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The C-Class sedan is available in three different models, each with a different engine: the C250, C300 4Matic and C350. A smooth-shifting seven speed automatic is the only transmission choice for the C-Class.
The C250 is powered by a direct fuel-injected 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, rather than a 2.5-liter as suggested by the name (German automakers no longer strictly preserve the link between model name and engine displacement). The little engine sips fuel and produces 201 horsepower and 229 lb-ft of torque from just 2000 rpm, good for a zero-to-60 mph sprint of seven seconds.
The midrange model, the C300 4Matic, is also the only variant to include all-wheel drive. Powered by a 3.0-liter V6, this model overcomes the 145 lb weight of its all-wheel drive system with 228 ponies and 221 lb-ft of torque to match the C250′s zero-to-60 mph time.
The C350 is the sprinter of the family, utilizing a direct-injected 3.5-liter V6 that cranks out 302 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque and enables zero-to-60 mph runs comfortably under six seconds.
The C-Class can be had in Luxury or Sport guise. “Luxury” models include a traditional Mercedes-Benz hood ornament above an upright grille, along with understated wheels and fascia trim. “Sport” models are differentiated by a large Mercedes-Benz badge set into a somewhat more rearward-leaning grille as well as a more aggressive front fascia (including LED lights) and wheels; the C350 comes only as a Sport model.
The interior is dominated by a prominent trim panel (finished in wood or an imitation aluminum) which stretches from the center air vents along the passenger side dashboard, adding visual width. Behind an aggressive three-spoke, 12-button multifunction steering wheel lie deeply recessed tubular gauges featuring a 4.5-inch color display in the center of the speedometer, which can call-up numerous screens and functions related to audio, telephone, navigation and vehicle settings.
A fixed 5.8-inch central display screen is surrounded by a stepped hood that flows across from the instrument cluster and continues into the passenger side through a subtle character line. The head unit includes a Bluetooth interface for wireless audio streaming and hands-free phone operation, an FM phase-diversity twin tuner, MP3compatible CD drive, HD/AM/weatherband and a USB port in the center console.
Major standard features include a power sunroof, dual zone climate control, eight-way power seats and Bluetooth audio streaming.
Notable options packages include the Premium Package Power front seats with driver memory, split-folding rear seats, SIRIUS satellite radio, 4-way power lumbar support (driver only), iPod/MP3 Media Interface (in center console), Harman/Kardon LOGIC7 surround-sound system and Heated Front Seats) and the Multimedia Package (COMAND system with hard-drive navigation), enhanced voice control for audio, telephone and navigation, SIRIUS real-time traffic service, in-dash six-disc DVD/CD changer and SD card slot, Gracenote media database, 10GB hard-drive with Music Register and a rearview camera.
All C-Class models boast Agility Control, which provides the benefits of both soft and stiff shock absorbers. Each twin-tube shock absorber is fitted with a hydraulic by-pass piston that acts like a very soft shock absorber to effectively dampen road noise and tire vibration. However, over bumpy or uneven roads, the by-pass piston is out of the picture, a move that preserves the improved steering and handling response of a stiffer shock absorber.
Mercedes-Benz has long been known for its safety features, and the C-Class Sedan will only add to that reputation. In addition to ABS and ESP stability control, the car boasts nine supplemental restraints including two-stage front air bags, a knee air bag for the driver and pelvic air bags which work together with curtain and side air bags to provide extra protection for front occupants in dangerous side-impact collisions.
Also standard is an “ATTENTION ASSIST” system that can alert the driver to the first signs of drowsiness, a factor that causes more than 100,000 accidents a year in the U.S. A steering sensor is coupled to smart software that uses 70 parameters to establish a unique driver profile during the first 20 minutes of driving. Between 50 and 112 mph, the system identifies the erratic steering corrections drivers make as they begin to get drowsy and triggers an audible warning and a “Time for a Rest?” message with a coffee cup icon in the instrument cluster.
Optional safety equipment includes the Lane Keeping Assist system, which alerts the driver by simulating a rumble strip vibration in the steering wheel if the car drifts from its lane without the turn signals on. Part of the Lane Tracking Package, it operates at speeds above 37 mph via a system that recognizes lane markings, thanks to a small camera in the windshield and a computer that analyzes the video images.
The Lane Tracking Package also includes Blind Spot Assist, which monitors both blind spots behind and to the side of the vehicle. Whenever a turn signal is activated with a vehicle in the blind spot, the driver gets visual and audible warnings.