The 2017 Mercedes-Benz C300 is your entry into the Mercedes-Benz world. It has the luxury styling, performance, and amenities that are hallmarks of the brand with a price point that makes it affordable even if you weren’t born with a million-dollar trust fund.
What is it?
The C300 is a 5-passenger sports sedan for the entry-level luxury buyer. It starts at $41,500 with options that can send it over $60,000. It’s not cheap, but it’s not outrageous. Those who want a Mercedes but can’t afford an S-Class sedan can still enjoy the Mercedes experience in the C300.
Pricing and trims
The C-Class Mercedes-Benz includes four different models with the C300 as the base. It is available in rear-wheel drive or 4MATIC all-wheel drive. Other models in the range include a hybrid at $45,490 and two AMG versions of the C-Class that have more power for the performance enthusiast. The AMG C43 starts at $52,000 while the AMG C63 comes in at $65,200.
Our test C300 included 4MATIC all-wheel drive and a long list of options. This took the base price of $41,500 and bumped it up to $59,260. That’s nearly $20K in options, but they do make a difference adding both better technology and a more luxurious interior.
Standard safety features on the C300 include a 24-hour roadside assistance program, collision prevention assist plus which warns of a possible collision, attention assist that monitors your driving and warns if you’re showing signs of driving while drowsy, automatic light-sensing headlamps, LED daytime running lights, and a rearview camera.
There are several optional safety packages available for the C300. Add blind spot assist for $550 or the parking assist package with a surround view system and park assist for $1,090. You can also find these features included in several convenience packages, but those packages are more expensive than adding the safety features alone.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates the 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class a 2017 Top Safety Pick. It achieved their highest rating of Good in all crash tests and for its LATCH child safety seat anchors and a top rating of Superior for front crash prevention technology. It missed being rated a Top Safety Pick+ due to its headlights, which received a Poor rating.
Power for the Mercedes-Benz C300 comes from a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbocharged engine paired to a 7-speed automatic transmission. It provides 241 horsepower and is powerful and responsive. Even in Sport+ mode under aggressive acceleration, this car never forgets it’s a Mercedes and stays collected as it provides a smooth burst of speed.
This isn’t the most powerful Mercedes you can buy by a long shot, but it still provides a taste of performance. This is especially true if you flip through the Dynamic Select drive modes with a toggle on the center console. Choose Eco, Comfort, Sport, or Sport+ for an increasingly aggressive drive. You can even customize the drive through the Individual setting so the throttle response, shift points, and steering match your driving style.
The C300 is never fussy with smooth shifts and instantaneous response when you press the gas pedal. There’s no hesitation, even in Eco mode, which makes driving through heavy traffic easier. If you need a sudden burst of speed to merge, the C300 is always ready.
The C300’s seven-speed automatic transmission delivers well-timed gear changes, with noticeable changes in shift points as you toggle the Dynamic Select switch. It shifts aggressively higher on the rev scale in Sport+ and then tones it right down in Eco and Comfort modes. Regardless of the mode, there’s no uncertainty as it tries to decide which gear is best. Instead it rightly anticipates what to do next without delay.
Ride and handling
This C300 provides the engaging yet relaxed handling you’d expect from a Mercedes. It’s a comfortable cruiser that won’t tax the driver on long trips, but can just as easily get your heart pumping when there’s nothing but open highway. The ride is never rough, even in Sport+ mode, and steering is responsive and effortless.
The power-adjustable front seats are comfortable with moderate bolstering and good support. The optional thigh support is welcome for those with longer legs and retracts enough that it doesn’t cut in for those who are of shorter stature.
Rear seating is great for two, but tight for three. There’s enough leg and headroom for most passengers, but it’s not spacious. The seats are soft and relaxing making them perfect for long drives, with 37.1 inches of headroom and 35.2 inches of legroom. The Audi A4 fares better with 37.4 inches of headroom and 35.7 inches of legroom, while the BMW 3 Series beats them all with 40.3 inches of headroom but only 35.1 inches of legroom.
Cargo isn’t going to be your priority with a small sedan, but you still need to be able to bring home groceries and pack a few suitcases. The C300 has just 12.6 cubic feet of cargo space. You’ll do better in the Audi A4 with 13 cubic feet and much better in the BMW 3 Series with 17 cubic feet.
Infotainment and controls
The upgraded infotainment system includes an 8.4-inch high resolution screen with AM/FM/HD Radio and Sirius XM satellite radio and navigation with 3D maps. Neither Apple CarPlay nor Android Auto is currently available, but there are two USB charging ports in the center console to keep devices powered.
The system is controlled by a combination of a touchpad and rotary dial on the center console. The touchpad responds to the swipes and pinches familiar from smartphones, but it’s a tricky feat to pull off while driving down a rough road.
The rotary dial underneath is a much easier way of controlling the system. It spins to select options on the screen and toggles to the sides, like a joystick controller for a game console. There are also buttons that will quickly take you to the home screen if you find yourself lost in the menus.
Sound comes from an optional Burmester surround sound system specifically designed for the C-Class. It has 13 speakers and a 560-watt amplifier and not only sounds fantastic, but looks great with beautifully detailed aluminum speaker grilles.
The Mercedes-Benz C300 offers an opportunity to get into a Mercedes at an affordable price point. It does this without sacrificing the beauty and performance of more expensive Mercedes models.
The C300 is handsome inside and out, has plenty of power, and offers options that help create a true luxury-car experience.
The downside is how quickly those options add up. Your very affordable C300 can quickly become unaffordable when you click all the boxes.
2017 Mercedes-Benz C300 4MATIC
Base price: $41,500
Price as tested: $59,260 including $925 destination charge:
Manual Rear Seat Window Sun Shade: $380
Heated and Ventilated Front Seats: $1,030
Panorama Roof: $1,480
Rear Deck Spoiler: $350
Premium 4 Package: $8,650
COMAND navigation and voice control
8.4-inch high resolution screen
5 years SiriusXM traffic and weather services
SiriusXM radio with free trial term
Burmester surround sound system
Active LED headlamps
Adaptive highbeam assist
Illuminated door sills
Electronic trunk closer
Active blind spot assist
Active lane keeping assist
Air balance cabin fragrance system and cabin-air purification system
Distronic Plus with steering assist
Pre-Safe plus rear-end collision protection
BAS plus with cross-traffic assist
Power rear window sunshade
Leather Seating Package: $2,050
Passenger seat with 3-position memory and thigh support
Sport Package: $2,175
AMG sport bodystyling
Sport front brakes with perforated discs
Aluminum sport pedals with rubber studs
MB-Tex with top-stitching on dashboard and upper door panels
- Luxurious Interior
- Comfortable Seating
- Good Performance
- Expensive Options
- Tight Rear Seating
- Small Trunk