The goal of most automakers, Mercedes-Benz included, is to get buyers into the family at a relatively early age, then give them a clear upgrade path as their vehicle needs (or tastes) change. That makes the Mercedes-Benz C Class sedan and coupe a key model for the German luxury brand, as it’s very likely the first ownership experience that many will have with the three-pointed star.
Its critical, then, that Mercedes-Benz builds the C Class in enough variants to ensure near-universal appeal. Like the all-you-can-eat buffet at Golden Corral, the C Class offers something for everyone, from the low-point-of-entry C 250, to the all-season-capable C 300 or C 350 4Matic, to the high-performance C 63 AMG. Most are even available with the buyer’s choice of two or four doors, in Sport or Luxury trims as well.
The C Class line was revamped for 2012 with a few significant changes, including the introduction of the coupe and the return of four-cylinder power to a Mercedes-Benz engine bay. Entry-level C 250 models come powered by a turbocharged, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, rated at 201 horsepower and 229 pound-feet of torque, and mated exclusively to a seven-speed automatic transmission. If you need more than that, the next rung of the C Class ladder is the C 300 4Matic, which comes with a 248 horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 and a seven-speed automatic gearbox. Want more power and rear-wheel-drive? The C 350 delivers 302 horsepower from the same 3.5-liter V-6 used in C 300 models, also relying on the same seven-speed gearbox.
The very highest rung is reserved for the C63 AMG, which comes in coupe or sedan form and serves up 451 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque from its 6.2-liter V-8. That’s enough to get the coupe from 0-60 mph in 4.4 seconds, giving Mercedes-Benz a semi-legitimate competitor to the BMW M3, long considered the standard-bearer of the class.
Inside, the C Class goes for a modern, upscale feel, with aluminum and metallic trim taking the place of more traditional wood grain trim. It wouldn’t look right in an S Class or even an E Class, but it works well in the C Class, which can easily hold its own against the rival BMW 3 Series and Audi A4. Front seats should be to everyone’s liking, although rear seats are a bit cramped for those particularly long of leg. In fairness, the same can be said for rivals from BMW and Audi, too, so those needing more back seat leg room will need to consider shopping the more expensive E Class.
Though gateway vehicles, all C Class models come well-appointed with standard features, including dual-zone automatic climate control; Bluetooth phone integration; Bluetooth audio streaming; HomeLink universal garage door opener and a power tilt / slide sunroof. Mercedes’ telematics and concierge system appears in its second generation, called mbrace2, and it now includes apps like Facebook and Yelp, a Valet Protect function, Speed Alert, a Driving Journal and a Curfew Minder service (further proof that Mercedes is targeting ever younger buyers).
For complete details on 2013 Mercedes-Benz C Class models, see our comprehensive review on The Car Connection