All-Wheel Drive Sans Compromise One can hardly mutter the words "German," "luxury" and "all-wheel drive" without invoking visions of Audi. The company has worked hard to make its Quattro all-wheel-drive system synonymous with each of the phrases above, and its tireless marketing, successful motorsports programs and loyal fans have inextricably married the Four Rings to the power of all-wheel drive luxury. But Audi isn't the only German manufacturer putting power to all four wheels. Buyers have been happily bringing BMW xDrive models home for years, and Mercedes-Benz has a long and storied history of grips-at-all-four-corners innovation as well. From vehicles like the globe-conquering Unimog to the somewhat more civil G-Class, the Silver Arrow has more than a little experience when it comes to overcoming uncertain terrain. Beyond four-wheel drive systems, Mercedes has sold over one million 4Matic all-wheel drive vehicles in the U.S. since the system's debut here in 1989. These days, Benz offers 4Matic on 10 of its vehicle lines in a total of 21 variations, and for 2012, luxury coupe buyers can rejoice in the inclusion of both the E350 4Matic Coupe and the C350 4Matic Coupe to the horde. With rivals like the Audi A5 and BMW 335i xDrive Coupe already default choices for two-door shoppers who prefer the foul weather capability of all-wheel drive, will the newest additions to the Mercedes-Benz stable be able to keep the pace? We took to the C350 4Matic Coupe to find out. This time of year, Jackson Hole, Wyoming and its neighboring territories have precisely three weather conditions: "Snow," "About To Snow" and "Holy Hell, We're Going To Have To Resort To Cannibalism." We met the C350 4Matic Coupe deep in the throws of the latter while in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and if anything helped take our minds off the notion of being brunch for our fellow journalists, it was the striking image of the black-on-black two door lurking amidst the driving flakes. Up front, this Benz wears the same proud prow as its four-door relative, complete with a near vertical two-bar grille and a massive three-pointed star. We couldn't help but take comfort in the knowledge that, should we escape the fangs of our companions, it might be possible to use the dish-plate-sized emblem to signal low-flying aircraft. Angled projector headlamps with LED daytime running lights give the fascia an athletic appearance, and the lower valance's LED turn indicators and mesh insets help lend the impression this is a vehicle capable of dashing through the snow with glee. Designers have given the 2012 C350 4Matic Coupe a decidedly forward-leaning profile with pronounced front fender arches reaching nearly to the hood line, a raked character crease that stretches from the taillamps to the lower front fender and a long, angled nose. Whereas the big E-Class Coupe projects a more buttoned-down presence, the smaller C-Class Coupe is appropriately toned and muscular. Around back, the coupe features a rounded rear section with contoured LED taillamps, a subtle trunk lip spoiler and a …
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|MPG||13 City / 19 Hwy|
|Power||451 @ 6500 rpm|
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