Full Edmunds Expert Review: 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class
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What's New for 2012
Many changes are in evidence with the 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. For the first time ever, a new coupe model debuts and is offered in the same configurations as the sedan. The C-Class is also more powerful and fuel-efficient this year, as the C350's V6 gets a big bump in horsepower, while a new turbocharged four-cylinder model debuts in a new trim, the C250. The C300's engine remains the same, but is now only available with all-wheel drive. The seven-speed automatic transmission has been altered for improved fuel efficiency, while the C63 gets the automated manual found in most other AMG models. Other changes include additional standard equipment, new front-end styling and a revised interior that does away with the old pop-up LCD infotainment screen.
While other luxury sedans chase down the BMW 3 Series with talk of increased sportiness and improved lap times around some racetrack in a German forest, the 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is very much its own car. Oh, it can still be plenty sporty, but not at the expense of ride comfort or the general dynamic qualities indicative of its brand.
The most obvious addition for 2012 is the new C-Class coupe, which gives Mercedes a more affordable entry in the two-door segment than the old CLK. Shared between both coupe and sedan is revised styling, with more curvaceous headlamps and better integrated LED running lights. The interior also has been reworked with higher-quality materials, a more visually interesting design and a fixed display screen in lieu of the old pop-up unit.
The engine lineup has been diversified for 2012. Is fuel economy a priority? The new C250 model has an efficient yet reasonably punchy turbocharged four-cylinder. Live in a frosty clime? The C300 4Matic comes standard with all-wheel drive. Should you want class-competitive power, the C350 now provides it with 302 horsepower (last year's C350 made 268 hp). And finally, there's the C63 AMG, which is essentially a German muscle car cranking out 451 tire-smoking horses.
In total, the 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class now offers more choice while adding to its already impressive array of talents. Of course, it still resides in a segment with quality picks such as the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Infiniti G and Volvo S60. We recommend them all, but there's only one car in the class that provides the honest, unapologetic and meticulously engineered goodness of a genuine Mercedes-Benz.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is available in sedan and coupe body styles, both of which are available in C250, C350 and C63 AMG trim levels. The sedan is furthermore available as a C300 4Matic, while the coupe gets a C350 4Matic and a C63 AMG Black Series.
The C250 and C300 trims all come standard with 17-inch wheels, automatic headlights, LED running lights, automatic wipers, a sunroof, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, eight-way power front seats (with adjustable lumbar), MB-Tex vinyl upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, auto-dimming interior and driver-side mirrors, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a sound system with a CD player, auxiliary audio jack, a USB audio jack and HD radio. The C300 4Matic adds all-wheel drive and a V6 engine.
In sedan form, the C250 and C300 are further differentiated into Luxury and Sport sub-trims. These differ in wheel design, suspension tuning, styling details, steering wheel design and interior trim type. When equipped with 4Matic all-wheel drive, the Luxury also includes a comfort-tuned suspension. The Premium 1 package adds on four-way adjustable lumbar support for the front seats, heated front seats, driver memory functions, a power-adjustable steering wheel, split-folding rear seats and a Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system with satellite radio and an iPod interface (optional separately as well).
In coupe form, the C250 gets a panoramic sunroof, split-folding rear seats, additional driver seat adjustments, driver memory functions and a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. The coupe's Premium 1 package adds the heated seats and the Harman Kardon system with satellite radio and an iPod interface.
The C350 sedan comes only in Sport guise, with a bigger V6 engine and the Premium 1 package standard; the C350 coupe adds a panoramic sunroof. The C63 AMG is equipped similarly in terms of comfort and convenience features, but gets 18-inch wheels, high-performance tires, an adaptive sport-tuned suspension, upgraded brakes, sport seats, more aggressive styling and different interior trim.
There are a multitude of options available for the 2012 C-Class. The COMAND package adds a larger central infotainment screen, a navigation system, real-time traffic, voice controls, digital music storage and a single-CD player. A six-CD changer can also be added. The Lighting package adds adaptive bi-xenon headlights with washers and automatic high beams. The Lane Tracking package adds a blind-spot warning system and a lane-departure warning system. Stand-alone options include a rearview camera, Mercedes-Benz mbrace emergency telematics, a panoramic sunroof (on the sedan), a power rear sunshade, keyless ignition/entry and the Parktronic advanced parking sensor system.
All but the C63 can be equipped with the Full Leather Seating package, which includes extended leather trim, additional passenger seat adjustments and passenger seat memory functions.
The C63 can be equipped with the AMG Development package, which adds 30 extra horsepower, a higher top speed, red brake calipers and a carbon-fiber trunk lid spoiler. A limited-slip differential is offered.