First Drive: 2012 Mercedes Benz C Class sedan reviews mercedes benz luxury cars first drives auto articles
2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Greg Wilson

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2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Tenerife, Canary Islands – Mercedes-Benz’ compact C-Class sedan will undergo what’s generally described as a “mid-cycle refresh” for the 2012 model year. Arriving in September 2011, the revamped C-Class sedan ticks off all the right boxes when it comes to improvements in safety, fuel economy, horsepower and ergonomics.

The new C gets a mild exterior styling update, a new instrument panel design, a more powerful and more fuel-efficient 3.5-litre V6 engine, a newly available turbocharged four-cylinder engine, an improved seven-speed automatic transmission, a next-generation telematics and navigation system, and more “driver assistance” safety features.

Traditionalists will be saddened to learn that the standard six-speed manual transmissions in the C250 and C300 will no longer be offered, but there seems no stopping the general trend to automatic transmissions with driver-selectable manual shift modes.

First Drive: 2012 Mercedes Benz C Class sedan reviews mercedes benz luxury cars first drives auto articles
First Drive: 2012 Mercedes Benz C Class sedan reviews mercedes benz luxury cars first drives auto articles
2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Click image to enlarge

Driving enthusiasts with deep pockets, however, will be glad to learn that the high-performance C63 AMG model will switch from the regular seven-speed automatic transmission to AMG’s Speedshift MCT seven-speed transmission with manual paddle shifters, Sport mode, and Race Start launch feature. Vroom, vroom!

2012 C-Class models sold here will continue to be offered in a four-door sedan bodystyle, and in the not-too-distant future, a new two-door C-Class coupe will also go on sale here. But alas, we won’t get the sporty but practical C-Class wagon that’s available in Europe. The last time Mercedes tried to sell C wagons here, there were few takers. No doubt, many wagon intenders migrated to the trendier GLK compact SUV or perhaps the B-Class hatchback.

2012 C-Class sedans will continue to be available in four trim levels – C250, C300, C350, and C63 AMG – but there have been some important upgrades, notably a more fuel-efficient and more powerful direct-injected 306-hp 3.5-litre V6 engine (up from 268 hp) in the C350 4Matic and C350 rear-wheel drive models. C300 4Matic models will retain the same 228-hp 3.0-litre V6 engine as before but C300 rear-wheel drive models have been discontinued altogether. 2012 C250 4Matic models will offer the same 201-hp 2.5-litre V6 as before, but the big news is that C250 RWD models will get a new turbocharged, direct-injection 201-hp 1.8-litre four-cylinder engine.

In Europe, a new automatic stop/start system will be standard in all cars, but unfortunately, it won’t make it to Canada until it’s been properly certified here, date unknown. Combined with the new 3.5-litre V6 engine and transmission improvements, this stop/start system is reputed to reduce overall fuel consumption by 31 per cent.




About Greg Wilson

Greg Wilson is a Vancouver-based automotive journalist and contributor to Autos.ca. He is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).