Compared to the model that ended its run in 2014, today's Mercedes-Benz C-Class is longer, wider, with more space between the front and rear wheels. The boost in size translates into a sedan with more comfortable space for adults, and a more usable rear seat that still is somewhat compromised by the sleek roofline.
By the numbers, the C-Class has grown 3.7 inches overall, to 184.5 inches; the wheelbase is up 3.0 inches, to 111.8 inches; it's 1.6 inches wider, at 71.3 inches.
The cabin is the undisputed star in this C-Class. It's styled with a gorgeous waterfall effect at the center stack, rendered either in wood (including a stunning open-pore black ash wood), aluminum, or carbon fiber, depending on the model. The dash gently arcs around the front seats, which offer excellent shape and support, with extendable lower-cushion bolsters, good mid-back support, and full power controls for the front passengers. It all gives a sense of quality and appeal not found in the previous C-Class, or in many competing makes.
On the C450 AMG, the grippy, sueded AMG sport seats go beyond the usual bolstering with power-adjustable headrest height and thigh-cushion extenders. It's easy to power into a supremely comfortable seating position, with a good view of the gauges through the three-spoke, flat-bottomed Nappa leather steering wheel.
Inside the enlarged cabin, Mercedes has upgraded the look and feel of materials throughout, as well as the technological side controls. A 7.0-inch central display is standard, with an optional 8.4-inch screen as part of the Multimedia package.
The window line feels quite high, yet the dash is definitely lower than in previous models and its predecessor; we like the combination of security and outward visibility. The cabin stays tight and quiet, too, with excellent isolation of wind noise.
The only significant letdown inside is still backseat space. Despite the several inches of added length and wheelbase (and a claimed boost in leg room), there’s really not enough leg room or knee room for those 6 feet or taller. Changes to the door cut and roofline back there actually make it tougher to get in versus the outgoing version, we think.
Trunk space is on the slim side too, at 12.6 cubic feet. The rear seat backs flip forward, almost effortlessly, with a lever from the trunk side, to provide a flat floor that’s far more convenient than the pass-throughs found in some sedans.