- V-6 engines are smooth and responsive
- Cabin is comfortable and quiet
- Sport model competes with the BMW 3-Series
- Choice of two distinct looks
- Vague steering response
- Use of drab plastic in base instrument panel
- Needs more backseat legroom
For the price, the 2009 Mercedes-Benz C-Class offers sportiness, luxury, safety, and creature comforts in an attractive package.
The 2009 Mercedes-Benz C-Class features two distinct styles; the Luxury and Sport models cater to different types of C-Class buyers. The two models can be distinguished from afar, especially from the front, due to their very different front-end treatments. Overall, the C-Class is the smallest and most inexpensive model in the Mercedes lineup.
The Sport has no hood ornament but rather a large emblem in the middle of the grille that's body-colored instead of chrome. The Luxury follows Mercedes tradition with the familiar chrome grille and three-pointed-star hood ornament.
The 2009 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sport models also differ from the Luxury by way of lowered, sport-tuned suspension, larger wheels, a sport braking system, and dual exhaust. Inside, the Sport's trim is composed of either matte-aluminum or maple wood, while the Luxury features chrome and burl walnut wood. However, the plastics used in the base Sport look somewhat drab.
Both the C300 Luxury and Sport models come with a 228-horsepower, 3.0-liter V-6 engine, while the C350 Sport gets a 268-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6. The C300 models are available with 4Matic all-wheel drive, a full-time system that reverts to sending 55 percent of power to the rear wheels when more isn't needed at a particular wheel. The C300 has a standard six-speed manual or optional seven-speed automatic, but the C350 can only be had with the automatic.
The exclusive C63 AMG (covered separately by TheCarConnection.com) is the big dog of the 2009 Mercedes C-Class. Its 6.3-liter, V-8 engine produces 451 horsepower, which complements all the additional performance equipment the C63 features, including a sport suspension, Z-rated performance tires, bigger brakes, a sport exhaust, special AMG heated sport seats, a race timer, and plenty of additional appearance upgrades.
The two V-6 engines aren't that different from each other in normal driving, but the additional performance of the 2009 Mercedes-Benz C350 is only noticeable during full-throttle acceleration or on the most demanding mountain roads. The seven-speed automatic shifts smoothly, whether using the manual mode or not, and it downshifts quickly and decisively when needed. The C-Class comes equipped with Mercedes' Agility Control suspension, which helps C-Class models stay flat in corners and maintain a well-controlled ride by mechanically adjusting damper settings to reduce body motion during spirited driving and sudden maneuvers, without a sacrifice in ride comfort. The C-Class has crisp steering response compared to former C-Class sedans, thanks in part to a quicker steering ratio, but the steering isn't quite as direct in feel. Of the two models, the Sport allows better handling without any significant decrease in ride quality.
Both the Sport and the Luxury C-Class models have quiet cabins with good isolation from the road, although you hear the engine when accelerating. The backseat is the C-Class' most significant weakness, though. The average adult will find headroom adequate, but legroom is very tight, and unless the front seats are pulled far forward, most will not find the space comfortable.
All 2009 Mercedes-Benz C-Class models come equipped with pelvic airbags that work in conjunction with the dual front-side airbags and side-curtain bags. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates the C-Class "good" in frontal impact but doesn't test it in other areas. Crash-test performance in the federal government's program is somewhat disappointing for a vehicle from a brand that's known for such high safety standards, with four-star results in frontal protection but five-star ratings in side impact.
Standard on all models is Bluetooth, dual-zone climate control, and a twin-panel Panorama sunroof. An available entertainment system brings 4GB of music storage and accepts memory cards; there's also a DVD entertainment system and a voice-activated navigation system with a convenient pop-up display screen. Most options for the 2009 C-Class are grouped into major packages and include heated seats, a rear sunshade, bi-xenon headlamps, and a lighting system with corner-illuminating fog lamps.
2009 Mercedes-Benz C Class
2009 Mercedes-Benz C-Class shoppers have a choice between Sport and Luxury; both are great, but the interior needs more attention.
Handsome on the outside, the 2009 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is less universally pleasing inside.
Overall, reviews read by TheCarConnection.com agree that the 2009 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is a resounding stylistic success. Perhaps the biggest affirmation of this sentiment comes from Car and Driver, where reviewers feel that the 2009 Mercedes-Benz C-Class maintains "a look that says Mercedes in any language, conferring undeniable status on its owner." Cars.com finds the Mercedes-Benz C-Class has a "cleaner, more jagged appearance," one that "looks much like the redesigned S-Class." Kelley Blue Book describes the exterior of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class as "eye-catching" and "cutting edge," while noting "the longer wheelbase and body give the car a substantial road presence."
The 2009 Mercedes-Benz C-Class features two distinct styles; the Luxury and Sport models cater to different types of C-Class buyers. The two models can be distinguished from afar, especially head-on, due to their very different front-end treatments. ForbesAutos reports that the distinctions between the two include "slightly racier exterior styling" on the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sport, "as well as a big, three-pointed Mercedes-Benz star in the grille, in place of the traditional, stand-up hood ornament." Aside from the wholly different front ends, MotherProof points out "more subtle differences in styling include unique side molding and wheels for each model."
Inside, the Sport's trim is composed of either matte-aluminum or maple wood, while the Luxury features chrome and burl walnut wood. However, the plastics used in the base Sport look somewhat drab. Edmunds finds that the interior is "well-crafted," but it can "come off as a little austere and a bit bland." Kelley Blue Book lodges minor criticisms, remarking that "a few oddities stand out, namely the awkward placement of the manual lumbar control," along with somewhat confusing, "less-than-intuitive steering-wheel controls." On the positive side, reviewers at Cars.com love the "simple, purposeful and uncluttered" cabin design, which is complemented by either wood or aluminum accents, "both of which enhance the interior."
2009 Mercedes-Benz C Class
The 2009 Mercedes-Benz C-Class offers typically tight European handling, but unless you choose the over-the-top AMG version, its power isn't the most inspiring.
Mercedes-Benz's compact sedan almost always takes second place to BMW with regard to performance, but in Sport or AMG trim, the 2009 C-Class is surprisingly competitive.
Road holding is one of the 2009 Mercedes-Benz C-Class strengths. Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com unanimously praise the handling of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Edmunds offers high praise: "this C-Class comes closer to the vaunted BMW 3 Series than ever before," thanks to its "substantially revised chassis." While many vehicles sacrifice ride quality for improved handling, Edmunds feels the C-Class is an exception; they find that "despite its sportier character, the C-Class is never harsh on the road." Cars.com agrees, claiming the "new C-Class offers a nice blend of ride comfort and handling performance," though "brake pedal feel is average." ConsumerGuide mentions the "surefooted aplomb and little body lean" the C-Class exhibits when cornering.
As with the selection between the Luxury and Sport models, there's a choice to be made when it comes to engines. According to Cars.com, "a 3.0-liter V-6 engine powers the C300, while the C350 gets a 3.5-liter V-6." Regarding the power of the two motors, Edmunds states that the 3.0-liter in the C300 "produces 228 hp and 221 pound-feet of torque," while the larger 3.5-liter version in the C350 "makes 268 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque." For those who have driven older C-Class models, Edmunds notes that Mercedes-Benz's 2009 editions "are no quicker than the cars they replace." ConsumerGuide comments that the "C300 models provide good acceleration" in all driving conditions, but they find the Mercedes-Benz's 2009 estimate of 7.1 seconds from 0-60 to be "somewhat optimistic." When it comes to the more powerful C350, ConsumerGuide reviewers feel it "is stronger at all speeds, particularly in highway passing," and the Mercedes-estimated 6.1 seconds from 0-60 seems "credible." Car and Driver adds that the C350 is "powerful enough to make short work of tight passing situations as well as sorting out everyday traffic.”
The 2009 Mercedes-Benz C-Class also offers different transmissions depending on which engine is under the hood. Reviews of the seven-speed automatic are mixed, with Kelley Blue Book saying that the "slow-to-come shift points make it more enjoyable to just leave the lever in the 'D' position." Taking a different view is Car and Driver, which finds the automatic transmission to be "milkshake smooth in full auto mode, with ratios well matched to the engine's broad torque band." The six-speed manual receives somewhat nicer treatment, with Kelley Blue Book musing "the six-speed manual transmission brings out the C300's playful side." Car and Driver reports that C350, available only in Sport trim, is exclusively "mated to Benz's seven-speed automatic transmission," while the C300 has a "six-speed manual" as standard equipment and the seven-speed automatic available as an option. On either version of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Kelley Blue Book notes that the seven-speed automatic "offers a manual shift feature." ConsumerGuide claims that the "automatic transmission operates smoothly but can be slow to downshift for more power" and "slow to respond to manual shift inputs." Also worth a mention is the optional all-wheel-drive feature on the C300.
The EPA estimates that Mercedes-Benz's 2009 C-Class in C300 trim will return 18 mpg city, 26 highway with the manual transmission and 18/25 mpg as an automatic. The automatic C350 features only a minor drop in fuel economy, to an EPA-estimated 17/25 mpg. Despite a usually thrifty V-6 arrangement, the heavy curb weight of the 2009 Mercedes-Benz C-Class limits fuel economy, and the premium fuel requirement can eat into fuel budgets quickly.
2009 Mercedes-Benz C Class
Comfort & Quality
Comfort and space is clearly sacrificed for compactness in the 2009 Mercedes-Benz C-Class, but refinement is not.
The 2009 Mercedes-Benz C-Class offers exceptional build quality and a quiet ride, but comfort on longer drives or in the backseat remains an issue.
As the entry-level vehicle to the Mercedes-Benz fold, the C-Class doesn't fail to deliver the typical Mercedes-Benz build quality. Reviewers tend to agree, with ConsumerGuide raving about the "nicely padded surfaces and upscale trim" and Kelley Blue Book mentioning the "tasteful wood inlays" that "surround the cabin." Edmunds judges the interior of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class to be "beautifully crafted," and overall they feel that the car sports "excellent build quality."
The rear seats of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class are a different story, however, as reviews read by TheCarConnection.com find them to be both uncomfortable and cramped. Edmunds feels that, although the interior is larger, it is simply "not very spacious" in back, and Cars.com adds that the "three-place rear seat is on the smallish side, with limited legroom and headroom." The front seats of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class draw praise from reviewers, with ConsumerGuide deeming them "supportive and comfortable" and claiming that "even taller folks should find adequate headroom and legroom." Cars.com agrees, adding "it's easy to find a comfortable driving position," thanks to a front cabin that "doesn't have the cramped feel of the 3 Series sedan."
Storage space, especially in the trunk, is adequate. Edmunds states that "trunk capacity is 12.4 cubic feet, which can be expanded with the optional split-folding rear seats." ConsumerGuide feels that "the trunk is narrow," but the overall "area is quite deep and nicely trimmed." However, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class loses points for cabin functionality; ConsumerGuide reviewers notice "interior storage is adequate at best with a somewhat skimpy center console, two open console cupholders, and a decent-sized glovebox."
Where the Mercedes-Benz C-Class really exceeds expectations is with its interior quietness. Reviewers praise the "level of serene isolation" that ConsumerGuide feels "few in the class can provide." Edmunds also uses the term, asserting that the C300 Luxury offers a "more serene driving environment" than the Sport version, which is to be expected, given the "quieter exhaust system."
2009 Mercedes-Benz C Class
Mercedes-Benz's reputation for safety continues with the 2009 C-Class' safety features and is supported by crash-test ratings.
If not for the four-star rating in front impact tests, the 2009 Mercedes-Benz C-Class would be right at the top of the safety list. New for 2009 are the standard pelvic airbags. Bringing the total amount of supplemental restraints to eight, the new airbags work in conjunction with the curtain and side airbags.
After subjecting the 2009 Mercedes-Benz C-Class to its battery of tests, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awards it four out of five stars for front impact protection and five stars for side impact protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) corroborates those results; the independent agency awards the 2009 Mercedes-Benz C-Class its highest rating, "good," for frontal offset collisions. The frontal offset test is the only one conducted by the IIHS.
Good crash-test results aren't the only safety aspect consumers use to judge a car's safety. Mercedes knows this, so a wealth of safety features is built into the 2009 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Edmunds says that the 2009 Mercedes-Benz C-Class comes with "a full load of standard safety equipment, including front side airbags, full-length curtain airbags," and a convenient "brake drying" system that activates automatically when the windshield wipers start up. MotherProof reviewers devote significant space to listing the "safety highlights of the C-Class," which "include a standard electronic stability system, active head restraints," and "adaptive braking that can tell the difference between a regular stop and a panic stop."
The 2009 Mercedes-Benz C-Class also gives ample visibility to drivers and passengers alike. ConsumerGuide attests "there's little problem seeing around the tall but narrow front headrests and slender rear roof pillars,” and Car and Driver raves about the "outstanding forward sightlines.”
2009 Mercedes-Benz C Class
The 2009 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is near the top of its class in features.
The 2009 Mercedes-Benz C-Class sports a long list of luxury features, with the difficult COMAND screen-based interface among them.
The 2009 Mercedes-Benz C-Class comes standard with a long tally of features, of which Kelley Blue Book mentions both "a motorized LCD display" and "dual-zone automatic climate control.” ConsumerGuide lists other impressive standard features to be a "power sunroof, AM/FM/weatherband/CD/MP3 player, digital-media player connection, satellite radio," and a Bluetooth "wireless cell phone link."
ConsumerGuide has many compliments for the C-Class, such as "clearly marked buttons" for the climate controls, but not for COMAND; they feel that "audio controls are more complicated" and "the navigation system itself is difficult to use, with many controls buried in a series of menus and submenus." Edmunds mentions a new version of "Mercedes' COMAND system" that "combines physical dash buttons with a mouselike controller" and allows the driver to control many of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class' functions.
Among the various options, Kelley Blue Book notes that "optional on the C300 are auto-dimming power folding side mirrors, heated front seats, SIRIUS Satellite Radio," and "rain-sensing wipers." Cars.com reviewers appreciate the available options that Mercedes-Benz's 2009 version offers, especially the "impressive Harman Kardon six-CD/DVD surround sound system," but are slightly put off by having to pay "extra for folding seats," an optional feature on the Mercedes-Benz C-Class that they say is "standard in the least-expensive of cars."
Edmunds feels the coolest option is the "Multimedia Package," which transforms the 2009 Mercedes-Benz C-Class "into a mobile sound studio—and movie theater. A built-in hard-drive not only powers the navigation system, it can also store up to 4GB." Even more unusual is the fact that on Mercedes-Benz's 2009 C-Class, "with the car in park, the car can also play DVDs through the pop-up LCD screen and superb Logic 7 surround-sound system," according to Edmunds.