Looking more like a compact version of the new S-Class than ever, with an intriguing set of powertrains, quite possible the best interior in the class, and better-than-ever handling, the 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class was an early contender for Motor Authority’s Best Car To Buy 2015 award.

We first drove the 2015 C-Class way back in March of this year, and at the time, we were struck first by its looks. That impression remains today. “At a glance, the 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is beautiful. Look closer, and that perception deepens. From the aggressive but not angry face to the sculpted hood and sides, over the architecturally arched roofline into the taut, balanced tail, the exterior of the new C-Class is S-Class in miniature, feeling every bit as elegant as the brand’s flagship—just more compact.”

The interior, likewise, makes a lasting impact. “Inside, the theme continues, with Mercedes’ new round-vent and waterfall-console themes executed in materials that range from satisfying to truly impressive. Even in models closer to base specification—where rubbered plastics and piano-black finishes meet MB Tex synthetic upholstery, the sense of quality and careful design shine through; outfitted with a full leather interior and wood or aluminum trim, the C-Class’s cabin truly rises into the premium ranks, despite its mainstream size.”

2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Add to the visual appeal the effect of 3.7 inches more length, 3.0 inches greater wheelbase, and another 1.6 inches in width, and the cabin’s spaciousness adds another dimension to the C-Class’s luxury feel.

Of course, no car in this class could compete at the world-class level, let alone win our Best Car To Buy award, without an impressive chassis and engaging powertrains. Fortunately, the C-Class—mostly—delivers here, too.

The Airmatic suspension, optional on C300 and standard on C400 models, makes for a marvelous combination of ride quality and handling. Even in Sport+ mode, however, the overall setup left us wanting just a bit more edge—but perhaps Mercedes-Benz is saving that for the C63 AMG.

The engines, on the other hand, are quite rewarding, even in non-AMG form. The biggest surprise in our time with the C-Class is the appeal of the C300, powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder rated at 241 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. The C400, while stout in its 329-horsepower, 354-pound-foot output from its 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6, is perhaps a bit less engaging on the whole, owing to its greater weight and the resulting effect on handling and balance.

Add to this heady mix of class-leading interior, satisfying engines, and ample space Mercedes-Benz’s proven and incredibly capable Intelligent Drive assistance systems, and you have a remarkable entry at this point in the luxury sedan market. The Distronic Plus radar-adaptive cruise control and lane-following ability make for a car that very nearly drives itself, today, without taking out a second mortgage. Beyond that, there’s a host of other technology, including self-parking, a 360-degree camera system, the ability to read traffic signs and speed limits, and much more.

Will all of this combine to outrank the other 14 nominees and yield Motor Authority’s 2015 Best Car To Buy award for the 2015 C-Class? Find out on November 10th. The question is simple; the answer is anything but. How do you determine one car is better than t... in Motor Authority Polls on LockerDome