Mercedes-Benz is a brand that many aspire to own. There is a certain mystique to Mercedes that blends together luxury and performance and a notion of refinement, but that all comes at a price. Yes, you can spend over $100K on a Mercedes and it will blow your mind, but you can spend far less on one like the 2015 Mercedes-Benz C300 and still get that $100K experience.
The C300 doesn’t look like an affordable car. It looks like the kind of car you only buy if you have money to burn. It is simply beautiful with an upright grille and dual inset lamps topped by a row of LEDs. The air inlets are huge and speak to the C300’s performance nature. Those curved, sporty lines flow right on through to the rear.
Inside, the design is elegant. There is nothing brash about driving the C300 and there is not one thing in the interior that doesn’t look and feel beautiful. There is a huge list of available options and many were on this test vehicle including an Interior Package ($2,300) that added leather upholstery, ventilated seats, ambient lighting and illuminated door sills. There was also black ash open pore wood ($325) and palladium silver trim ($720). This makes the interior look like it could be on a far pricier S-Class.
Its good looks and rich interior were what surprised me the most about the C300. This isn’t the priciest Mercedes out there so I assumed, wrongly, that it would lose much of its luxury appeal. The opposite was true. This car is devastatingly good-looking and you will not for one second feel like they skimped or cut corners in the design or in the materials.
It’s not just about looks. The C300 is a car which wants to be driven and this year it comes with a new engine and a 200-pound weight loss. The 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbo with direct injection makes 241 horsepower with 273 lb-ft of torque. It is paired to a 7-speed automatic transmission and features steering wheel paddle controls. Press the gas and the engine quickly responds with a burst of power. It’s all easily handled through the electrically assisted steering that is precise and accurate.
I had the unfortunate luck to be several cars behind an overloaded trailer of random junk that came apart on the highway. At highway speeds it is not an easy feat to avoid bouncing bits of who knows what while staying on the road and not hitting another car. My real life Mario Kart moment made my heart race, but the handling was incredible as I whipped the wheel back and forth to get through the mess. Once my heartbeat went back to normal, there was a voice in my head saying, “Let’s do that again!”
The ride is smooth and comfortable, easily absorbing the shocks of the terrible road surfaces left behind by a rough New England winter. Agility Control allows some modification with a Sport setting that tightens things up and that’s about the only time a rougher road surface becomes a nuisance. It’s no matter because you’ll be having too much fun enjoying the ride.
The one feature of which I was not a fan was the controller for the infotainment system. There’s a control wheel tucked under a mouse-shaped touchpad that sits in front of the center armrests. The touchpad lets you swipe and pinch just like on a tablet or phone, but it’s not as responsive or precise as your other devices. I preferred using the control wheel as much as possible.
But how much does it all cost? Looking at options that added as much as several thousand dollars a pop, you might think that even an affordable Mercedes is ridiculously expensive. Nope. Loaded with options this car came in at just over $55K.
That is by no means a cheap, but it won’t require that you sell a kidney. It is also the same price as many other lesser cars. I am amazed that this much performance and an interior that feels right out of a high-end luxury car can be had for this price.
The 2015 Mercedes-Benz C300 is all the luxury and performance that are the hallmarks of the brand at a price you can actually afford.
2015 Mercedes-Benz C300
Base Price: $40,400
Price As Tested: $55,070(not including destination charge)
- Powerful Engine
- Precise Handling
- Luxurious Interior
- Narrow Front Leg Room
- Low Rear Head Room
- Infotainment Controls