The C-Class Mercedes is offered in two distinct styles, luxury and sport. There are only a few exterior styling differences. The badge on the sport model is flat on the grille, while the luxury model carries the aspirational 3-starred hood ornament
The interior flows nicely from door handle to door handle with the center console being the focus of the car. The Sport model has a 3-starred steering wheel, perhaps to make up for the lack of the hood ornament.
The C-Class comes in all-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive. The transmission can be a six-speed manual with overdrive or seven-speed automatic with overdrive, or for the C63 AMG, a AMG speedshift plus seven-speed automatic. According to the EPA you will get anywhere from 17-18 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway, depending on the V-6 engine of the C-Class you pick. If you go for the V-8 engine your mileage goes down to 12 in the city and 19 in the highway. A flex-fuel option is available if you want to use ethanol instead of petroleum.
We drove the middle child, the C350 3.5-liter V-6, seven-speed automatic with 268 horsepower. The C350 comes as in Sport only. The baby child is a C300 3.0-liter V-6 that will give you 228-horsepower. The C300 is the car that allows you to choose between sport and luxury. You can pick the oldest sibling of the group, the high-performance C63 6.2-liter V-8 which grinds out 451-horsepower.
There are certain standard items one must have to be a luxury car these days. Some of those standards are dual-zone climate control, leather seats and a leather wrapped steering wheel. And don't forget the eight-way power front seats. Mercedes has all that and a moon roof to boot.
As much as people that buy Mercedes love their luxury they are also concerned about safety. Standard for safety on the C-Class is antilock brakes (ABS), traction control and an electronic stability program (ESP), and he 3-stage ESP system for the C63 AMG. Mercedes couples their 4Matic all-wheel drive with traction control to stabilize the car in those twisty, sharp, slippery corners.
The drive and handling of the C-Class is quintessentially Mercedes. The seats fit snugly and firmly, allowing for less body roll. The car holds the road on the twisty narrow street that takes me up the hill to my house. On the open road the rear-wheel drive gives me the G-force feel that I love so much.
Years ago a Mercedes was out of most of the common person's budget. With the C-Class a Mercedes has become common place on the road, yet Mercedes has been able to retain the aspirational desire of the common people to own a Mercedes. It is a rare talent to create more supply and still have the feel of exclusivity.
The main competitors for the C-Class are the Audi A4, and the BMW 3-Series. In recent years the field has added the Infiniti G37, the Lexus IS, and, even more recently, the Cadillac CTS.
Starting price for the C300 Sort sedan is $33,600. Expect to pay a little more for the luxury edition of the C300 at $31,248. The C350 luxury is a bargain at $39,750, and C63 AMG that bangs out 451 horsepower starts at $57,350.