The Mercedes-Benz C-Class is the poster boy of prestige passenger cars, but how does it compare to its larger, more powerful and more affordable rival from Genesis?
First it was the BMW 3 Series, then it became the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
We’re talking about the most desirable ‘entry-level’ automotive status symbol. Forget more affordable premium hatchbacks like the Mercedes-Benz A-Class and BMW 1 Series; if you want to be taken seriously as a luxury car owner, then you need a C-Class or equivalent from BMW, Audi, Jaguar and the like.
Of course, these days the luxury lifestyle waters are muddied by SUVs like the BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC, but there’s still something grander and more stately about owning and driving a luxury sedan. Or saloon, as they’re sometimes known, which implies a sumptuousness and opulence that ‘sedan’ simply doesn’t encapsulate.
Today’s question is: “Should Genesis be counted among the luxury elite?” Does the updated Genesis G80 saloon cut it against the creme-de-la-creme of the Posh Auto Alley?
But what to choose as a yardstick? Interestingly, the Genesis G80’s price aligns with the physically smaller and less powerful Mercedes-Benz C300. But is this a case of Genesis thinking it needs to offer more, to do more and to be more, to be taken seriously? Or is this the start of a revolution that could see the under-delivering old guard displaced from its long-held position of pre-eminence?
Let’s take a closer look.
Even before we knew what it was, the 2022 Genesis G80 line-up has changed in Australia.
As we’ve seen with other upstart luxury sub-brands before, Hyundai has been continually tweaking and adjusting premium stand-alone brand Genesis on the fly to get the best proposition for our market.
It’s usually what happens when things are new, just look at Lexus – it’s still figuring things out after 30 years in the luxury car game. Luckily there are motoring publications to cut through the mess and tell you what’s what.
The all-new Genesis G80 is the brand’s flagship large sedan, and originally was the product that actually introduced Australians to the brand back in 2015. More recently, and in the second half of 2020, Australia received the second generation and all-new Genesis G80, and this time in more than just one configuration.
Initially, there were both petrol and diesel engines on offer alongside rear- and all-wheel-drive options too. In the 12 months since, Genesis has removed the luxury of choice by now offering the G80 in two simple forms: a rear-wheel-drive Genesis G80 2.5T RWD with a 2.5-litre turbo four-cylinder, and an all-wheel-drive, 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 Genesis G80 3.5T AWD.
The rear-wheel-drive 2.5-litre turbo Genesis G80 is priced from $86,000, and the all-wheel-drive V6 twin-turbo from $102,000, both before on-roads. Option costs vary depending on the model, but we’ll focus on our cheaper 2.5-litre-powered Genesis G80 in this review.
Optional extras include a Sport Line package ($6000) that adds carbon interior inlays, sports seats, adaptive dampers, 20-inch wheels and more. There’s also a Luxury package for $13,000 that offers a totally different second row with electrically adjustable, heated and cooled rear seats, plus two 9.2-inch screens in the back for your guests as just the beginning.
Our test car had both option packages added to the tune of $19,000 extra, meaning it’s worth $105,000 before registration costs. Although large and grouped option packs tend to lead to sticker shock, they can actually help make model ranges elegantly simple, and personally I’m a big believer in an uncomplicated product offering.
It’s irrelevant whether the brand plans to sell 50 or 50,000 vehicles, providing customers some, albeit not crippling, amount of choice no doubt makes it easier for us all to transact.
Not only that, but a simplified vehicle line-up can result in more cars arriving sooner into the country. Given the current microchip shortage and production constraints hampering the new-car world, having a simple range means brands can better plan without managing options and thousands of potential configurations.
In this day and age, it’s a good move to be making.
With the arrival of the 2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class, the pecking order of the medium luxury sedan class comes up for reassessment.
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Can the new C-Class top its competitive class, will the BMW 3 Series be a thorn in its side, or should you look at an Audi A4, Alfa Romeo Guilia or Jaguar XE?
With trademark confidence, Mercedes-Benz has positioned the new C-Class at a premium compared to competitors, with the range starting at $78,900 plus on-road costs for the C200, or $90,400 plus on-road costs for the Mercedes-Benz C300 review you see here.
That’s a step up of over $15,000 compared to the outgoing C300, and frames the BMW 330i ($79,900 +ORCs) and Audi A4 45 TFSI ($73,500 +ORCs) as sharp value by comparison.
To offset the price, the C-Class range packs a massive 11.9-inch portrait display, LED headlights, AMG styling, 10 airbags, illuminated sill plates, 64-colour ambient lighting, and power-adjustable sports seats. Not too shabby.
Externally there’s not too much to set the C300 apart from the C200, but you might spot privacy tinted windows, 19-inch alloy wheels (instead of 18s), and inside you’ll perch upon full leather trim instead of imitation leather.
Under the bonnet, the C300 runs a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine with mild-hybrid assistance. It’s good for 190kW and 400Nm, and paired to a nine-speed automatic with rear-wheel drive.
Right now the C300 claims top-dog status in the range, but will be joined down the track by a more performance-oriented AMG C43, with a more potent 2.0-litre engine related to that of the A45 hyper hatch.
|Key details||2022 Genesis G80 2.5T RWD||2022 Mercedes-Benz C300|
|Price (MSRP)||$86,000 plus on-road costs||$90,400 plus on-road costs|
|Colour of test car||Mallorca Blue||Selenite Grey|
|Options||Sport Line package – $6000
– Road Preview electronically controlled suspension
– Black four-piston front brake calipers
– Three-spoke steering wheel
– Carbon-fibre interior trims
– Alloy pedals
– 20-inch alloy wheels
– Sport-styled front and rear bumpers
Luxury package – $13,000
– 18-way Ergo Motion front seats
– Three-zone climate control
– Heated and ventilated rear outboard seats
– Dual 9.2-inch rear entertainment screens
– Rear armrest console controls
– Remote smart park assist
– Nappa leather upholstery
|Vision package – $3800
– Panoramic sunroof
– Front seat memory and heating
– Head-up display
– Traffic sign recognition
– Augmented reality navigation prompts
Metallic paint – $1700
Black lime wood and gloss black interior trim – $700
|Price as tested||$105,000 plus on-road costs||$96,500 plus on-road costs|
The interior has undergone a marked improvement versus its previous-generation product. Looking at the G80’s smaller G70 sibling, it has received critical scorn for being “too Hyundai” and using too many parts from the Hyundai parent company’s mainstream range.
That complaint is no longer valid. Jumping inside, you’re now greeted with acres of fine materials, be it supple leather on the seats or high-end Alcantara above your head. Yes, the whole roof line – A-pillars and all – is covered in Ultrasuede as part of the Luxury package.
Once you stop using your finger to draw patterns and shapes in the suede material above your head, you can begin to notice the interesting, detailed, and carbon-fibre trim on the dashboard, which comes as part of the Sport Line equipment.
Instead of being laid in a usual criss-cross weave – like most carbon fibre – it’s instead been laid in diamond-shaped patterns akin to parquetry. It’s these numerous small touches that show Genesis has really attempted to push its cabin design and ambiance to a new level, and I reckon it’s succeeded.
The overall first impressions are miles ahead compared to the outgoing car. The seats themselves are marvellous, and come with Ergo Motion massage technology (with the Luxury Package). What this clever tech does is employ seven individually inflatable air pockets inside the seat that can inflate and ‘press’ up against your lower back, middle back and shoulders in an attempt to reduce fatigue.
If you want it to simply give you a massage for fun instead, it can do that too. Overall, they’re seriously comfortable seats, with myriad forms of adjustment including lumbar, heating and ventilation, and thankfully come in colours other than white too.
Other seat trim colours on offer include black, brown, blue, dune beige, and then vanilla beige (white) like our car. Even after a week of living with it, dirt transfer was obvious, so only opt for white if you’re diligent with your cleaning regime.
I like the blue leather personally, but then again blue duco over tan leather is another drop-dead gorgeous combination. Other parts of the cabin that are new include a digitised air-conditioning panel that combines both tactile switches with a digital haptic feedback, a new rotary controller for the infotainment system, and a strange 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster with three-dimensional mode.
It’s a really strange system that can be offputting to some. It uses cameras to track your eyes, then uses its embedded, angled screens within the gauge cluster to then show each of your eyes images that quite literally jump off the page.
It’s technology that’s made by German automotive conglomerate Continental, and is ground-breaking stuff. Depending on how you’re looking at it, it can morph from 2D to 3D like a Magic Eye book, which can be distracting. If you want to lower the 3D-ness you can, or turn it off completely if you prefer.
Over in the second row, occupant space is fantastic. I’m 183cm tall and sitting behind my own driving position still left plenty of room for my knees, feet and head. Our particular test car was fitted with the optional Luxury package, which meant the second row was A-grade luxury.
Folding down the centre armrest reveals mission control, where you can electrically adjust the second-row seating, recline the seat too, introduce heating or cooling, or simply control the rear-seat infotainment using an identical controller to the one found up front.
There’s even a cheeky wireless charger and USB ports buried alongside mission control, meaning guests in the back truly have no reason to complain or moan. Remember, all of these features come part of the $13,000 Luxury package, so if you want to spoil your kids with the best, cough up.
The boot of the 2022 Genesis G80 can take 424L of stuff, which means a decent grocery shop, a few bags and a kid’s stroller are all she wrote. It’s quite a deep and wide space but features a narrow aperture, so don’t compare it to a hatchback or SUV in that regard.
Trips to Ikea are probably a no-go, but it does have a ski flap for the loading of long and skinny items.
There’s no shortage of seating adjustment and myriad ways to find the ideal driving position. Awkwardly, though, the fiddly short-travel switches mean you’ll find three incorrect planes of movement before stumbling on the one you want.
The low-slung seating moves the C-Class more towards the driving stance you’ll find in a BMW 3 Series. Oddly, the driver’s footwell is very narrow (likely giving foot space preference to left-hand-drive cars) meaning the driver’s left leg is pressed hard into the centre tunnel.
The dash and console design will be familiar to past Benz buyers, there’s plenty going on, but nice details like the wood-veneered dash and stitched dashtop bring things up further.
The driver grips a thick-rimmed steering wheel, again calling BMW to mind. It could be a touch too chunky for some, and feels a touch too sporty for relaxed cruising.
Cabin amenities include power-adjustable sport seats, leather seat trim, 64-colour Vegas-strip ambient lighting, dual-zone climate control, illuminated door sill plates, and rear privacy tint.
In the rear seats there’s more space than before. The wheelbase is a touch longer than the previous-generation car, increasing the distance between axles by 25mm (to 2865 overall), which translates into extra cabin length.
The C-Class isn’t limo-like just yet, but for adults there’s sufficient knee and foot space, and the side-to-side pinch is less noticeable with more space for a full rear row.
Rear seat passengers will find air vents in the rear of the console, but no rear seat temperature controls. There are storage nooks and a fold-down armrest with a phone stay and cupholders, but rear seat amenities are otherwise in short supply.
With everyone packing power-hungry devices, the lack of rear charging outlets feels like an out-of-touch omission.
In the boot there’s 455L of space with folding rear backrests to load larger items. The boot features power opening and closing.
|2022 Genesis G80 2.5T RWD||2022 Mercedes-Benz C300|
Infotainment and Connectivity
Handling infotainment in the 2022 Genesis G80 is an epic 14.5-inch widescreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and DAB+ radio broadcasting. Instead of simply installing the biggest screen possible like some others, Genesis has gone one further and calibrated the software package to best use the display’s massive real estate.
The software divvies up the screen into customisable modules viewable at the same time. For example, you can have location data, music data, and a dedicated track list open all at the same time.
It’s clever, and given the screen is so big, it displays the information with the relevant detail required. It’s also great to see a manufacturer pushing its software development to get the most from the hardware.
The whole kit is controlled via a shallow, surface-mounted and interesting-looking rotary dial controller in the lower centre console. I mention the surface-mount point as it’s not the sort of dial you grab and use – like BMW’s iDrive system – but rather one you place your hand over and spin with your fingers.
If you’re used to working the ones-and-twos like a DJ, you’ll be stoked, but if not, you’ll need to train your dexterity. On top of the outer ring being rotatable, the inner part of the dial can be poked and swiped to administer commands, and you can draw letters on it, too, if you prefer writing.
The rotary dial does take some familiarisation, as I just mentioned, but once you’ve spent a week with it, you learn its foibles. The standard-fit 21-speaker Lexicon stereo system, on the other hand, is incredibly good.
The speakers are set up in 17 different places around the cabin, and the amplifier itself is a bit of a monster too. Staples like Dr Dre’s 2001 and Radiohead’s Kid A both juxtapose each other, but prove how versatile the sound system can be.
The spoken word cuts through the mix clear and centre stage, whereas the huge sounds from Radiohead’s groundbreaking album are incredibly lofty and hugely ambient. Regardless of what you spin, you’ll be stoked with how it’s reproduced.
The new C-Class runs Benz’s praiseworthy MBUX infotainment platform, offering a variety of ways to interact with the system, quick responses, and high-resolution screens.
In the centre of the dash is an 11.9-inch portrait-orientated screen, with dedicated climate controls incorporated at the bottom and a large display area occupying the majority of the display. It’s joined by a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. Both can be accessed via touchpad controllers on the steering wheel, while the infotainment system uses touch inputs or ‘hey Mercedes’ voice commands.
The new upsized central screen and minimal physical buttons keep the layout clean, but losing the old touch pad remote controller tends to make things more difficult to interact with on the go. I may be alone in holding this as a gripe, though.
Time heals all wounds, and my previous gripes with the Mercedes-Benz touch-sensitive steering wheel buttons have been allayed. It’s now much easier to use and more responsive to inputs, suggesting Mercedes may have tweaked the software behind it.
Mercedes Me connectivity provides a live feed of data to the car for services like traffic information, and with the smartphone app installed you can access vehicle info, remotely lock and unlock, or send navigation destinations to your car before you hit the road.
Out of the two 2022 Genesis G80 versions on offer, only the 2.5-litre rear-wheel-drive model wears a five-star ANCAP badge.
If you’re wondering why, it’s because the V6 twin-turbo model hasn’t been officially scrutinised by ANCAP. The cheaper and more affordable car was tested under 2021’s testing regime where it scored five stars.
Key areas where it performed well include adult occupant safety, but its vulnerable road user score of 77 per cent – if a pedestrian is struck by the vehicle – could be improved.
The 2022 Genesis G80 comes with the latest safety technology as standard, with its autonomous emergency braking system working at junctions, intersections and oncoming traffic, its lane-keeping assist able to help with evasive steering action, and safe-exit system ensuring your children do not open their door into oncoming traffic.
However, not all safety tech comes as standard. If you like the sound of reverse autonomous emergency braking that can detect objects when moving backward then brake to avoid them, or Forward Attention Warning that monitors and warms when the driver looks away – you’ll have to pay extra. Both are bundled in as part of the $13,000 Luxury package, sadly.
Standard safety features across the C-Class range include adaptive cruise control, active lane-keeping, blind-spot assist, driver fatigue detection, speed limit assist, tyre pressure monitoring, 360-degree cameras and autonomous emergency braking.
The C300 adds additional features, including active bind-spot assist and active lane-change assist, active lane-keep assist, active steering assist (active functions can assist to avoid or steer away from trouble), and traffic sign assist.
There’s also a feature in the C300 called Pre-Safe Impulse Side, which attempts to move occupants away from the sides of the car by inflating the front-seat side bolsters, effectively increasing the space between soft occupant bodies and hard vehicle surfaces in a side impact.
Although the C-Class range first launched without an ANCAP crash test score, latest results published by the safety body give the C200 and C300 models a five-star score based on 2022 assessment criteria.
The new C-Class scored 91 per cent and 90 per cent adult and child occupant protection rating respectively. Vulnerable road user protection (pedestrians and cyclists) was rated at 80 per cent, and safety assist systems received an 84 per cent score.
Assessing the value equation is an interesting one.
The 2022 Genesis G80 is larger than a BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, but priced more in line with a high-end 3 Series or C-Class.
That means it can feel dear next to entry-level European metal, but remember, it’s also far more car. Conversely, it’s a little cheap when assessed against the mid-sized Germans, but you can argue the flip side of the quality coin here is harder to justify.
By that I mean the gap above a Genesis G80 to a mid-sized German competitor is smaller than the advantage a Genesis has over a small-sized European sedan like a 3 Series.
As mentioned, our 2022 Genesis G80 2.5-litre turbo starts from $86,000 before on-roads. An all-new for 2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class starts from $90,400, and BMW’s ever-good 330i M Sport from $79,900, also before on-roads. If you want a 5 Series or an E-Class, expect to pay six figures.
Servicing a Genesis is far cheaper, however, especially since the first five years and 50,000km of servicing are on the house.
Genesis claims mixed-cycled fuel consumption of 8.6 litres per 100 kilometres. On test we returned a close 9.1L/100km – impressive for a cars of its size and weight.
It’s hard not to be wooed by the C300’s presentation, both inside and out. The styling is pleasant and cohesive, the interior looks technical and sophisticated, and functionality is impressive.
But – the engine is perhaps not at the level of a car pushing six figures (more on that below). At $90,400 plus options and on-road costs, or $96,500 for the car we have here, it sails right past the $100,000 mark by the time you include on-road costs. That’s knocking on E-Class money.
The hard part for Benz is, whereas once you used to be able to negotiate on pricing, Mercedes-Benz Australia uses a no-haggle pricing model. The sticker you see on the window won’t budge. Your trade-in might be the best bargaining chip when trying to reduce your changeover amount.
With cars like the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Genesis G70, and Jaguar XE all markedly cheaper, the C-Class is playing a dangerous game – but for most buyers the monthly lease payments might still be within reason, and that’s the big selling point.
Positioned in roughly the same spec-zone, a BMW 330i has a starting price of just under $80,000 before options and on-road costs, and an Audi A4 45 TFSI from under $75,000 before you tick options looks like a veritable bargain.
Once you’ve parked a C300 in the driveway, it’ll be covered by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty for private buyers (or 200,000km for commercial-use vehicles).
Mercedes-Benz offers buyers prepaid servicing packages, meaning three years’ scheduled maintenance will cost $2650 or five years for $5200. Service intervals are every 12 months or 25,000km.
Factory-claimed fuel consumption puts the C300 at 7.3 litres per 100km. On test, running to and from work for the most part, but with round trips from Melbourne to Ballarat and Melbourne to Castlemaine on the weekend, the freeway-skewed actual figure came to rest at 7.5L/100km.
|At a glance||2022 Genesis G80 2.5T RWD||2022 Mercedes-Benz C300|
|Warranty||Five years / unlimited km||Five years / unlimited km|
|Service intervals||12 months or 10,000km||12 months or 25,000km|
|Servicing costs||Free for five years or 50,000km||$2650 (3 years), $5200 (5 years)|
|Fuel cons. (claimed)||8.6L/100km||7.3L/100km|
|Fuel cons. (on test)||9.1L/100km||7.5L/100km|
|Fuel type||95 octane premium unleaded||98-octane premium unleaded|
|Fuel tank size||65L||66L|
More of us need to jump back behind the wheel of a large, rear-wheel-drive sedan just as a refresher.
I already know my elders will state its hip point is too low and it’s hard to get in and out of – which I agree with and health does come first – but the trick is to focus on what it’s like once you’re seated and driving. Which to me feels akin to a golden-era BMW, which is a huge compliment.
I felt slightly this way after spending six months with a Genesis G70 long-term loan last year. Now the European-ness is even more pronounced with this new-generation Genesis G80.
While I can pinpoint a few exact reasons why, like its steering and poised suspension tune, that would be pigeonholing and unfair. The whole experience feels truly ‘European premium’ if you were to adjectivise the saying, including everything from the materials inside the cabin to the way the rear-drive chassis is built.
When you first set off, you instantly notice how quiet the thing is. Putting about town is a wafty and serene affair, as the cabin doesn’t seem to let in outside fanfare to interfere with your commute. The optional adaptive suspension system works well on the daily grind, too, with the most comfortable mode being just about calm enough to do the whole luxury car thing on our roads.
The 2022 Genesis G80 has its multiple suspension tunes calibrated and validated in Australia, so it’s not a surprise or pot-luck as to why it rides well locally. Still, it’s not perfect, as the Comfort suspension mode still errs on the side of firm versus comfort, somewhat against the name of the program itself.
However, with that inherent firmness comes composure; something that European cars often deliver in spades. The steering weight is chunky and big like the tiller itself, and the other controls feel direct and connected too.
Moving things up into Sport does make the car more capable and fun to throw about, but the powertrain never once eggs you on to do that. The 2.5-litre turbo four-cylinder isn’t slow by any means, but it’s not brisk either.
It produces a healthy 224kW/422Nm routed through the eight-speed automatic – with the torque on tap for nearly 2500rpm – but it also moves nearly 1900kg of car. That means any briskness you were hoping for is drowned out by its weight.
It’s what I mean about it never encouraging bad behaviour. If anything, the driveline rather encourages you to mosey about and instead enjoy the quiet and luxurious ambiance offered by the cabin.
The only time it ever felt underpowered was with four adults on board and trying to overtake in a triple-digit speed zone, but even then the decision to lay on the power just requires some foresight. It’s easy enough to drive and be content with the performance on offer and not have to step up to the twin-turbo model.
Another reason is the handling, as an entry-level four-cylinder car is still a hoot in terms of performance driving. It has far less weight over the front axle, which translates to a more nimble-feeling and responsive front end on a good road.
It’ll also communicate what’s going on well, as slippery conditions and the odd bumpy corner will result in some correctional steering efforts.
When you set it to Sport and begin to tango, the Genesis G80 will oblige, but most importantly it feels fun, involving, and on par with the sedans we know, love, and will compare it to from Europe.
As an Aussie-road, rural-town hopper, the C300 gets a massive gold star for its impressive comfort and refinement.
Engine noise, wind and road intrusion are nice and quiet. It sits firmly on the road from a steering perspective, with a nice airy float over bumps and dips in the road surface.
If your trip is from city limits to a weekend coastal or country house, take the C-Class every time.
Interestingly, the C300 felt less accomplished around town. Not bad, but not at the top of its field.
Steering is hyper-alert right off centre, but then becomes light and lacking in feel as lock is wound on. I don’t quite understand what Mercedes’s engineers were striving for, but it can make the car feel nervous rolling around town.
The brakes also take some getting used to. Actually, I never quite got the hang of them. The pedal stroke is inconsistent, meaning in some situations a big push on the pedal will barely slow the car, but other times a light graze will throw out the anchor.
It makes stopping smoothly difficult, and a bit frustrating if you have passengers in the car, who think you’re just trying to upset them.
No issues with the 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine, however. It offers accessible performance, and is happy trundling about town, but can dig deep and launch with plenty of energy if you need.
Running alongside the engine is a 48-volt mild hybrid system. It can fill in gaps from the engine between gears, contribute a little push under acceleration, or help the engine shut down while coasting. It’s not like a Lexus hybrid, though, and can’t fully power the car in low-speed driving.
The nine-speed automatic is as good a companion as you’ll find too. For the most part you won’t pick what it’s doing, and that’s about as good as you can hope for in a prestige car.
Probably not something most owners will be too worried about, but the C300 also brings a cheerful little exhaust note with it too. Something that’s missing from the C200’s smaller 1.5-litre engine.
|Key details||2022 Genesis G80 2.5T RWD||2022 Mercedes-Benz C300|
|Engine||2.5-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol||2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol,
48-volt mild hybrid
|Power||224kW @ 5800rpm||190kW @ 5800rpm|
|Torque||422Nm @ 1650-4000rpm||400Nm @ 2000–3200rpm|
|Drive type||Rear-wheel drive||Rear-wheel drive|
|Transmission||Eight-speed torque convertor automatic||Nine-speed torque converter automatic|
|Power to weight ratio||119.9kW/t||109kW/t|
People shop with a budget, even at the premium end of the spectrum, so every dollar is important. It is difficult to place a price on badge cachet, however, but we do know that ‘Mercedes-Benz’ carries more financial weight when boasting about your new car than does ‘Genesis’.
That doesn’t mean we ignore the price of purchase, which in this instance falls in favour of the Genesis by a slim $4000. Both our test cars came with optional extras, the Genesis more-so, which raised its price well beyond the Benz’s $105K drive-away.
A lot of those features are nice-to-have (not needs) that our Benz test car did not match – such as twin rear entertainment screens, 18-way adjustable front seats, tri-zone climate control and remote smart park assist. So, if we remove the $13K luxury package, the Genesis wins the affordability question and matches the Benz’s features and equipment in key areas.
Then there’s the $5200 you will save on servicing costs by buying the Genesis, which is a big factor because the Genesis has shorter 10,000km servicing intervals. The Genesis will erode a slice of that advantage because it is less fuel-efficient, but at least it only requires 95RON premium compared to the Benz’s more discerning 98RON palette.
The Benz’s interior looks more special than the Genesis’s thanks in part to the huge portrait-oriented infotainment screen, but also the classy combination of shapes and materials used throughout. That’s not to say the G80’s interior is low-rent – it’s not – it is just a more traditional take on luxury, which is surprising for a brand less than ten years old when compared to a brand with almost 130 years behind it.
Interior space is another win to the Genesis but we expected this because it is considerably longer and wider. Interestingly, the C-Class has the more spacious boot. So if you prioritise cargo over passengers, the smaller Benz is a better choice.
Safety is too close to call – on the surface – but look deeper and the Benz again asserts itself. Both cars have been awarded five stars by ANCAP, and both have what appears to be comprehensive safety suites. But some of the Genesis’s gear is hidden in extra-cost options packs, such as reverse AEB and forward attention warning.
As for how the two drive, neither car cuts corners in this important criteria. Getting from A to B is an experience to savour in both vehicles as they glide serenely through societal clutter. Surprisingly, the Genesis has the edge in ride composure and sound suppression, although the Benz’s ride is softer and more refined – but less dynamic as a result. The Genesis is heavier which holds its more powerful engine back from being a significant real-world advantage, but both cars have the power and performance to be effortless driving machines.
Overall, when it comes to choosing between the two, it’s hard to look past the Genesis’s affordability – even at this price point – and its larger, more versatile interior. It is better equipped and marginally more enjoyable to drive, too, although the missing active safety systems are a shame.
But, if cutting-edge interior presentation is your preference over traditionally style opulence, the Mercedes-C300 ticks enough boxes in other areas to justify such a decision.
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