2012 Mercedes Benz C300 4matic: Overall leader in luxury mid- size sedan class.

Autoreview by Veeno Dewan

Once you reach a certain point in life, free of the foibles of youth and mature somewhat you get a taste for the more classic accoutrements of life. Fine wines, better restaurants and more conservative and expensive tastes all-round. You want the best you can afford rather than what just looks superficial and faddish. And so you start looking at Mercedes- Benz….a classic long nosed Mercedes sedan that is. And the first port of call is the C-Class, or in this class the entry level C300. For 2012 the C300 is a more defined, chiselled, squarer, looking car. However crisp creases, more elaborate detailing around the lights and grill give it more presence without losing gravitas. And you still get the three pointed stand up hood ornament to remind you and others about the C300’s rich heritage. For 2012 the new C-Class receive mild exterior styling updates comprising: revised front bumper design, a new lightweight aluminum hood and front fenders, new headlight covers and standard active bi-xenon headlights, and new LED turn signals and daytime running lights.

A more powerful and more fuel-efficient 3.5-litre V6 engine, in this case a newly available turbocharged four-cylinder engine is now offered along with an improved seven-speed automatic transmission, a next-generation telematics and navigation system, and safety features. Our tester was a C300 All-Wheel Drive 4matic model that looked expensive, sleek yet stately.

The 2012 C-Class sedan arrives as entry level 210 hp C250 and V6 powered C300, C350, models and super expensive and exclusive C63 AMG. Engineering upgrades include a more fuel-efficient and more powerful direct-injected 306-hp 3.5-litre V6 engine (up from 268 hp) in the C350 4Matic and C350 rear-wheel drive models. The C300 4Matic model now has a more powerful 248-hp 3.0-litre V6 engine and offers All Wheel drive.

There are some echoes of the bigger E-Class sedan in the cabin. A larger instrument panel similar to the larger E-Class sedan’s features a redesigned three-gauge instrument cluster with a new color information display inside the large central speedometer; an improved telematics and navigation system with a fixed screen (available in two sizes) with an anti-glare hood. Also new is a steering wheel with revised audio and cruise buttons on the spokes. The audio system controls also arrives with larger buttons and controls for better ease of use.

Mercedes quality is much in evident with finer higher quality materials and a plethora of richer grained plastics, wood, aluminum or carbon fibre trim around the dash. The MB Tex vinyl leather–look upholstered seats look and feels like real leather should and are thick and luxurious to the touch.

The C300 cabin is a study of German efficiency with ample people room. Front passengers have comfortable, multi-adjustable bucket seats. Meanwhile the rear compartment is equally roomy with adequate head, leg and shoulder room.

Whether passenger or driver- ergonomics are superb.

The 2012 C-Class also arrives with plenty of driver aid technology, including: Lane Keeping Assist, Blind Spot Assist and to prevent falling asleep at the wheel; Attention Assist. Front and rear parking sensors alert the driver to obstacles in front and behind the vehicle when parking and provide visual and audible instructions that guide the driver when parallel parking (Parktronic with Parking Guidance.)

On the road, the new C-class V6 engines delivers 228 horsepower (at 6,000 rpm) and 221 pound feet of torque (from 2,750 to 5,000), and has to haul around a 3,737 pounds of curb weight yet acceleration is brisk off the line. The seven-speed automatic teamed with the V6 engine is a smooth glitch free unit that pulled the C300 around with some aplomb. More impressive is the excellent all-wheel drive system in the 4matic that offers good traction in all conditions. With its centered firm steering and well developed handling the C300 offers inspired road manners.

So why would you buy it? Well, consider the way the doors close with a solid thunk. Go through car from top to bottom and see the attention to detail, neatness and the quality engineering that is on display. You still feel as if the car was hand built by craftsman just for you. Whilst on the road the solidity and reassuring feel of the C300’s body conveys a feeling of indestructibility. Yes there are flashier, somewhat more “exuberant” looking sedans in this class, but most pale when you consider the core values the C300 has to offer overall. It is still a leader in this segment and highly recommended.

2012 Mercedes Benz C300 4Matic sedan. Priced from $49,860