By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.4
Mercedes-Benz has long been equated with luxurious, expensive cars. The fresh-for-2012 C-Class coupes and sedans, starting in the mid-$30,000 range, represents a more digestible entry point for those seeking the pampering and cachet of a Mercedes without going into (too much) debt to attain it. Now Mercedes has made its entry-level lineup even more tempting with a new base model, the C250, powered by a small, fuel-efficient 4-cylinder. At the other end of the C-Class range is the C63 AMG with a thundering 451-horsepower V-8. What all of these baby Benzes have in common, though, are the quality craftsmanship and driving capability for which Mercedes-Benz vehicles are known.
A 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class gives you the prestige, comfort and solid driving dynamics of an old-money German luxury car, but still makes room for new-money needs like paying for that first house or sending the kids to college. The C-Class also boasts excellent resale value when it's time to move on or up.
Remember: While these cars are more attainable in initial price, they are still luxury vehicles, which usually means higher maintenance and total ownership costs down the road. Even at the base C-Class price, you could buy a loaded-to-the-gills Chevrolet Cruze or Honda Civic with thousands to spare, or a very well-equipped Acura TSX or Buick Regal and still have money left over.
Mercedes-Benz realizes it's not alone in chasing upwardly mobile car buyers looking for a premium vehicle. The C-Class, and especially the new 4-cylinder C250 sedan and coupe models, represents Mercedes' effort to capture those younger dollars. For 2012, Mercedes has implemented over 2,000 new parts in the C-Class, giving it direct-injection engines, revised front and rear bodywork, and an updated interior.
Driving Impressions Even a base C250 feels like a Mercedes: solid and confident on the road, with creature comforts and technology galore. Except for the AMG performance model, C-Class sedans and...coupes tend to focus more on a comfortable ride than the sporting one of its longtime rival, the BMW 3 Series. Still, C-Class models, available in rear-drive or all-wheel-drive, feel nimble in corners and provide good acceleration via their smooth 7-speed automatic transmission. Even the C250's 1.8-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder puts out over 200 horsepower, but models with that engine need to be in Sport mode to indeed feel that way – otherwise the power is only acceptable for a car of this cost and caliber. Models with the new 3.5-liter V6 are plenty potent even in Comfort mode.
This standard feature can detect when a driver is drowsy and alerts him or her via visual and audible warnings. How does it do that? The car uses sensors that "observe driver behavior," based primarily on steering wheel movements.
Fit and Finish:
The cabin of even the least expensive Mercedes-Benz feels comfortable and cozy. Then there is the appreciable tactile feel of every component, from the leather-wrapped steering wheel to the metal buttons and gauges. It literally feels like a quality car.
The 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is elegant yet relatively understated inside. A 4.5-inch color display now sits before the driver, encircled within the speedometer, relaying trip, audio and navigation information. Buttons and dials for climate settings are a cinch to locate and use. Even when outfitted with the base M-B Tex vinyl upholstery, the C-Class seats are comfortable and supportive. Rear-seat space is a bit tight in the 5-passenger sedan, and even more cramped in the coupe, which seats four and has a lower roofline that can bump against heads. Like other luxury cars, audio, telephone and navigation are controlled via a console-mounted dial whose functions are viewed on a color-LCD screen in the center dash. The panorama roof that's optional on sedans and standard on coupes does an admirable job of shading, but still lets in quite a bit of light when the sun is directly overhead.Exterior
While most of the updates for the 2012 C-Class are under the hood, Mercedes has made tweaks to the outer design of its smallest car. The biggest news is the introduction of a curvaceous coupe, a first for the C-Class. Though it has two fewer doors than its sedan siblings, the C-Class coupe is nearly identical in length, width and wheelbase, but lower in height, giving it a more sporty appearance. C-Class Sedans retain their angular look and feature a lighter aluminum hood, revised front and rear bumpers, and redesigned headlights and taillights.
All C-Class models come with a 7-speed automatic transmission, Attention Assist drowsiness monitor, 11 airbags, power sunroof, rain-sensing wipers, garage door opener, auto-dimming mirrors, dual-zone climate control, 8-way power front seats, 5.8-inch color screen with center controller, and AM/FM/HD Radio with CD player and auxiliary/USB inputs. Coupes add a panorama roof, split-folding rear seats, and paddle shifters for manual gear selection.
Comfort, tech and safety options abound in the 2012 C-Class. Among them are an in-vehicle hotspot for Internet connectivity, blind-spot monitor, rear-view camera, push-button start/stop, and a navigation system loaded with useful information such as ATM locations and Zagat Survey restaurant ratings. The high-end audio option is a 12-speaker, 450-watt harman/kardon Logic7 surround-sound system.
After a several-year absence, Mercedes is again employing a 4-cylinder engine for its base C-Class in the U.S. market, a fuel-efficient 1.8-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that makes 201 horsepower. That's just 27 hp shy of the larger, 3.0-liter V6 that powers the C300, and enables the C250 to attain the same 0-60 mph time as the C300: 7.1 seconds. More powerful still is the C350, with a new 3.5-liter V6 that makes 302 horsepower. The voracious C63 AMG boasts a 6.3-liter V8 that makes 451 horsepower – and has fuel-economy numbers that add a one-time $1,700 gas-guzzler tax. All models now use a 7-speed automatic transmission with manual-shift mode (no manual transmission is available).
C250 sedan and coupe:
1.8-liter turbocharged inline-4
201 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
229 lb-ft of torque @ 2,200-4,300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/31 mpg
C300 4Matic sedan:
228 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
221 lb-ft of torque @ 2,700-5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25 mpg
C350 sedan and coupe:
302 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
273 lb-ft of torque @ 3,500-5,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/29 mpg
C63 AMG sedan and coupe:
451 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
443 lb-ft of torque @ 5,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 12/19 mpg
By T Benz on Monday, September 29, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good price, fun to drive, turns heads, comfortable"
Cons: "Seems like there are lots of C250s out there."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This car was bought to replace a Lexus IS 250. While looking at IS 250 F she decided to look at the MB dealership. We found this little gem and have been quite pleased since. We also have a 3 series BMW. This car is not as quick as the BMW but it has long legs and once you are moving it does not waste any time getting into triple digits on the speedo. It is bigger than the Lexus but not to big. We did not want a large car. I have been impressed with the Nav system and the link to our phones. I also have been very impressed with the mileage. I tend to drive hard and fast. This car has not disappointed the gear head in me. Of course I always want more power and I think in a few years we will move up to the larger C350 but until then, I will be enjoying this little gem."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By rob2325 on Friday, September 19, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 16,500overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Very resonsive driving. Power of a 6."
Cons: "MB tex a/k/a vinyl. Small if it's the only car."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"V6 so there's real power when needed. Benz quality fit and finish. Absolutely silent when stopped. Black with tan interior; several have commented how good it looks (it does)."
12 people out of 21 found this review helpful
By Cynthia on Thursday, August 28, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 37,500overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Comfortable for 2 medium size adults, reliable"
Cons: "Acceleration sluggish, trunk extremely small"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"For 1-2 people, this is a nice car; however the back seat room is very tight. One set of golf clubs will barely fit in the small truck. Acceleration leaves much to be desired. It hesitates on accelleration. It's a nice riding car that is well built."
6 people out of 12 found this review helpful
By Tommy on Tuesday, August 19, 2014
I don't own this caroverall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Very agile, great car to drive, extremely safe car"
Cons: "It's a Benz and you do have to pay for oil chances"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This car is a leased vehicle and has been driven as a 2nd car. Low miles considering we live in California and the vehicle is 2 months shy of being 3 years old. We are talking about not even putting 5,000 miles per year on this car. Feels like new and looks like it's new. We had it serviced at Mercedes Benz and it had it's first service and that's it! Didn't drive enough and was garaged as we didn't get a chance to service anything else on it. The vehicle is super clean and has almost every single option you can have or order on the vehicle."
10 people out of 16 found this review helpful
By Debbie GO on Monday, August 11, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 117,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"The looks are great, I get compliments all the time. I love the way it drives. Luxurious to say the least. Very comfortable and extremely reliable with great mileage to boot!"
4 people out of 5 found this review helpful
By CocoJoe on Sunday, August 10, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun to drive, great handling, power and comfort"
Cons: "Needs more room in the rear seating area."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"The C300 Luxury 4matic is overall an excellent automobile. The ride, handling and power are superior. It has a very quiet cabin and is well appointed. The MTex material used for the seating is outstanding. It feels and looks like leather without the leather drawbacks. It wears like iron with no maintenance. Only issue I have with the C300 is the back seat is very tight. Basically, it's good for two small children. Other than that, the car is exceptional."
3 people out of 6 found this review helpful