The gloves are off. Mercedes-Benz is serious about producing an entry-luxury automobile that measures up with rivals from Europe, Japan and North America. The question is, will the company’s new C-Class take the lead, or will it become mired in mid-pack traffic?
The gloves are off.
Mercedes-Benz is serious about producing an entry-luxury automobile that measures up with rivals from Europe, Japan and North America. The question is, will the company’s new C-Class take the lead, or will it become mired in mid-pack traffic?
The 2008 edition of the C-Class, due to arrive later this summer, represents a bold attempt by M-B to outdistance the competition, win over the skeptics and forge new converts.
As the best-selling passenger car in Mercedes’ lineup, the C-Class represents both profits and potential for generating conquest sales from other automakers.
True to form, the ’08 C-Class continues to copy many of the styling cues displayed by its more prestigious S-Class sibling, something it has done since it was first introduced in 1993. In fact, the resemblance has been so strong that some businessoriented media outlets have suggested that down-on-theirheels management types consider trading in their expensive S-Class limos for similar looking, but far more affordable C-Class variants.
So, a rich-looking sedan without the heart-palpitating sticker price is a major C-class selling point and Mercedes-Benz backs up the car’s newly formed sheetmetal with plenty of upgraded features and content for 2008.
But first, a minor size adjustment was deemed in order. The C-Class has been stretched by 3.7 inches and widened by 1.7 inches. The roomier cabin affords all passengers a bit more wiggle room, which was an oft-heard complaint about the previous car. As well, the front door openings have been made wider, the design of the rear seat cushions revised to make entry/exit easier and the already spacious trunk has been made slightly larger.
Interior changes include a new instrument cluster plus a five-inch screen perched atop the center control panel. A variety of vehicle functions can be displayed by way of a floor-console-mounted dial that operates in much the same way as a computer mouse.
For now, three versions of the C-Class will be offered: The C300 Luxury; C300 Sport; and C350 Sport. Both C300 models come with a 228-horsepower 3.0-liter V6, while the C350 gets a 268-horsepower 3.5-liter V6. Both powerplants are essentially carry-overs from the 2007 CClass and are geared to deliver the bulk of their torque at low revs.
The C300 Sport is equipped with a six-speed manual transmission, while a seven-speed automatic is standard on the C300 Luxury and C350 Sport.
Buyers looking for maximum all-weather stability can order either C300 model with M-B’s 4MATIC four-wheel drive setup. This year, the system, which adds a mere 145 pounds to the car’s 3,420-pound curb weight, has been simplified with fewer moving parts and without the previous requirement of a wider transmission tunnel or special suspension pieces to allow clearance.
For an estimated starting price of around $35,000, the base C300 Luxury will arrive with dual-zone climate control, eight-way power front seats, eight-speaker 100-watt audio system and a power sunroof. Opting for either Sport version adds a tighter suspension, trunk-lid spoiler, special wheels and front, side and rear body cladding from AMG, Mercedes-Benz’s in-house tuner division. Also added is a unique grille with a giant M-B star logo smack in the middle. The standard arrangement places the badge on top of the hood.
As well as the basics, the topend C350 includes rain-sensing wipers, heated front seats, autodimming mirrors, garage door opener and satellite radio.
Of course, a wealth of options, such as leather seats, panorama sunroof, premium audio package and 18-inch rims for Sport models will turn any C-Class into one first-class ride.
If needle-sharp styling, comfortable surroundings, top-notch engineering and an enviable pedigree are important to luxury-car buyers, the new C-Class earns top marks.