What's new, highlights, and safety info for the 2009 Mercedes-Benz C-class.
Mercedes-Benz's smallest offering in the U.S. is the C-class. Available only as a four-door sedan (other markets get a C-class wagon), the C offers buyers a choice of two V-6 engines, and is available with all-wheel drive. The C300 is powered by a 228-hp, 3.0-liter V-6, while the pricier C350 comes with a 268-hp, 3.5-liter V-6. A six-speed manual is available on the C300, but most C-classes are equipped with an excellent seven-speed automatic transmission. For those who want even more power, the AMG-tuned C63 comes with a sweet-sounding 451-hp, 6.2-liter V-8 engine that, along with other extensive changes, helps turn the C-class into one of the world's best sports sedans.
Redesigned for 2008, the C-class has handsome exterior styling that mimics the top-of-the-line S-class sedan. C-class Luxury models come with a more traditional upright grille with the signature three-pointed star hood ornament, while the Sport models have the three-pointed star within the grille itself, a treatment that Mercedes usually reserves for its coupes and convertibles. Inside, the C-class is comfortable up front, but the back seat is small compared to its competitors—even the Honda Civic has more interior space. Controls are laid out logically and have an expensive feel to their actuation, but some of the interior plastics in the C-class look a bit cheap.
Over the road, all versions of the C-class feel solid and refined. Few noises make it into the hushed cabin. Handling errs on the side of luxury—even on Sport models—and the C300 and C350 cannot match the dynamics of the BMW 3-series or the Infiniti G37. The Sport models improve the handling by firming up the chassis, but even these seem to be more about solidity and luxury than carving up curvy roads. The C63 AMG has a specially tuned suspension that makes it ready for the racetrack.