The Mercedes C Class nomenclature was first introduced in 1993. And that’s all for the Mercedes history lesson. Fast forward to 2021 and the all-new 5th generation C CLass (W06) was launched. If it looks like a mini S Class then your eyes are not deceiving you. The 5th generation 2022 Mercedes C Class is based on a shortened S Class platform. The latest C CLass exterior design, after all these years, finally does look class-leading.
Mercedes have, for far too long, used the S Class as a marketing stick to beat the perception of quality into the rest of its product line-up. Finally, the 2022 C Class feels like a premium product inside and out. But it isn’t the best because Audi and BMW still have the advantage in terms of interior and build quality.
Even the Volkswagen Passat interior has a better sense of quality despite using fewer premium materials. That is the issue with Mercedes, the interiors look premium but don’t feel it and I get that feeling when sitting in the new C Class. Am I being too harsh? No, because Gottlieb Daimler himself once said, “the best or nothing at all.”
Mercedes can not afford to do “nothing at all” otherwise they would fall into the administration bear trap. They can no longer sit on the perch of being heralded as the best, the media will tell them so and Mercedes will believe the hype. However, if we go by Mr. Gottlieb’s maxim and high standards, the C Class is for now merely adequate.
After dieselgate we no longer consider Mercedes trustworthy enough to recommend their diesel engine variants. So we will focus on their petrol engines. The bread and butter engine lineup consists of 1.5-liter and 2.0-litre engines depending on spec. Both are 4-cylinders and both get a 48-volt mild-hybrid technology to improve efficiency. The entry-level 1.5-litre C200 develops a very useful 204bhp. The 2.0-litre C300 develops 245bhp. Power is sent to the rear wheels via a 9-speed automatic.
If you want more planet-saving efficiency then Mercedes has you covered with the temporary guilt-free C300 e, a plug-in hybrid that offers 35 miles of pure electric range before the 25.4 kWh batteries require recharging.
C Class Trim And Equipment
Prices for the 2022 Mercedes C Class [at the time of this review] start at £39,860 for the saloon and £40,515 for the estate. The model range is fairly simple, Sport, AMG Line, AMG Line Premium. The top-of-the-range AMG Line Premium Plus is £47k for the saloon and rises to £48k for the estate.
The latest C Class is packed with technology from active and passive safety to modern digital displays and software. Entry-level equipment includes keyless-go, parking package with reverse camera, the latest MBUX multimedia system, Agility control suspensions with drive modes, seat comfort, interior lighting package, LED high-performance headlights etc.
The C Class AMG Line Premium on test included a bump up on equipment and features. Notably, it rides on 19-inch low-profile alloy wheels. The overall ride quality feels on the firm side without being overly harsh. Body control remains stable through corners with minimal roll. However, the ride does feel a little crashy over undetermined road surfaces,
Conversely, the C Class deals with bumps and imperfections well enough. The ride quality can not match the passive suspension of the BMW 3 Series which is on another level when compared to the C Class. The ride is good but better than nothing at all.
The biggest issue I had during my time with the C Class was the 1.5-litre engine. Remember, the “best is not good enough?” The 1.5-litre engine simply isn’t good enough for a Mercedes, it has plenty of power but it feels unrefined.
When accelerating or cruising you can feel vibrations through the throttle pedal. The maxim “the best or nothing at all” does not apply here, the 1.5-litre engine is simply good for nothing, it is not class-leading, it is not Mercedes at their engineering best.
And to underscore the lack of refinement, the 1.5-litre engine isn’t exactly efficient despite having all manner of mild-hybrid technology. The most it could muster was 41mpg on a combined run.
The gearbox, although smooth-shifting had a slight hesitation, particularly at low speed which just detracted from the driving experience somewhat.
And finally the brakes, they were too “snatchy” in that they were too sensitive. A slight press of the pedal was akin to stamping on the brakes,. It’s just not good enough for a brand that sells and markets its image as premium luxury.
Where Mercedes is excelling at the moment is with the digital hardware and software. The Mercedes MBUX infotainment system and digital driver display are better than any car manufacturer out there, bar Tesla.
The 11.9-inch multimedia display is complemented by a 12.3-inc digital instrument cluster. The graphics are clear and intuitive to use, the resolution is crisp and the system is fast and responsive to interact with. The integrated voice command is equally as good and and allows you to set the temperature without repetition or hesitation.
Overall MBUX has got a smartphone vibe to it and plenty of downloadable Apps. In addition, the MBUX is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The Final Verdict.
The new 2022 Mercedes C Class isn’t a revelation nor is it a disappointment. It’s grown in size and offers plenty of space for front and rear passengers. But I would avoid the base-spec 1.5-litre petrol engine because it isn’t good enough for a Mercedes, it is a reliability issue waiting to happen.
The ride and handling are adequate, and the interior quality is a huge improvement over the previous generation but still can’t match the solid quality from rivals such as Audi and BMW.
The Mercedes C Class isn’t the best, but it is marginally better than nothing at all.