2013 Mercedes-Benz C Class Review

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Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
June 26, 2013

For those who are image-conscious yet value-conscious, the 2013 Mercedes-Benz C Class sedans and coupes make a lot of sense.

The four-cylinder Mercedes-Benz C-Class made its quiet debut on the market last year, making it the first Benz 'four' in the U.S. in nearly a decade. Coinciding with an extensive refresh for the entire lineup, the result is a C Class model line that's more fuel-efficient, modern in look and feel, and full up to snuff in connectivity and safety-tech.

You'll notice the new details that the C Class sedans received last year, but it isn't a stretch to say that the former design was essentially carried over. With a careful retouch, the C Class can still be had in Luxury or Sport guise, with the Sport treatment standing out for its emphatic, salad-plate-sized emblem over a barrel grille. An all-new Coupe lineup is the big news; with some of the same front-end details yet an abbreviated, more aggressive roofline, the Coupe takes its own tack yet definitely looks like one of the family. Inside either model, the C Class has a sporty, modern look with revised metallic trims; it's not appointed like an S Class, but the look is right for those cross-shopping the A4 or 3-Series.

With the base C 250 models you get a turbo-charged, direct-injected 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, rated at 201 horsepower and 229 pound-feet of torque. This engine is fuel-efficient and fun, and it actually feels quicker than the previous V-6 C 300 (its official 7.1 seconds to 60 mph is the same). The C 250 is available only in rear-wheel drive, with a seven-speed automatic transmission changing gears. In the middle, the C 300 4Matic models get their motivation from a new 248-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 and are again offered with a seven-speed automatic. A 302-hp version of this same smooth 3.5-liter engine, making 273 pound-feet of torque is installed in C 350 models. At 5.9-seconds to 60 mph, they're quick, but not shockingly so. Like its stablemates, the rear-drive C 350 is available only with a seven-speed automatic transmission.

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Up at the top of the lineup stands the C 63 AMG Coupe, which can get to 60 mph in a very brisk 4.4 seconds thanks to a 451-horsepowe, 443-pound-foot 6.2-liter V-8 engine. It's not all about straight-line performance, however, with a highly tuned suspension that raises the C 63's performance to something on par with the class benchmark, the BMW M3.

The C Class models provide the utmost comfort for front occupants, but those in back, even if they can get in, will be left wedging their legs against the back of the front seats whether you're looking at the sedan or coupe. In all fairness, when looking at rival models like the Audi A4 or BMW 3-Series, that's just how it is in this class. You do tend to hear the engine a bit, but road noise is hushed much better in the C Class models than in other small sport sedans.

Mercedes-Benz continues to sell the C Class in two main trim lines, Luxury and Sport, which get a number of details that can give them a dramatically different look. If you're unsure between these two lines, choose first by appearance, as within the basic feature set of each you can otherwise pick and choose options to build whatever you want. Standard equipment even on the base C250 includes dual-zone automatic climate control; Bluetooth hands-free calling; Bluetooth audio streaming; cruise control, a HomeLink universal garage-door opener; and a power tilt/sliding sunroof.

New for 2013 is the next-generation mbrace2 telematics and concierge system, which now includes a mobile app for remote horn and light operation and Valet Protect functionality, as well as Speed Alert, Driving Journal, and Curfew Minder services. There are also apps for Google Local Search, Facebook, and Yelp, among others.

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2013 Mercedes-Benz C Class

Styling

The dramatic exterior and modern interior of the C Class models fit cohesively together, better than other smaller sport sedans.

The 2013 Mercedes-Benz C Class bridges a pretty wide gap between entry luxury and compact performance, and with the new C Class Coupe range that the automaker introduced last year, as well as updated versions of the C Class sedans, it's up to that task in appearance, inside and out.

Both models share a dramatic front end, combining sharp angles with graceful curves and high-tech elements like LED daytime running lights. Inside, purposeful ergonomics meld with modern Mercedes styling in varying degrees of sport and luxury, depending on the trim line and body style.

With last year's refresh, the C Class got a more prominent grille to match other new Mercedes models, but the overall design has been carried forward, with a smooth, gently arcing roofline paired with smooth side sheetmetal and crisp front and rear details. Sculpted strakes in the hood, and especially along the side, add expressiveness and more 'action' to the design.

The Coupe draws on its four-door sibling's cues to deliver a car that's unmistakably a Mercedes-Benz, but at the same time, it's a bit sportier and sexier than the sedan in its proportions.

There's more race-inspired detail in the Coupe, too. While sedans edge toward the luxurious end in most of their guises, Coupe's get revised trim and a different steering wheel, with refined materials and premium finishes at the forefront in either model--though buyers can configure a very sporty-looking sedan as well.

At the zenith of the C Class range, the C 63 AMG Coupe is much more aggressive and dramatic inside and out, with wider fender arches, AMG badges and unique interior elements. And if the raspy sounds of the 6.2-liter V-8 engine weren't enough, twin chrome tailpipes signal this model from the rear.

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2013 Mercedes-Benz C Class

Performance

There are several degrees of sportiness to the 2013 Mercedes-Benz C Class range, but the C 63 AMG pushes it to new heights. .

While most of the 2013 Mercedes-Benz C Class lineup is as sharp-edged as some other sport-sedan models in this class, and comfort is part of the C Class models' appeal compared to others, these sedans and coupes do a great job in delivering satisfying performance, with a more nimble driving demeanor than you might expect.

Last year marked a serious refresh for the entire lineup. The four-cylinder engine is back in the U.S. C Class family, while new V-6 engines are smoother and sweeter than ever.

With the base C 250 models you get a turbo-charged, direct-injected 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, rated at 201 horsepower and 229 pound-feet of torque. This engine is fuel-efficient and fun, and it actually feels quicker than the previous V-6 C 300 (its official 7.1 seconds to 60 mph is the same). The C250 is available only in rear-wheel drive, with a seven-speed automatic transmission changing gears.

In the middle, the C 300 4Matic models get their motivation from a V-6 and are again offered with a seven-speed automatic. For 2013 they drop the previous engine in favor of a 248-hp version of Mercedes' new-generation 3.5-liter 60-degree V-6, which has direct injection.

The C 350 gets a 302-hp version of this same smooth 3.5-liter engine, making 273 pound-feet of torque. At 5.9-seconds to 60 mph, it's quick, but not shockingly so. Like its stablemates, the rear-drive C 350 is available only with a seven-speed automatic transmission.

Up at the top of the lineup stands the C 63 AMG Coupe, which can get to 60 mph in a very brisk 4.4 seconds thanks to a 451-horsepowe, 443-pound-foot 6.2-liter V-8 engine. It's not all about straight-line performance, however, with a highly tuned suspension that raises the C 63's performance to something on par with the class benchmark, the BMW M3.

As for the rest of the C Class models, expect the driving feel to be quite engaging, yet with the straight-line stability and refinement that distinguish most of the models in the M-B lineup. The C250, in particular, punches above its weight in this regard thanks to a lighter, more nimble feeling. C350 models feel like fast, no-compromise touring sedans or grand-touring coupes.

Despite their performance, only the C63 AMG gives up comfort in its quest to tame the twistier bits of tarmac.

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2013 Mercedes-Benz C Class

Comfort & Quality

Limited back-seat space is the consequence of the C Class's compact dimensions, although it has the refinement of a larger car.

Interior build quality and comfort have typically been a bit better in the C Class sedans than they have in other smaller sport sedans. And the latest models remain faithful to this impression, as one of the best choices for long-distance touring among vehicles this size.

You'll have no problem getting comfortable in the C Class's front seats; they're among the best in this class, with enough support and comfort for both long hauls or somewhat spirited driving. The driving position is at a good height, and highly adjustable for different body types, thanks to a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, power seat adjustments, and the tall, glassy cabin easing visibility.

Just don't plan on having adults ride in back, even across town, until you check out the space back there. With legroom at a premium, if you plan to scoot the front seats near the back of their travel, there's almost no rear legroom left.

Trunk space is on the smaller end, at 12.4 cubic feet in sedans and 11.7 cubic feet in the coupes, but it feels about right given the size of the rest of the vehicle. You'll have no problem fitting a couple of airline carry-ons back there.

Opting for the C63 AMG will provide seats with just as much comfort, but much more aggressive bolsters that fit more snugly.

Seating aside, interior appointments are fully to snuff for the American market, with an array of cupholders, cubbies, and door pockets, plus a roomy console and large glove box. And while we haven't put C Class interior materials in the top tier in the past, the current version impresses with mostly luxury-grade plastics; nice leather; and wood, metal, and other special trims.

Throughout most of the lineup, the cabin has a quiet, refined feel that's above and beyond most models in this class. Road thrum over coarse surfaces--a weak point for many sportier small sedans--is really minimal here.

9

2013 Mercedes-Benz C Class

Safety

The Mercedes-Benz C Class has solid safety ratings, and some active-safety features that aren't typical in this class.

The 2013 Mercedes-Benz C Class models are safe, secure picks, with good safety ratings and a pretty impressive roster of safety features. And we applaud that the brand has brought many of its latest accident-avoidance technologies--like Attention Assist--to these lower-priced, higher-volume models where they're bound to make more of a difference.

The IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) gives it top marks of "good" in all crash-test categories; but the federal government hasn't crash-tested the 2013 Mercedes-Benz C Class yet in any form.

And on top of that, the roster of safety features is solid: 13-way airbag protection via 11 airbags; active head restraints; adaptive brakes; stability and traction control; rain-sensing wipers; and even Attention Assist, which monitors the driver for alertness.

Optional safety extras include blind spot monitoring, rearview camera, parking guidance, adaptive highbeam headlights, and lane-keeping assist.

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2013 Mercedes-Benz C Class

Features

The 2013 C Class models are luxury cars, and equipped that way--and their connectivity and tech offerings keep getting better.

Mercedes-Benz continues to sell the C Class in two main trim lines, Luxury and Sport, which get a number of details that can give them a dramatically different look. If you're unsure between these two lines, choose first by appearance, as within the basic feature set of each you can otherwise pick and choose options to build whatever you want.

Standard equipment even on the base C250 includes dual-zone automatic climate control; Bluetooth hands-free calling; Bluetooth audio streaming; cruise control, a HomeLink universal garage-door opener; and a power tilt/sliding sunroof. New for 2013 is the next-generation mbrace2 telematics and concierge system, which now includes a mobile app for remote horn and light operation and Valet Protect functionality, as well as Speed Alert, Driving Journal, and Curfew Minder services. There are also apps for Google Local Search, Facebook, and Yelp, among others.

A very long list of individual options are available, including (some of the highlights): heated front seats; a Harmon/Kardon Logic7 sound system; iPod/MP3 interface; voice control; and COMAND hard-drive-based navigation/infotainment system.

A range of packages are also available, combining some of the most common options into popular configurations. Appearance upgrades such as illuminated door sills, a roof spoiler, a painted sports grille, and upgraded wheels are all offered as standalone options.

C63 AMG models bring a host of performance upgrades, in addition to a long list of interior features including power steering adjustment, power heated AMG sport seats, Harman Kardon 12-speaker sound, a power rear sunshade, and special AMG instrumentation with a race timer.

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2013 Mercedes-Benz C Class

Fuel Economy

Fuel-efficiency is decent with the four-cylinder or V-6 engines, but its no surprise that the C 63 AMG is a guzzler.

With both the Mercedes-Benz C Class, as well as another sport-sedan benchmark, the BMW 3-Series, going to base four-cylinder engines over the past year, fuel efficiency is now quite good for these premium sedans and coupes. At the far opposite end of the spectrum, the V-8-powered C 63 AMG earns ratings that are shockingly low for a compact coupe.

The C250 sedan scores 21 mpg city and 31 mpg highway for 25 mpg combined, according to the EPA. The C250 coupe matches the sedan's figures.

We can't yet give you official numbers for the 2013 C 300 4Matic, which got a new engine this year and hasn't yet been rated, but the C350 sedan has fared quite well, at 20 mpg city and 29 mpg highway for 23 mpg combined. At 19/28 mpg, the C350 coupe scores slightly worse.

It's no surprise that the powerful C 63 AMG, with its huge V-8, is something of a boat anchor fuel fuel economy--even though it's a rocket ship in performance. It scores an estimated 13/19 mpg for 15 mpg combined according to the EPA.

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January 25, 2016
For 2013 Mercedes-Benz C Class

an excellent and useful car

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I and my wife like it ! The car is duing all jobs we want it to due
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April 17, 2015
For 2013 Mercedes-Benz C Class

Out drives its competition but spends too much time at the dealer's service bays.

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I test drove all the entry level luxury cars and the 2013 C250 Sport's driving experience was superior to all. And I've owned 3 BMW's and 2 Audi's before. The steering is especially responsive and nearly... + More »
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April 17, 2015
For 2013 Mercedes-Benz C Class

C CLASS - A FINELY APPOINTED COUPE

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My 250C Class coupe is a finely appointed vehicle with great attention to detail on the interior. Panoramic sunroof is awesome. Forget about any rear seat room for passengers however - too small and just isn't... + More »
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