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2002 Mercedes-Benz C Class Page 1

“Do not become distracted from traffic by use of COMAND !”

Going simply by these words you see whenever you turn on the ignition, the C320 would be a rather stern, businesslike disciplinarian. But that’s far from the truth: the C320 wagon is more stylish and fun to drive than any other wagon in the automaker’s past.

Although this is the first time a C-Class wagon has been sold in this country, the last generation C wagon was quite popular in Europe. Just like the sedan sold here, it was solid, comfortable, loaded with safety features, and with the right powertrain choice was a very satisfying drive.

The power of aluminum

The C320 is powered by an all-aluminum, 215-hp, 3.2-liter V-6 engine—the same V-6 that’s offered in larger M-B models. While it’s not any more than adequate in the big M-Class SUV, it feels strong and willing to haul the C320 quickly up to triple-digit speeds, whether or not you’re hauling a full load of people or cargo.

Though some drivers will surely miss a manual shift, Mercedes-Benz automatics have an uncanny way of intuiting what gear to be in based on your right foot and previous driving habits. The transmission offers a mode called Touch Shift where you can manually select the gears if the gearbox isn’t quite reading your right foot, but most people will be quite satisfied. It’s a shame that no manual gearbox is available, though. A stick is available on the C240 (2.6-liter V-6) sedan, but the wagon is only available with the 3.2-liter.

The transmission in our test car did, however, shift quite harshly from first to second when first starting out on cold mornings. After a few stop-and-gos, the shifts would be buttery smooth once again under gentle acceleration.

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