The first step into the world of Mercedes-Benz is the C-Class sedan. Yes, there is the CLA-Class, but I’m talking about the real world of M-B. The CLA 250 compact sedan does indeed have a huge three-pointed star within its grill, but its flinty ride and questionable cabin quality exclude it from delivering the bona fide goods. It feels a tad too much like a Benz wannabe.

Not so the C-Class.

Introduced in 2014, this current fourth-generation C-Class gets a first-rate cabin resplendent in artful design and fine detailing. Its exterior echoes the curvaceous and elegant lines of big-brother S-Class. Trickle-down radar- and camera-based tech is on the menu as well.

Heck, even the base drivetrain plays along. The 2.0L direct-injection turbo with 241 hp and a healthy 273 lb-ft pulls from just north of idle and moves the Benz forward with little effort and no fuss. A seven-speed 7G-tronic transmission and 4Matic all-wheel drive complete the picture.

Is the C 300 4Matic a sports sedan? Nah. It’s a finely hewn, comfortable conveyance that waves the Benz flag loud and proud. It is the marque’s top worldwide seller, after all. Staunchly conservative, it perfectly caters to a crowd that aspires ascension through the hierarchy of Mercedes hardware, and less so to the “sporty” BMW 3 Series buyer or those who seek the ice-cold Bauhaus aesthetic and capability of the techy Audi A4.

Today we’re looking at a 2016 Mercedes-Benz C 300 4Matic that carries a base price of $43,800 but comes to us bearing a few packages and options that swell the bottom line to $53,690. I highly doubt you could even find a base model C 300 at a dealer, such is the “necessity” of the $3,700 Premium Package that adds rearview camera, panoramic sunroof, navigation with MB Apps, and storage package. To this, our tester added the Premium Plus Package ($2,400) with garage door opener, satellite radio, ambient lighting, proximity key with push button start, illuminated door sills and Parktronic with Active Park Assist.

Speaking of the S-Class: 2016 Mercedes-Benz S 550e Test Drive

In case you’re wondering, the base model C 300 4Matic does come with a number of standard features: auto-start/stop, 17-inch alloys, split-folding rear seats, push-button start, 16-way driver’s seat with memory and 14-way passenger seat in Artico faux-leather, rain-sensing wipers and 7-inch screen. Standard safety kit includes Attention Assist (warns if you’re getting drowsy), blind spot detection, collision mitigation braking, and Pre-Safe that instantly preps the car for a collision (closes windows, sunroof, adjust seats, belts and more).

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