- Quiet, refined interiors
- Strong engine lineup
- Responsive handling (Sport and C63)
- Fuel economy (C250)
- Limited rear legroom
- Numb steering
- Base trims lack pizzazz
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.
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.