The 2023 Mercedes C300 Makes One Hell of a First Impression

Admittedly, I haven’t spent much time in the Mercedes C300 yet. But how better to write about a first impression when that is all I have so far? I went from the fire-breathing 2022 BMW X3 M Competiton to this understated, very good-looking Mercedes sedan. While the C300 is a pretty car, it also kind of looks like something a movie mafia goon might crawl out of. Either way, I was excited to drive it. The 2023 Mercedes C300 makes one hell of a first impression. 

2023 Mercedes C300
2023 Mercedes C300 | MotorBiscuit: Peter Corn

Shouldn’t we care more that there’s a new Mercedes model?

Road & Track makes a really good point about the new C300, “Why isn’t this a bigger deal?”

That was my very first impression. Hell, I write about cars for a living, and this car barely popped up on my radar. For many others, it snuck by completely undetected. In fairness, while I do think it looks good, it isn’t overly distinct from other Mercedes sedans. It looks a little like the old one and some other newer models. Again, I think it looks very nice, classy, but still understated. 

The 2022 Mercedes C300 exterior

2023 Mercedes C300 parked near water
2023 Mercedes C300 | MotorBiscuit: Peter Corn

Mercedes is the King of understated luxury. While the C300 still has that understated class, the front end does have a bit of an angry mug. I like it. Everything from the hood back falls in line with the same old Mercedes sedan design. This also isn’t a problem for me. 

The wheels also struck me at first glance. There is something absolutely lovely about these 19-inch heavy-spoked wheels that give a very executive feel. 

It’s important to note that my loaner C300 comes dressed in the AMG Line package, which sports a number of small visual cues and a 15mm drop in ride height, and upgraded brakes.

The 2022 Mercedes C300 interior

2023 Mercedes C300
2023 Mercedes C300 | MotorBiscuit: Peter Corn

As soon as I opened the door, I saw the interior positively washed in two-tone black and brown leather, which I was shocked to learn, came at no extra cost. Mercedes knows how to dress a car interior. The sporty, slightly squared steering wheel stays low-key but adds a touch of something spicy. Mercs always need a dash of hot sauce. 

While nice by today’s standards, the dash still rubs me the wrong way. The giant screens scream planned obsolescence. It’s all I can think of when I see them. That aside, Mercedes tends to throw about 35 buttons too many inside the cars, and this one is no exception. The slightly sporty steering wheel looks more like an F1 car’s wheel than a luxury sedan.

Overall, the 2023 C300 cabin is a lovely place to spend some time. In my short jaunt through Manhattan, even though the traffic, I wasn’t overly eager to get out of it. 

Is the 2023 Mercedes C300 fast? 

The C300 comes with a tamed but peppy four-cylinder paired with a mild hybrid system. This marks the first U.S.-market Mercedes to offer a four-cylinder hybrid. The mild hybrid wasn’t all that noticeable at first, except for the lack of turbo lag. According to Road & Track, the hybrid component is essentially an integrated starter-generator mounted at the back of the engine, which does away with belt-driven accessories and provides an additional 20 horsepower and 148 lb-ft of torque.

Thanks to the hybrid bits, the C300 makes 255 hp. I know that doesn’t seem like much, and I guess it really isn’t that much, but it doesn’t feel underpowered or slow. This is actually a relief not to have to wrangle a billion-hp engine while trying to enjoy a luxury car. I’m not sure why we think everything should be a race car now, but I was pleased that Mercedes kept the power down on this one. 

Overall, the first impressions of the 2023 Mercedes C300 are a comfortable, quick, great-looking Mercedes that feels like it should cost way more.

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