The cheapest way to Mercedes-Benz refinement.
Mercedes-Benz’s C-class covers a broad spectrum of power, equipment, and price. As a driver’s car, the C-class doesn’t deliver the same all-around balance that makes the BMW 3-series so great. However, Mercedes places a larger emphasis on luxury and refinement. Every C-class has a quiet cabin, a composed ride, excellent build quality, and an assertive but well-mannered powertrain. The C-class offers comfortable seats; a slick, three-spoke, flat-bottomed steering wheel; and a 5.8-inch display that integrates HD Radio, Bluetooth, and a USB port. The downsized C250 achieves a 21/31 mpg fuel-economy rating, but its smallish displacement means it isn’t as potent as BMW’s 240-hp turbo four. The C350’s direct-injected 3.5-liter revs eagerly and accelerates quickly. Buyers who desire all-wheel drive can choose the C350 coupe or the C300 sedan, which uses a less-potent, 228-hp V-6. A smooth-shifting seven-speed automatic is standard, but it’s not quite as quick as the eight-speed gearboxes of some competitors. The proletarian C-class might cede some performance to the BMW 3-series, but for the C63 AMG, which packs a 6.2-liter V-8 that charges of the line with an authority that is absent in BMW’s M3. The BMW boasts a more neutral, tactile chassis, but the Mercedes is a different kind of fun on the track.
new for 2013
The C-class got a thorough refresh last year, headlined by the addition of a four-cylinder engine and a two-door body style. Accordingly, there are few changes this year for Mercedes’ smallest model. The new AMG Sports Package Plus bestows the C-class with a specially tuned exhaust, a sport interior with contrasting seatbelts, eighteen-inch wheels, and, on coupes, a revised front suspension.
ABS; front, side, front pelvis, side curtain, and driver’s knee air bags; traction and stability control; tire-pressure monitors; and drowsiness alert are standard. Automatic high-beams, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, swiveling headlights, parking sensors, and rear side air bags are optional.
More refined than a 3-series
Excellent build quality
C63 AMG is as good as an M3
Nav system has a steep learning curve
Not as nimble as a 3-series
Base Price Range: $36,255–$63,235
DRIVE: Rear-wheel, 4-wheel
TRIM LEVELS: C250, C300 4Matic, C350, C63 AMG
BODY STYLES: Coupe, sedan, 4- or 5-passenger
ENGINES: 1.8L turbo I-4, 201 hp, 229 lb-ft
3.0L V-6, 228 hp, 221 lb-ft
3.5L V-6, 302 hp, 273 lb-ft
6.2L V-8, 451/481 hp, 443 lb-ft
TRANSMISSION: 7-speed automatic
PASSENGER VOLUME: (coupe/sedan) 80.5/88.2 cu ft
CARGO SPACE: (coupe/sedan) 11.7/12.4 cu ft