2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan C300 driving on a roadway

The redesigned Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan debuts a more aggressive look, a mild hybrid powertrain, and the latest technology for entertainment, convenience, and safety.

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The C-Class was once the entry to the Mercedes-Benz brand. With the emergence of smaller sedans like the A-Class and CLA—not to mention the GLA SUV—the C-Class has moved upmarket. We have good things to say about the current model, which has been on sale without any major changes since 2015, and hope that the updated model builds on that legacy.

We plan to buy our own C-Class when it goes on sale in the first half of 2022. After we live with the car and put it through a series of detailed evaluations at our 327-acre automobile testing facility, we’ll be able to tell you how it stacks up against other luxury compact cars.

What it competes with: Acura TLX, Alfa Romeo Giulia, Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Cadillac CT5, Genesis G70, Infiniti Q50, Lexus IS, Volvo S60
What it looks like: A swept-back sporty sedan
Powertrains: 255-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine; 9-speed automatic transmission; rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive
Price: $42,000-$65,000 (estimated)
On sale: early 2022

CR's Take

What was once a two-horse race—the BMW 3 Series vs. the Mercedes C-Class—has turned into a wide-open field that now includes practical compact SUVs and impressive offerings from other brands. The latest C-Class will likely appeal to those in the market for a tech-filled sedan with aggressive looks.

Outside

2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan C300 rear view driving on a roadway

The new C-Class is a similar size as the outgoing model, growing 2.5 inches longer and a few fractions of an inch taller and wider, but where the last C-Class had a softened and rounded look, minor design changes now accentuate the sedan’s aggressive proportions. Mercedes says the new C-Class has a “cab backward” design, which makes for a prominent hood and stubby trunk. The grille is angled forward, the headlights are swept rearward, and there are bulges on the hood to suggest power and forward movement. From the rear, the split taillights are reminiscent of the smaller A-Class.

We’ll have to wait a little longer to see the convertible and coupe versions of the C-Class, because only the sedan has had the wraps taken off so far.

Inside

2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan C300 interior controls

Mercedes says the interior of the C-Class follows in the footsteps of the new S-Class. The outgoing model’s combination of a small screen and buttons has been replaced by a vertically oriented screen that’s nearly a foot wide, with dedicated touch controls and sliders beneath it. It takes up much of the space between the driver and front passenger, and is positioned below vents. The gear selector is still located on the steering column; there’s only a concealed cup holder and a very wide center console beneath the screen.

There’s no volume knob—only a slider—although there are plenty of dedicated knobs and buttons on the steering wheel. As with other modern Benzes, the gauge cluster is an all-digital affair that can be highly customized.

Mercedes-Benz says the new C-Class features the latest version of the automaker’s MBUX infotainment software as standard equipment, which is currently available on the new flagship S-Class sedan. We hope it’s less complex than other versions of MBUX that we’ve used so far, but it does seem to have a lot of features. For example, even on the base "Premium" trim level, a fingerprint sensor can determine which driver profile—seat position, radio presets—to activate. Step up to the top-of-the-line "Pinnacle" trim level and you can get the optional Augmented Video feature, which overlays a video image of the vehicle’s surroundings with arrows or house numbers in the center screen to aid with navigation. And built-in toll pass and dash-cam options mean less stuff to stick on your windshield. As new features become available, Mercedes will send out over-the-air software updates to teach the C-Class new tricks.

Mercedes is leaning hard into its “Hey, Mercedes” voice recognition service, and promises to pair it with leading streaming music providers that have yet to be named. Still, the C-Class will work wirelessly with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. We’ll be sure to test all these environments when we spend time with our own C-Class.

The current C-Class has one of the roomiest rear seats in its class, and we hope the cab backward redesign wasn’t a step backward for rear passenger access, which we’ll also be sure to test. 

2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan C300 driving on a roadway side view

What Drives It

So far, Mercedes has shared that the new C300 and all-wheel-drive C300 4MATIC will be powered by an improved 2.0-liter turbocharged, 255-hp, four-cylinder engine featuring a 48-volt mild hybrid setup that promises to improve fuel efficiency and offer more low-end torque during acceleration. A nine-speed automatic transmission is still standard, and Mercedes says the optional all-wheel-drive system is lighter and more efficient than in the outgoing model. We’ll have to wait to find out about other powertrain options, although we expect a high-performance AMG version in the near future.

We measured a respectable 26 mpg overall in the outgoing C-Class when equipped with all-wheel drive, so a mild hybrid system that can provide electric power for initial acceleration and that allows the C-Class to coast on highways and when approaching a stop should improve that even more. Mercedes also claims a more seamless automatic stop/start feature, which is a typical benefit of mild hybrid systems.

The new powertrain should also improve performance. The last C-Class 4MATIC we tested accelerated from 0 to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds. Mercedes-Benz promises that the new model is capable of the same sprint in just 5.9 seconds. The standard suspension includes electronically adjustable dampers, while a sportier AMG Line suspension is optional. 

Safety and Driver Assist Systems

Blind spot warning and automatic emergency braking come standard, but there’s a whole bunch of optional safety features. One, called Pre-Safe Impulse Side, will inflate air chambers on the outside of the front seat if it senses an oncoming collision to move the driver or front passenger away from a side impact.

The automaker also says that some safety and driver assistance systems have been improved thanks to new software, sensors, and cameras. For example, the Distronic active driving assistance system can sense stopped vehicles ahead at speeds up to 62 mph, up from 37 mph, and there are promised improvements to the lane centering function as well.