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First drive: 2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon. Image by Mercedes-Benz.

First drive: 2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon
The new C-Class is here, and this 300d is the most powerful diesel-powered option, but is it dirty or delightful?

   



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2022 Mercedes-Benz C 300d Saloon

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The Mercedes-Benz C-Class is perhaps the most important car in the Three-Pointed Star's range. A smash hit with customers up and down the country, it has made its name with a combination of style, comfort and luxury. Now there's a new model, which promises more of the same, but with extra lashings of efficiency and technology. We tried the 300d diesel model to find out what's what.

Test Car Specifications

Model: 2022 Mercedes-Benz C300d AMG Line Saloon Premium Plus
Price: £54,505 (as tested)
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel mild-hybrid
Transmission: nine-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power: 265hp
Torque: 550Nm
Emissions: 139g/km
Economy/Range: 53.3-55.4mpg
0-62mph: 5.7 seconds
Top speed: 155mph
Boot space: 455 litres

Styling

Mercedes-Benz has brought the C-Class into line with the remainder of the Mercedes-Benz range, with narrower headlights and less curvaceous lines. It looks more athletic than before, with that downturned grille and squat rear end. Even the estate, with its more practical rear end, manages to look sporty and classy in equal measure, but the four-door saloon is the more complete design. And in AMG Line Premium Plus guise, with the bigger wheels and sporty styling, it looks even meaner.

Interior

The new C-Class cabin is a work of art. Dominated by a new-look steering wheel with six spokes and a portrait-orientated infotainment screen, it's a striking and stylish place to sit. Soft leather upholstery, jet-inspired air vents and smooth haptic buttons have become commonplace on Mercedes-Benz products, and the C-Class delivers by the bucketful. It's modern, classy and cool, and that's before we even get to the infotainment features.

Not only is there a sharp, beautifully designed touchscreen, but the C-Class also comes with a digital instrument cluster as standard, giving the driver a clear and smart overview of what the car is doing. It brings the Mercedes right up there with the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series when it comes to design, but it isn't the easiest thing to use. The haptic steering wheel buttons just take a little getting used to.

Practicality

The four-door saloon is alive and kicking in this part of the market, and the C-Class goes toe-to-toe with its main rivals, the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4, when it comes to practicality. The 455-litre boot space is only a handful of litres down on the BMW and Audi, and the rear passenger space is equally competitive. Very tall back-seat passengers will be better served by the estate version with its slightly higher roofline, but most will be more than happy with the saloon.

Performance

The new C-Class comes with a choice of engines, all of which seem smaller than ever before. Basic cars now use a 1.5-litre petrol engine to churn out 204hp, while the diesels are all 2.0-litre engines (as opposed to the old 2.1-litre units). Thereís also a plug-in hybrid that combines the basic Ď200í engine with an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack that gives it a 70-mile electric range.

We tested the more powerful of the two diesel engines, the Ď300dí, and found it not only rapid enough, but incredibly efficient and surprisingly smooth. With 265hp, performance is more than adequate, and economy of well over 50mpg is hugely impressive for something so fast. On a long journey, we were getting more like 60mpg, and the figures suggest the less powerful C220d could achieve that regularly.

Of course, the 2.0-litre engines donít sound great Ė theyíre four-cylinder turbocharged diesels, after all Ė but they donít make too much noise. A 3.0-litre, six-cylinder diesel would be lovely, but you barely hear the C 300dís engine unless you put your foot down, and the ample power means you donít need to put your foot down very often.

Ride & Handling

The old C-Class was incredibly comfortable, but it didn't have the same verve as the BMW 3 Series when it came to handling. Mercedes-Benz has clearly tried to rectify that, but in doing so the C-Class has lost some of the ride quality that made it so good in the first place.

In Mercedes' defence, the handling characteristics have improved. All C-Classes come with rear-wheel-drive and silky nine-speed automatic gearboxes, which make them well balanced and smooth, while the stiffened suspension makes for a little more poise in corners. It still isn't a match for the 3 Series, but it's better than the front-drive A4 and it's closer to the BMW than ever before.

The catch is the ride, which isn't as supple as it was in the old C-Class. Admittedly, our test car was fitted with big wheels and the AMG Line gubbins, but it still thwacked into potholes a little more than we'd like. It was alright on long journeys, and it settled nicely at higher speeds, but around town and on country roads it felt a little too stiff.

Value

Mercedes-Benz C-Class prices start from just under £40,000, but that only gets you the base-spec Sport model. Our test car, in high-end AMG Line Premium Plus guise, came with a whopping £54,505 asking price, thanks in no small part to its 2.0-litre diesel engine. But it came with plenty of equipment for that money, including 19-inch alloy wheels, a head-up display and a panoramic glass sunroof. It had four-zone climate control, too, as well as things common to lowlier models, including leather upholstery, satellite navigation and the digital instrument display.

Verdict

The new C-Class is a very competent luxury saloon car with a gorgeous interior, striking looks and impressive fuel economy. It drives better than it did before, and it feels much more modern, yet somehow it lacks the distinctive feel that made the old C-Class so good. By focusing more on dynamic capability and less on comfort, the hugely popular Mercedes has lost its USP.



James Fossdyke - 1 Aug 2022



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2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon. Image by Mercedes-Benz.

2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon. Image by Mercedes-Benz.







 

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