April 10, 2014
2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class & 2013 Mercedes-Benz C350 Coupe. Click image to enlarge
Review by Justin Pritchard
Vehicle Type: Luxury Sedan / Coupe
History/Description: For aspiring luxury sedan shoppers, owning a C-Class is a great way to achieve baller status and to roll like a boss in a world-class luxury sedan. The model currently on dealer lots debuted in model-year 2008 with new styling, power and technology. The entry-level Mercedes sedan in North America, standard C-Class models initially offered a range of V6 engines with no less than 201 hp, and up to 300+ hp, depending on the model selected.
Look for automatic transmissions and available All-Wheel Drive, as designated by the 4Matic badge. Rear wheel drive was standard and several high-performance, AMG model variants were available, though we’ll cover those in another story.
Later in this model’s life, a C-Class Coupe variant joined the lineup, as did a 1.8L turbocharged four-cylinder base engine. Feature content included premium audio, push-button start, climate-controlled leather seats, xenon lights, navigation, Bluetooth and plenty more.
Key competitors included the Lexus IS, BMW 3-Series and Audi A4.
Engines/Trim: Mercedes nomenclature across an entire model generation is harder to follow than a Game of Thrones episode, and this one’s no exception. Earlier standard C-Class models have engine options including a 2.5L, 201-horsepower V6, A 3.0L, 228 hp V6 or a 3.5L unit with 268 hp, designated C230 or C250, C300 and C350, respectively. For 2012 and on, the C230 (which was presumably renamed C250 to correspond to its 2.5L V6), got a 1.8L turbocharged four cylinder instead of the V6, which was dropped. The C300 model replaced its 3.0L V6 with a detuned version of the C350′s 3.5L V6, and the C350’s 3.5L V6 was jacked to 302 hp. My brain hurts, now.
What Owners Like: Owners report stable handling, an opulent cabin, a great up-level stereo system and even good fuel mileage – especially with the seven-speed automatic that was added mid-cycle. Easy-to-use technology and styling rounded out the package. Expect a world-class ride, solid and stable feel, and quality throughout. The larger V6 engines are reportedly pleasing to open up and plenty powerful.
What Owners Dislike: Complaints include noisy power seat adjustment, sometimes-noisy brakes, limited rear-seat headroom for taller passengers and the awkward placement of some of the controls around the steering wheel.
Most C-Class owners are great big fans of their cars, according to the owner reviews on autoTRADER.ca
The Test Drive: Start your test-drive noting the condition of the C-Class’s tires and brakes, as numerous owners have reported premature wear of these components. Buying a used C-Class from the oldest lady you can find is likely ideal for maximum confidence, and in general, you’re trying to make sure your used candidate hasn’t been owned by an aspiring parking-lot drifter extraordinaire.
Some owners have had the brake system serviced, or had new, revised pads installed to help stop unwanted squealing sounds from the brake pads. On your test-drive, note that a squeaking noise from the braking system could indicate worn out pads, or just be the result of a somewhat common brake-pad materials issue. Ask a mechanic for help if you’re unsure. He can ascertain the condition of the vehicle’s braking system in a matter of minutes.
2013 Mercedes-Benz C350 Coupe. Click image to enlarge
Sit with the vehicle in PARK and turn the steering wheel fully from one side to the other, quickly, a few times. Any knocking or clunking sound from beneath the vehicle in the process could be the result of a faulty or worn-out bushing installed where the steering rack mounts to the C-Class’s body. Not a major issue, but one that should be investigated by a mechanic ahead of your purchase if the warning signs are present.
Spend a few minutes playing with the COMAND system, which is the C-Class’s central command interface. Plug in a navigation destination, play with the vehicle settings, change some radio stations, attach your iPod and make a phone call or two – just to be safe. If the system is fussy, freezes up or lags harder than a Commodore 64 trying to play Doom 3D, updated system software from your nearest dealer may be the solution. Note that this system software is different than updated mapping software.