NEW FOR 2009:

– Dynamic Handling Package standard on C350, optional on rear-wheel drive C300
– Sport Package now standard on all C300 models
– Rearview mirror compass
– Burl Walnut Wood Trim available on all models
– Harman/Kardon Logic7 Surround Sound System and COMAND APS available as stand-alone options

Having been completely redesigned for 2008, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class enters 2009 mechanically unchanged. The C350 now has a standard Dynamic Handling Package, which allows the driver to change the damping, steering, accelerator response and gear changes from a sporty setting to a comfort level. The C300 also receives a standard Sport Package of AMG front and rear apron and side skirts, three-spoke leather sport steering wheel, stainless steel pedals, upgraded calipers, sports suspension, 17-inch alloy wheels and sport grille with integrated star; only the C230 now comes standard with the more traditional grille from the last generation, with upright hood ornament, with the Sport Package as an option.

The C-Class is available in seven models: C230 and C230 4MATIC; C300 and C300 4MATIC; C350 and C350 4MATIC; and the C63 AMG. All are four-door sedans. The C230 models use a 2.5-litre V6 with six-speed manual or optional seven-speed automatic, with automatic only on the 4MATIC; the C300 uses a 3.0-litre V6 with six-speed manual or optional seven-speed automatic, and automatic only on the 4MATIC; the C350 uses a 3.5-litre V6 with seven-speed automatic; and the C63 AMG uses a 6.2-litre V8 with AMG-specific seven-speed automatic.

Features on the C230 models include 16-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, adaptive brake with hill-start assist, CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary input, Bluetooth hands-free connectivity, two-stage rain-sensing wipers, heated windshield washer system, eight-way power front seats, Artico leather upholstery, leather-wrapped multifunction wheel with tilt and telescopic adjustment, SmartKey keyless entry and first-aid kit.

The C300 models add 17-inch alloy wheels, sport suspension, six-CD/MP3 stereo, AMG styling package, bi-Xenon headlamps with washers and cornering lights, power-folding auto-dimming mirrors, heated front seats, split-folding rear seats, Burl Walnut high-gloss wood trim, three-spoke sport steering wheel, and power sunroof.

The C350 models add 18-inch alloy wheels, three-zone automatic climate control, electronic compass, Harman/Kardon Logic7 Surround Sound system, Sirius satellite radio, ten-way power seats with three-position memory, power tilt and telescopic wheel, and garage door opener. The rear-wheel drive C350 also adds Dynamic Handling Package and wheel-mounted shift paddles.

The C63 AMG adds 18-inch AMG alloy wheels, AMG sport suspension, AMG Nappa leather upholstery, and black bird’s-eye maple trim. It also has a dual-zone automatic climate control and the Harman/Kardon system is optional.

Depending on the model, there are available option packages that include such items as navigation system, rear window sunshade, and panoramic sunroof.

The C-Class is a handsome and nicely-sized vehicle, with good legroom in both rows of seats, a range of engines and features that can take it into serious luxury. The seven-speed automatic is creamy-smooth, but while enthusiasts will prefer a standard transmission, test-drive it first: the car is designed for an automatic, and some might find the tall console gets in the way while shifting.

The 4MATIC all-wheel drive system features a 45/55 torque split and works seamlessly in bad weather or on rough roads. The entry-level C230, a Canada-specific model, offers good performance at a realistic price and also includes the option of all-wheel drive. At the other end, the C63 AMG serves up 451 horsepower while still offering the practicality of four doors and five seats.

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