.
And, despite the popularity and growing number of SUVs, it continues to shine as the biggest seller in a range that now comprises more than 20 models.
Diversity has kept the car relevant, with a sedan, coupe, wagon and convertible available, along with various power trains including the sledgehammer 500kW AMG C 63 S 4MATIC+ sports sedan.
It all comes together in a heady, amazing mix of style and technology which will take your breath away. So could the price — up to $15,000 more than the previous model.
What’s it cost?
Prices start from $81,700 for the C 200 Sedan.
Our test vehicle, the more expensive, more powerful C 300 sedan, is priced from $93,500 plus on-roads.
But that’s not the end of the story with a mind-boggling list of options and — just quietly — not many Benzs leave the dealership without at least some of the boxes ticked.
The process can see the price of the car rise quickly and dramatically — none are strictly necessary however.
The test car was fitted with the $3800 Vision Pack plus Cavansite Blue Metallica paint at $1600, taking the price to $98,900.
The pack adds a sunroof, seat memory and heating, head-up display, traffic sign recognition and augmented reality for navigation.
Once upon a time C-Class came with a choice of classic or dynamic styles, with a different radiator to match.
Now the AMG Line exterior package is standard and comes with a body kit and bold new diamond grille with star design in chrome (little Benz three-pointed stars).
LED headlights include headlight assist and adaptive high beam assist, while the optional digital light package uses 1.3 million micro-mirrors per headlight for extremely high definition output.
The rear-end features new tail lights with a two-piece design, with light functions divided between the outside and boot-lid lights.
Three optional new paint finishes – Spectral Blue, High-Tech Silver and Opalite White – have been added to the colour palette.
The instrument panel has become a free-standing, 12.3-inch high-resolution that sits behind the wheel, with a variety of colours and configurations from which to choose.
Australian models reportedly benefit from a higher level of standard equipment, including a number of features that were previously unavailable or optional.
Features include AMG Line exterior and interior packages, 11.9-inch central media display, 360 degree camera, keyless entry and start with automatic powered boot closing, front centre airbag, fingerprint scanner and active safety systems including adaptive cruise control.
C 300 adds a more powerful drivetrain, with full leather trim, larger 19-inch AMG multi-spoke two-colour alloys and rear privacy glass.
Inside there’s sporty AMG Line trim and floor mats, plus 64-colour ambient lighting, an illuminated front door sill with ‘Mercedes-Benz’ lettering, keyless entry and start and dual-zone climate control.
The second generation Mercedes-Benz User eXperience (MBUX) infotainment system is a stunner, fronted by an 11.9-inch, portrait-style touchscreen.
It includes Bluetooth, voice recognition, built-in navigation, AM/FM and DAB+ digital radio, plus wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
When following the navigation, a forward-facing camera creates an augmented view on the centre screen, which is basically video of the road ahead with an arrow superimposed to follow.
The display includes an ergonomically placed fingerprint scanner for secure and easy access to different profiles.
You can also access the infotainment system via a console-mounted touchpad, or track pads embedded in the multi-function sports-styled steering wheel.
There are two USB-C ports in the centre console and another at the bottom of the dashboard next to the wireless charging pad – but none in the back.
There’s no mention of the audio system, either in the sales brochure, specifications or technical data.
Guess it’s generic or perhaps another victim of the global components shortage.
At this price, you’d expect and demand a name brand.
A comprehensive standard safety suite includes 10 airbags, including a centre-front airbag for the first time.
Autonomous emergency braking (Car-to-Car, Vulnerable Road User, Junction Assist and Backover) as well as a lane support system with lane keep assist (LKA), lane departure warning (LDW) and emergency lane keeping (ELK), and an advanced speed assistance system (SAS) are standard.
There’s also adaptive cruise control, drowsiness monitoring, a 360 degree camera and active parking assistance with park sensors.
C-Class is covered by a 5-year unlimited kilometre warranty.
Service is due every 12 months or 25,000km and the first five years will set you back $5200.
What’s it go like?
At 4793mm in length, the C-Class is 107mm longer than before, with a 25mm longer wheelbase, which in theory means more room inside.
Entry C 200 is powered by a 150kW 1 .5-litre turbo hybrid.
Our C 300 gets a larger more powerful turbocharged petrol engine together with a electric motor/48-volt starter-generator sandwiched between the engine and transmission that provides up to 15kW and 200Nm at low speeds.
The hybrid system is designed to provide assistance at low engine speeds and to provide significant fuel savings, but it cannot be driven in electric-only mode.
It’s paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission and delivers 190kW of power at 5800 rpm and 400Nm of torque between 2000 and 3200 rpm, with overboost providing an extra 20kW briefly.
Drive is to the rear wheels, with paddle shifts, auto engine stop-start and four drive modes available.
The dash from 0 to 100km/h takes a brisk 6.0 seconds.
It takes the good stuff too, premium 98 unleaded, with fuel consumption a claimed 7.3L/100km.
The interior of the C-Class is a masterclass in style and technology.
There’s elements of the old, the in-between and the new emerging age.
The eye-catching Tesla-style vertically mounted touchscreen flows seamlessly into the centre console.
Did I say eye-catching? If it wasn’t for the second smaller screen that replaces a conventional instrument panel, it would dominate the cabin.
At night the whole thing lights up like a Christmas tree. In fact, it could be a little too over-the-top, especially for techno-challenged pre-millennials.
It could do with an off switch.
Touch sensitive controls (they’re found everywhere) are tricky to operate and functions can be difficult to find — the trip computer is a case in point.
The column-mounted gear lever is something of a throwback, but it’s easy to operate and paves the way for the clutter-free console.
At the same time we were left wondering what would happen if one accidentally selected reverse while driving, thinking it was the indicator stalk?
We weren’t game to find out (but there must be some kind of lockout).
The back seat is deep and inviting, but is surprisingly lacking for legroom, even though this model has a slightly longer wheelbase.
Those in the back get air vents and a fold down centre armrest, but little else to speak of — charge ports would be nice?
The boot is a good size at 455 litres and has a power operated boot lid.
Arriving home for the first time the car slammed on the brakes, believing we were about to run into the back of the car already in the driveway.
We must have been going a little too quickly for the system — it scared the bejesus out of us.
A button at the end of the gear lever puts the car into Park, but it’s not clear whether this engages the electric parking brake — the indicator comes on only when you turn off the car.