2008 C-Class New Car Test Drive
The 2008 Mercedes-Benz C-Class brings all-new versions of these entry-luxury sedans. Longer and wider than last year's models, they accommodate four or five occupants with much more interior room than before. They also offer improved performance and better fuel economy than last year's models.
The small family sedan that started out as the 'baby Benz' in 1982 and morphed into the C-Class has matured through three generations into the company's most popular model worldwide, with more than 6 million units sold. This latest generation of the smallest Mercedes-Benz sedan marks a big step in its maturation.
The C-Class comes in two distinctive personalities: Sport and Luxury. Each gets its own exterior styling and interior design. The C300 and C350, which replace the previous C280 and C320, indicate their more powerful V6 engines. And 4MATIC all-wheel drive is available.
The 2008 C-Class is now much closer in size, looks, and behavior to the larger E-Class, yet with a lighter touch and feel all its own.
We found the 2008 Mercedes C350 Sport feels strong but light, zippy but substantial. Handling is crisper than with the previous models. It feels sportier, less plush than before. And these cars are quick. Mercedes says the C300 can accelerate from 0-60 mph in about 7.2 seconds, which is quite zippy, while the C350 can reach 60 from a standstill in just 6.2 seconds, which is quite quick.
We found the C350 Sport comfortable, with seats that were containing when cornering. The layout of the controls is very good, without a lot of learning labor involved in operating the car. And the available Harman Kardon stereo sounds fantastic.
Initially, the U.S. market will get only these two sedan models, and in due course, the U.S. model range will expand to include diesel-engine versions, 4Matic all-wheel-drive versions, and a high-performance AMG model with a V8 engine. No coupe version is planned, and there will be no station wagon version for the U.S. market.
An AMG Sport package of exterior and interior trim items, wheels and tires will be available as an option when the car reaches the U.S. market in August 2007.
The entry-priced 2008 Mercedes-Benz C300 comes with a 2.8-liter V6 and a choice between a seven-speed automatic and a six-speed manual. The C350 uses a 3.5-liter V6 with the seven-speed automatic. The C300 4MATIC features a full-time all-wheel-drive system. Standard wheels and tires are 17-inch, with 18-inch wheels optional.
Options include leather upholstery, Thermotronic automatic climate control, navigation, Panorama roof, AMG Sport package, Adaptive Light System, Advanced Agility Control, bi-xenon lamps, Bluetooth, Comand APS with storage for up to 1000 music tracks, the Intelligent Light System, Keyless Go, multi-contour seats, Parktronic, TeleAid emergency communications, twin-sunroof Panorama roof, and 18-inch AMG split-spoke alloy wheels.
Package P1, standard on the C350, contains the satellite radio, heated seats, autodimming lamps, folding mirrors, a garage door opener and rain-sensing wipers. Package P2 adds bi-xenon headlamps, cornering fog lamps, a split folding rear seat for cargo versatility, and a rear sunshade. The Multimedia package adds Comand navigation with a larger seven-inch screen, a six-disc DVD changer with a PCMCIA slot, Harman Kardon Logic7 surround sound system and voice controls. An Advanced Agility Package features variable shock absorbers and revised transmission shift points.
Safety features include seven airbags: two adaptive airbags for the driver and front passenger, a kneebag for the driver, two sidebags in the front seat backrests and two large windowbags which extend from the A to the C-pillar during a side impact. The driver, front passenger and outboard rear seats all have belt tensioners and belt force limiters. The standard head restraints operate on the Neck Pro system. During a rear-end collision, the padded surfaces are pushed forward to support the heads of the driver and front passenger, reducing the risk of whiplash.
Active safety equipment that comes standard includes ABS, traction control, Brake Assist, Electronic Brake-force Distribution, and an Electronic Stability Program. An Adaptive Brake system primes the braking system in panic situations, and, whenever the windshield wipers are on applies light, continuous contact to dry the brake discs.