The C-Class’ cabin design is simple, purposeful and uncluttered. Apart from the optional navigation system, which includes a screen that motors out from the middle of the dashboard, the cabin’s styling doesn’t push beyond the norms in this class. Depending on the model, the C-Class has real wood (Luxury) or aluminum (Sport) accents, both of which enhance the interior.
The new C-Class has a smaller version of the knob controller in the S-Class that’s used to navigate menus on the dash display. Mercedes’ system has menus that are more logical and easier to get accustomed to than either BMW’s iDrive or Audi’s Multi Media Interface.
Front bucket seats with eight-way power adjustment are standard, but the seats only have manual lumbar adjustment, unlike those of some competitors that can have power lumbar support. Leather upholstery is optional. With the range of power seat adjustments and a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, it’s easy to find a comfortable driving position that affords good forward, side and rear visibility. What’s more, the front portion of the cabin doesn’t have the cramped feel of the 3 Series sedan, which is a big plus in my book.
The base V-6 moves the C300 ably, if not with authority. There’s good power at low engine speeds for accelerating from a standstill, and when teamed with the standardseven-speed automatic transmission, the engine musters acceptable power for passing at highway speeds. I don’t always recommend a car’s base engine, but the base C-Class should offer plenty of power for all but the most lead-footed drivers.
The seven-speed automatic transmission is the same one used in the automaker’s flagship S-Class sedan, and while its shifts were always smooth during the course of my 200-plus mile drive, the transmission does tend to upshift a little too readily. This keeps engine speed lower, which has benefits like reduced fuel usage and engine noise, but it can leave the car in the wrong gear if you need to accelerate immediately. The transmission’s Touch Shift clutchless-manual mode will put the transmission in the appropriate gear for conditions if you want, but it wouldn’t take long for this to become tiresome.