C-Class Ahead of the Class

February 9, 2009

The 2009 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is so good that there is hardly any reason to consider an E-class or S-Class. The 2009 C300 all-wheel drive sedan is an outstanding luxury value.

The 2009 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is so good that there is hardly any reason to consider an E-class or S-Class. The 2009 C300 all-wheel drive sedan is an outstanding luxury value. The sport model is most responsive, with lines from Maybach and AMG. It’s easy to spot the sport model, because there is no standup hood ornament. How aerodynamic of Mercedes.

The competition closest in size would be Infiniti’s G37, BMW’s 3-Series and Audi’s A4. At about 182 inches long the Mercedes C-Class is maneuverable yet very roomy on the inside. The engine is delightful, the transmission isn’t, and the all-wheel-drive seems more like rear-wheel drive.

Over the last few years, Mercedes has been playing catch-up with distinctive lighting. BMW with their angel eyes created such a romantic distinctive look that every automaker is on a mission for superior exterior and interior illumination. Front illumination for the C- Class is better. The high beams throw a great distance, and the low beams are well defined. The lines of the headlight lens flow well into the side of the car. This is a forward thinking, forward looking car with attractive lines that swing upward. The look is modern, yet classic and uplifting.

The hood cut and placement is smart and well thought out. The aluminum hood, front fenders, doors, and trunk lid fit well onto the rigid steel unit body. Even the plastic bumpers fit well. The side lower portion of the C 300 4matic Sport has a special aerodynamic trim from front to back. The sport model sits lower, and only has about 4 inches of ground clearance—most cars have about six. A lower car equals a safer lower center of gravity and more fun driving. Aerodynamics are well above average and quiet.

7 Forward, 2 Reverse

The 4-door Sports sedan is powered by a 3 liter, V6 engine with 4 camshafts. That’s 2 camshafts for each 3 cylinders. As with most cars today, there are 2 intake and 2 exhaust valves per cylinder, but, oddly, 2 sparkplugs per cylinder. One would imagine superior combustion. There’s plenty of torque at 2000 RPM to propel this luxury vehicle fast from stoplight to stoplight to highway. As you would expect, the all alloy engine is strong and smooth.

As you wouldn’t expect, the 7-speed transmission with 2 overdrive gears and 2 reverse gears left much to be desired. In parking situations, the accelerator pedal had way too much play with no result, encouraging impatience. The lack of patience brought on a clunk and a jerk in both forward and reverse—very disheartening. The steering is pleasantly light for parking; during your test drive, be sure to do a parallel park. How did your accelerator pedal feel? Was there any lurching, any clunking from the transmission? At speed and around town, the accelerator seems to respond differently, as did the transmission. The technique this transmission uses to go up and down in gear is usually quite comfortable. Entering a highway can be a thrill, as there is no law governing how fast you can get to 70 mph. With 4 wheels driving you will get all the power to the road.

All Wheels Driving

The all-wheel-drive system puts 60% of the power to the rear wheels, so the feeling is traditional Mercedes. In slick, wet, or slushy situations, you’ll feel the all-wheel drive helping pull you around turns. Mercedes’ all-wheel drive system is safe and helpful.

The independent multi-link suspension was soft and comfortable in most situations. At speed, the steering and suspension feel light and responsive. We could not find a situation where the steering or suspension was jarring. In all situations, the steering and suspension was comfortable. The brakes are quick and controllable.

Modern, Ergonomic, and Safe

The C-Class has most every modern safety feature you can imagine; stability control, traction control, antilock brakes, two-stage air bags, and a lot more. There is one safety feature Mercedes offers this year on the C-Class you probably have not heard of: the pelvic air bag. Upon side impact, the pelvic air bag works with the thorax airbag built into the front seat and the side curtain airbag that comes down from the ceiling.

The new C-Class interior design is better than any of its predecessors. All controls have better ergonomics than ever before. Even the window and mirror switches are angled perfectly for your left hand. The steering wheel has a simple set of buttons. These buttons are well done, controlling the center of the speedometer and other electronics. The speedometer has a screen that works as your trip computer and more.

You’ll find this seating front and rear to be generous and comfortable. The side bolsters on the front seat might be a little difficult to get out of if you’re overweight. The power seats have a manual lumbar adjustment and good support for people with long thighs. Seat cooling is now available. Material choices, textures, and colors are excellent. Organic curves and natural shapes abound.

The Big Knob

The center console is a piece of work. At the touch of a button, a big door moves up and out of the way at the top center of the instrument panel and up rises a flat screen with navigation and all the technology you can imagine. Bluetooth is there. Navigation is still an expensive option. The navigation system is substantially controlled by a big knob behind the gear shift lever adjacent to your cup holders. We worry about the reliability of this theatrical screen working well for two decades without trouble. Our pop-up screen was always fast, graceful, and well positioned.

Heating and cooling controls are easy to understand and control. Both passenger and driver could do their own adjustments easily. No drafts or hot spots.

The audio system sits above the climate controls. This car is so quiet that you must order the harmon/kardon LOGIC7 audio system. This system offers 450 Watts powering 12 speakers. Bring your iPod or other MP3 player plug-in, and crank it up. For some, this is reason enough to buy this car.

Standard for Luxury Sport Value

Even with our dislikes of this new C-Class, it sets a standard for value and luxury with a sporty appeal. The combination of ride quality, quietness, interior comfort and performance is outstanding for a vehicle in the $40,000 price range.

So go ahead and enjoy yourself, go on an amusement ride at your local Mercedes-Benz dealer. Keep in mind, ABT for the most satisfaction. Best wishes and happy motoring.

2009 Mercedes-Benz C300 4Matic

Specs & Dimensions

Length 182.3 in.

Width 69.7 in.

Wheelbase 108.7 in.

Weight (lb.) 3737 lbs.

Passengers Five

Drive 4WD

Engine 3.0-liter, V6

Hp@rpm 228 hp @ 6000 rpm

Ft-lb@rpm 221 lb ft @ 2700 rpm

Transmissions 7-spd auto (2R)

City/Hwy** 17/25

Gas Requirement Premium

Built Germany/ South Africa

Safety Score 54.6*

Real price $34,666.00

Website MBusa.com

*informedforlife.org

** fueleconomy.gov