The 2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class learns its lessons from the best

The 2022 Mercedes-Benz W206 C-Class is hot on the heels of the three-pointed star's new flagship S-Class. As such, the newest C-Class has a mild sprinkling of S-Class DNA, starting with how it looks: the original 'baby Benz' is now longer and wider yet lower than the outgoing model. It now has a cab-rearward silhouette like the new S-Class with a bulbous hood, longer wheelbase, and a shorter front overhang.

"The letters C and S sit at opposite ends of the alphabet. However, in our portfolio they're now moving closer together," said Ola Källenius, CEO of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG. "The C-Class is already our best-selling sedan. Still, I'm certain our new C-Class will excite even more customers with a wide range of high-tech features derived from our flagship S-Class."

The C-Class remains the highest-volume Mercedes-Benz model in the last decade. Mercedes sold over 2.5-million C-Class sedans and wagons globally since debuting the W205 C-Class in 2014. In my book, all C-Class models have praise-worthy styling dating back to the W201 model produced from 1982 to 1993. But unlike its predecessors, the 2022 W206 C-Class is forging the fine line between sport and luxury with its cab-backward profile.

Utilizing the fewest body lines possible, Mercedes-Benz designers came up with elaborately sculpted body surfaces and a strong shoulder line, further enhancing the new C-Class's dynamic stance. Combined with standard 18-inch or available 19-inch wheels, the latest C-Class is a fusion of elegance, sportiness, and understated luxury – all genuine traits of a C-Class. However, Mercedes-Benz recently announced the non-availability of V6 and V8 engines in the 2022 C-Class. As it turns out, the W206 C-Class is the first classic Benz model to receive a fully-electrified mild-hybrid powertrain.

Initially, America will get two available variants of the 2022 C-Class: C300 and C300 4MATIC. Common to both is a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine pumping out 255 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. From now on, all C-Class models will strictly arrive with turbocharged four-bangers. Still, it brought along the brand's Integrated Starter Generator (ISG), drawing power from a 48-volt onboard electrical system. The ISG adds 20 horsepower and 148 pound-feet of immediate shove, filling in for the gas engine as the turbo gathers boost at lower engine speeds.

Additionally, the turbocharger features the latest twin-scroll technology from the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 team to deliver an instantaneous throttle response. All C-Class models have a 9G-Tronic nine-speed automatic transmission turning the rear wheels. On the other hand, the C300 4MATIC's all-wheel-drive system features a new transfer case, allowing the new front axle to handle more torque feed to improve handling and stability. On the way home, the 2022 C-Class can coast or glide with the gas engine turned off to save more fuel.

But if you pin it, it rushes from zero to 60 mph in 5.9-seconds and has a top speed of 130 mph. In a digital roundtable interview with Markus Schäfer, Mercedes-Benz Chief Operating Officer and Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, he revealed the electrified four-cylinder C-Class is 10 to 15-percent more efficient than non-hybridized C-Class models. "We have this NANOSLIDE cylinder coating inside the engine, which is a low friction treatment for efficiency reasons," he added.

Standard in the new W206 C-Class is Agility Control suspension with continuously adjustable damping. Suspended by a new four-link axle at the front and a subframe-mounted multi-link setup in the rear, the C-Class offers a high level of driving engagement with the silence and comfort of a Mercedes-Benz. It also features advanced driver assistance systems befitting of a modern Benz. Active Distance Assist Distronic can maintain a preset distance from vehicles ahead. At the same time, Active Steering Assist integrates lane recognition with a 360-degree camera to help you stay in the right lane at speeds up to 130 mph.

Inside, the 2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class features the second-generation MBUX infotainment system, including a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel and an 11.9-inch central touchscreen display adopted from the flagship S-Class luxury sedan. In the new C-Class, the two display screens are slightly angled towards the driver's line-of-sight by six-degrees to "further underlining the sporty and dynamic driver-centered design and performance of the C-Class," said Mercedes-Benz. Also, the screens have three display styles (sporty, Classic, and Understated) and three modes (Navigation, Assistance, and Service), offering a custom user interface.

"After its introduction in the S-Class, the second generation of MBUX already debuts in the new C-Class," said Georges Massing, Senior Manager Digital Vehicle and Mobility, Mercedes-Benz AG. "All the possibilities for intuitive operation and personalization have been adopted, plus driver-orientation as a new feature specific to the model series."

Of course, the "Hey Mercedes" voice assistant remains present, while the new Online Music feature integrates your Spotify, YouTube Music, and iTunes playlist to the MBUX infotainment system. And yes, you can summon your favorite tracks using the "Hey Mercedes" voice assistant, or you can fiddle with the touch control buttons in the new three-spoke leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel.

It also gets standard over-the-air updates (OTA) for seamless software updates and 64-color ambient lighting. Optional features include augmented video navigation and a heads-up color display, as seen in the S-Class. Meanwhile, the cabin is resplendent in jet black trim, fine chrome, and a choice of natural grain veneers and Nappa leather upholstery.

The 2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is hitting U.S. showrooms in early 2022. Pricing remains forthcoming as of press time, but we're expecting base prices to hover around $43,000 for the standard C300 sedan with rear-wheel drive.