At first glance, you might be hard pressed to distinguish between the new 2012 Mercedes-Benz C350 and the model it replaces . But the updated C-Class boasts no fewer than 2,000 new components, making it the most comprehensively face-lifted vehicle in the German manufacturer's 125-year history. From a longer standard equipment list to five new driver assistance systems including blind spot detection and lane assist, the C-Class inherits a host of features from pricier models, which Mercedes officials call the "democratization of high-tech."
The C350 is powered by a 3.5 liter V-6 that produces 302 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque, and the engine achieves more power and better fuel economy compared to the outgoing V-6. Newly added standard features include Bluetooth audio streaming, a 5.8-inch color display and HD radio, while updated safety items include attention assist and adaptive brakes, with a hold function for stoplights.
Four variants will be available when the C-Class sedan reaches American shores in the fall of 2011: C250, C350, C300 4MATIC and C63 AMG. Though MSRP hasn't yet been announced for the C350, Mercedes-Benz expects it to ring in close to the current model's $39,990 price.
What’s to Like
You can compare spec sheets till the cows come home, but there are certain intangibles that come with buying a Mercedes-Benz. The German brand has always represented quality, and the midsize C-Class is no exception. The doors shut with solidity, the interior comes across as durable yet luxurious, and the overall package feels in line with what you'd expect from the triple pointed star. The new C-Class also offers a plethora of safety features and an expanded repertoire of standard equipment.
What’s Not to Like
Mercedes-Benz bills their C350 as a sport sedan, but despite imbuing the 2012 model with more power and a sophisticated 7G-tronic transmission, this four-door still drives with a bit less driver involvement than some would like. Weekend autocrossers and aspiring racers will find a sportier driving experience in the BMW 3 Series .
Thanks to a new 7G-tronic transmission and a boost of 34 horsepower and 15 lb-ft of torque, the C350 feels lively off the line, with strong acceleration as the 3.5 liter V-6 pulls through each of the seven gears. 0-60 mph is estimated at 5.9 seconds, with top speed electronically limited to 130 mph. The gearbox shifts smoothly, and the driver can click paddle shifters on either side of the steering wheel for expedite cog swaps. But don't expect rev-matched downshifts; the C-Class's transmission is biased more towards cruising than aggressive upshifts or downshifts.
The C350's front McPherson strut and rear multi-link suspension setup offers good body control and a relatively smooth ride, aided by amp...