Once in a while we get a pleasant surprise. When the 2022 Mercedes-Benz C300 sedan showed up to our offices, our expectations were mid-center. What we got was a new look at how the mid-center can be a sweet spot.

For 2022, the W206 Mercedes-Benz C300 grew a little more over the last generation, 1-inch in wheelbase and 2.5-inches in length. These little growth spurts are why the front-wheel drive A-Class is now the entry level sedan in North America.

Styling is all-new though from across the parking lot barely discernible from the last. The changes are in the draping of sheet metal and the details of new design elements like the LED lighting front and rear and is minute forms.

Inside is where the new C300 really sings the songs of the traditional Merc sedans, hearkening back to the design themes of the 1970s and 1980s with its round vent pots and sculptured dash. Modernity comes with digital instrument and center stack screens, lots of touch sensitive controls and LED mood lighting.

Its Sienna MB-Tex seats were another throwback to the good old days, a robust color of vinyl that’s so comfortable you might not actually miss leather – though it can be optioned. A day behind the wheel is comfortable and rewarding in this place.

Materials and switch gear along with all the best-in-business tech features really make the $49,000 as tested price of the Mercedes-Benz C300 Pinnacle we have here feel well a bargain.

Driving it is another bright spot. While at first the spec of its 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine does not wow, driving it sells. Its 255 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque do well to move the C300 in the same easy off the line and burst into speed way that Mercedes-Benz cars always have.

Its 9-speed automatic transmission shifts non-nonchalantly and with precision. It has a 48V mild hybrid system that integrates a 20 horsepower motor generator into the transmission that can provide extra power, start the engine and at times maintain a coast with the engine turned off.

It provides more an increase in efficiency rather than a strong hybrid EV mode per say. It’s rated at 23 mpg city, 35 mpg highway and 27 mpg combined. In our week with it we achieved 28 mpg combined which is commendable given the AC was on at all times and we always turned off its annoying idle start-stop system.

Its ride too brought us to our place of exceeded expectations. With a four-link front suspension and five-link rear, the C300 comes standard with automatically adaptive dampers which can adjust on the fly or to your drive mode selection.

They allow that pillowy Mercedes-Benz ride at leisure but can stiffen things up when you start rowing the oars harder or dial up t he drive mode. These with the solid body structure, well sound isolated and insulated – you have the best of old and new.

We came away impressed and with the takeaway that the C300 though seemingly the middle of the pack as it relates to Mercedes-Benz sedans may well be the sweet spot. There are far less expensive and far more expensive. Here you get all of the experience, the feel and the smell for a song.