by Aiden Eksteen
In a class where vehicles are meant to be all things to all people, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Audi are possibly the first nameplates that come to mind, with those brands having pioneered the compact luxury sedan segment that has existed nearly five decades. Popularity is pretty well spread through each of those brands but with some new enhancements and alterations of the C-Class Sedan, Mercedes has made a good effort in improving its overall appeal. The rear-wheel-drive and 4MATIC all-wheel-drive systems of the 2019 C300 twins are now powered by 255 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque sourced from a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-pot motor that's mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. Appeal for the C-Class Sedan has increased favorably with its mid-cycle refresh, but it's still aging compared to the newer, better 3 Series, having been released originally back in 2014. Can the C-Class hold on against more contemporary rivals, or is it outgunned by opposition found more relevant by younger audiences?
The C-Class Sedan receives a prominent mid-cycle facelift for the 2019 model year along with some powertrain enhancements and extended driver assistance features borrowed from the E-Class. Along with its redesigned front and rear fascias, the C300 models also now come fitted with LED headlights and taillights as standard, both of which have also been restyled. The 2019 C300 has also been equipped with a new, slightly more powerful and efficient engine, increasing peak outputs by 14 horsepower. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality are now standard in every C300 along with Mercedes-Benz's Intelligent Drive suite of driver aids. Mojave Silver Metallic has been added to the exterior color palette and 17-inch twin five-spoke alloy wheels are now available as a cost-inclusive option.
See trim levels and configurations:
The underpinnings of the C300 are tuned to deliver more of a sophisticated ride quality than a sporty one. Its softly-tuned suspension makes short work of most common road imperfections and everyday undulations without compromising on the sedan's overall composure. The cabin is also effectively isolated from most road, engine, and wind noise, adding to the overall feeling of refinement and luxury. There are selectable drive modes in the C300: the Eco and Comfort modes keep things comfortably sedate, while the Sport and Sport+ modes are meant to sharpen throttle responses and tighten up the mechanics for a sportier drive - but there's really little difference made in improving driver engagement.
The C300's numb steering also takes away from the driver's experience, with very little feedback provided. There's not much confidence ceded to the driver to push the car at all. Its responses are otherwise accurate and smooth and the weighting adjusted according to the drive mode or speed the C300 is moving at - light at low speeds for easy maneuvering and tight at higher speeds for added control. Though its suspension is softly tuned, it still manages to remain firmly planted to the road and suitably stable when taken around long corners and sharp turns. Overall, it's clear that Mercedes-Benz focused the C300's ride toward luxury as opposed to athleticism, so those looking for a little more performance and handling capability should rather look to something like the BMW 3 Series to get their kicks.
NHTSA safety ratings are not available at this time.
The C-Class Sedan would be an appealing daily for anyone that's loyal to the Mercedes-Benz badge and can look beyond the C-Class' relatively high starting price. There's plenty of value to be found in the C-Class Sedan, with its exceptional build quality, premium features, and in-cabin materials that justify its premium price. It's a shame that the C-Class Sedan doesn't come fitted with the 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen that every other C-Class variant gets as standard, but the upgrade is available and the base system that the Sedan does come with, does feature full smartphone integration as standard. It also comes outfitted with an array of stock-fitted safety and advanced driver-assist features, with a large selection optionally available too, which, along with its exceptional crashworthiness safety ratings make it a brilliant commuter and family vehicle, too. When it comes to the C-Class' ride quality and performance, you won't go wrong if you are looking for a relaxed, comfortable drive - if you want more performance, you will need to look to the AMG derivatives. But if you need a comfy luxurious sedan for more sedate driving, you won't regret buying the C300.
The C-Class and 3 Series are both exceptional vehicles, and while they're two compact luxury sedans that have a lot in common, the differences that they do have are significant. The C-Class is the more luxury-oriented vehicle, focusing predominantly on driver and passenger comfort in ride quality and features. The 3 Series, on the other hand, offers far greater driver engagement and superior performance and handling dynamics. Its engine is a little more powerful than the C-Class' as well, with a bit more torque offered at peak output. Furthermore, both the 3 Series' powertrain setups are a lot more fuel-efficient than the C-Class'. The C-Class is also a little more expensive than the 3 Series, but it has the more premium cabin and comes with a significantly greater selection of standard features. Even so, the 3 Series has a slightly more spacious interior and a far more practical trunk, with 17 cu.ft. of cargo room on offer. Overall the BMW 3 Series is just a little better than the C-Class in many aspects and while being the more driver-centric car, it still delivers a premium level of comfort too.
At the base level, the Audi A4 is a whole lot more affordable than the C-Class and still manages to offer an impressive level of feature specification as standard. There's also a lot more trim and specification options available within the A4's lineup, which may appeal to some in terms of personalization and customization opportunities. The C-Class has the more premium interior, however, that none of the A4 trims can come close to. The C-Class has more in-cabin room although the A4's interior feels more commodious due to an ergonomic design, with seemingly more stretch-room in the rear. There's a minuscule amount more cargo room in the trunk of the A4 as well. The A4 offers a little more performance-wise in acceleration and handling while also remaining a slightly more fuel-efficient at the same time. It's also luxuriously comfortable in ride and passenger creature-comforts, just not quite to the degree of the C-Class. Both vehicles are exceptional, but the C-Class is just a little posher overall.
The most popular competitors of 2019 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sedan: