Mercedes dreamt up the idea for the C-Class in 1974. It took eight years and hundreds of millions of dollars to translate that idea into the 1982 C 180. When introduced to the United States in 1984, Americans shunned it as “the poor man’s Mercedes,” and a journo at The Washington Post encapsulated the collective national consciousness’ side-eye with, “It’s not a real Mercedes.
After perusing those numbers, we thought we’d made easy sense of the facelifted fifth-generation 2019 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. You need a loupe and a PowerPoint presentation to spot the bodywork changes. We figured the point of this facelift was not messing up a very good thing. But instead, Mercedes made a very good thing better, changing nearly 6,500 parts on the car in order to do it — roughly half the total component tally. That makes the 2019 C-Class the most comprehensive update in the nameplate’s history.
This facelift will not be known for its face, but for its muscle and its finesse. A new electrical architecture, 80 percent changed from the current car, enables convenience and driver assistance systems plucked from the E- and S-Classes. The cameras and radar look further down the road and around the car. Car-to-X communication will seek other cars and fixtures to chatter to. Active Distance Distronic allows longer periods of hands-off driving, and can change lanes on its own given a manual tap of the turn-signal stalk.
The new electrical system cleared the way for upgraded features like the parking collision warning, which will roll out with the U.S. launch of the MercedesMe app ecosystem. When someone hits the 2019 C-Class hard enough to jolt the in-car accelerometer — the same one that provides the G-Force readout during hard driving — the car sends a message to the owner’s phone with the date, time, and general location of the impact.
The AMG C 43 sports a 2.9-liter V6, making 385 hp — 23 more than its predecessor — with torque again remaining level at 384 lb-ft. Larger turbochargers with max boost of 16 psi contribute to the cause. If there are any fuel efficiency gains, we doubt you’ll ever find out about them — the car is too much fun to drive hard.
The entry-level C-Class is a good decade or more beyond any fear that it was a mindless exercise in “pandering to the masses.” Although we’d take the AMG C 43 sedan, the C 300 is a valid alternative to the middle brother, a sincere prompt for the declaration, “This one, right here, is enough.”