First Test: Mercedes-Benz C Sedan and C Coupe
C Classier, Now with Two Doors or Four
No, your eyes aren't deceiving you. The revamped Mercedes-Benz C-Class bears a striking resemblance to last year's car. But of course looks can be deceiving, and despite what its familiar exterior may suggest, the C has been significantly revised for More specifically, some plus components have been replaced or changed. But the most significant update by far was the addition of a sleek new two-door model to the C-Class range, and thankfully it isn't yet another confused four-door "coupe" wannabe (we're looking at you, CLS).
For the model year, the C-Class gets two new engines (not counting AMG models): a horsepower liter turbocharged four-cylinder found in the base C, and a heavily revised, direct-injected horse liter V-6 used by the C The brand's horse, lb-ft liter V-6 still lives on, but only in the C 4MATIC. (That model's six-speed manual gearbox has been axed for ).
While not significantly updated, the C's sheetmetal remains attractive, with chiseled, recessed character lines and angular edges. The aluminum hood, doors, and front fenders have been slightly tweaked to accentuate width and athleticism. The restyled, sweeping C-shaped head- and taillamps with LED elements distinguish the model from everything else in the Benz range. Sport models equipped with the optional Dynamic Handling packaged sit inch lower and receive stiffened dampers and higher spring rates for improved lateral performance. Distinct twin-spoke inch alloys and AMG-styled cladding also separate the model from its Luxury edition sibling.
Designers also did their due diligence inside, crafting a new dash to house either a standard-issue inch infotainment screen or an optional 7-inch unit with the COMAND operating system. Updated trapezoidal-shaped central console vents add to the already modern space, particularly when swathed in supple MB Tex black materials like our test car. Revised grains and colored gauges add freshness. Behind the Sport model's handsome three-spoke wheel is a new glass instrument cover.
With valve-timing, direct-injection, and Lanchester balanced shafts (ones that run faster than the engine to counteract movement), the liter turbocharged four-cylinder fitted provides a peppy, relatively fuel-efficient (21/31 city/highway mpg) means of propulsion. Sixty mph from nil comes up in seconds, while a quarter mile gets slowly defeated in seconds at mph.
As with most small displacement mills, usable thrust is eked out near its rpm limit, so stomping on the rightmost pedal to make a pass is always a must-do in the All of its lb-ft can be summoned from a lowly rpm, but when you do mash it, you'll have to wait a few ticks for any response from the turbo. An updated seven-speed automatic gearbox mates to the powerplant and provides quiet, jar-free shifts, thanks to a new torque converter and slipperier internal fluids.
In the esses, the 's smooth and communicative hydraulically boosted rack-and-pinion steering feels weighty throughout rotation, which, together with an engine screaming for mercy and the optional Sport suspension shouldering the pound mass, makes cornering a surprisingly entertaining -- albeit not super-sticky -- proposition. Around our figure-eight course, it manages a second run at an average g.
While the C sedan is competent enough, if you're looking for a slicker, more potent, better-handling C-Class, look no further than the C Coupe, although you'll sacrifice a few mpgs (EPA rated at 19/28 city/highway) and have to pony up nearly $ more to get one.
The C Coupe is nearly identical dimensionally to its four-door brethren, but sits inches squatter thanks to a vastly raked A-pillar. Interior shoulder- and headroom suffer slightly (front kneeroom actually grows inch to 42 inches), but not many staffers complained, especially with the standard-issue panorama roof expanding the perceived space. Testing mastermind Kim Reynolds did smack his head upon entry, however. Engineers eased rear seat ingress and egress with an easy one-push front seat fold/return. To the delight of rear passenger knees, the front seatbacks are generously scalloped.
Much as it is with the sedan, the most interesting aspect of the coupe is what motivates it. The new liter V-6 uses a bevy of innovative tech, and offers additional power and efficiency compared to its predecessor. It is direct-injected, uses a multi-spark ignition system, and has better balanced degree cylinder angles (with compression ratio) in place of the outgoing V-6's degree configuration (with compression). Its revised cam chain drive allows for smoother operation and lower noise levels. The redone cooling system dissipates heat soak during hard driving via a two-stage flow, and warms up the powertrain more efficiently in the coldest of climates. Benz's familiar seven-speed automatic gearbox with dinky plastic Touch Shift paddles delegates power to the rear inch rubber.
Spec sheet data aside, the real world impressions are just what you'd expect from the While pounds portlier than the C sedan we tested, the coupe is faster, whether aimed down a straight highway or twisty back road. Sixty mph from a stop comes in seconds; a quarter-mile creeps by in seconds at mph. The Coupe feels easier to toss compared to the sedan, and plows some when charging quick into corners, making it a decent player on our figure-eight ( seconds at an average g). Its lb-ft of torque arrive linearly at rpm rather than in a sudden turbocharged surge, allowing for short bursts of speed to be easily beckoned. The suspension isn't jarring during highway cruising and city street perusing, but it isn't S cushy, either.
While Mercedes-Benz has beaten arch nemesis BMW to the next-gen-turbo-four-in-a-small-sedan punch, you have to remember that Audi and its A4 have been there, done that. Until we get the trio together next spring, we'll reserve judgment as to who is the legitimate king of the ever-popular small luxury sedan segment. Nonetheless, the C-Class, be it two- or four-door, four- or six-cylinder, remains one cool, classy contender.
| ||Mercedes-Benz C||Mercedes-Benz C|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$44,||$50,|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front engine, RWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan||Front engine, RWD, 4-pass, 2-door coupe|
|ENGINE||L/hp/lb-ft turbo DOHC valve I-4||L/hp/lb-ft DOHC valve V-6|
|TRANSMISSION||7-speed automatic||7-speed automatic|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||lb (52/48%)||lb (53/47%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||x x in||x x in|
|QUARTER MILE||sec @ mph||sec @ mph|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||g (avg)||g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||sec @ g (avg)||sec @ g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON||21/31 mpg||19/28 mpg|
|ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY||/ kW-hrs/ miles||/ kW-hrs/ miles|
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EXECUTIVE EDITOR BOB GRITZINGER: For the C-class buyer seeking a little addition through subtraction, there's a lot to like about the Mercedes-Benz C 4Matic coupe, from its sharp lines to its tidy interior. Like most Benzes these days, the car has two different characters: There's the lope along with traffic and around town economy mode, and the run-what-ya-brung sport mode that amps up everything about the car. With a push of a button, the drive becomes much more engaging, almost demanding that the driver sit up, take notice, grab the wheel with both hands and click up and down through the gears via the paddle shifters to get the most out of every moment. And then, just as suddenly, everything settles back down into a docile “E” mode, where a prod of the accelerator doesn't provoke the same response and the tendency is to take it easy in the slower lane.
Either way you take your C-class coupe, it's a pleasant driver -- though I suspect some might find the suspension a shade high strung. Steering is moderately weighted, brakes are strong and body motion is well controlled. There's nothing awe-inspiring here, but nothing that's going to surprise a driver in a bad way either.
The car's supple, supportive seats and comfortable driving position give me the impression one could drive for miles without fatigue. And look quite dashing while doing it.
EDITOR WES RAYNAL: At my local gas station: “That's a good-looking car. Is that the new Accord?”
I heard that twice and it would really bum me out if I shelled out $51, for my new Benz. That said, the car is a pleasant, small- to medium-size coupe. I would happily have one on a daily basis. It's comfortable, rides well and feels well built -- solid and tight. The car looks good as a coupe (the AMG wheels help a lot), and the interior is vastly improved in terms of quality and materials -- getting back to the old Mercedes levels, or darn close to it, compared to the outgoing C-class.
This particular coupe feels like a nicely balanced car that you can hustle with some agility, much more like a BMW 3-series than any small Benz I can remember (which, if memory serves, used to feel quite a bit more mushy than this) and it still has the Benz smoothness. I think this latest-generation C is in the running for most improved compared to the car it replaces.
NEWS EDITOR GREG MIGLIORE: The C-class coupe is a well-executed, fun-to-drive machine with a heady price tag. There's a lot of substance offered, however, to merit this lofty sticker. A seven-speed automatic and all-wheel drive in a coupe? Those really add an interesting dynamic to the character of this Mercedes two-door. The curvy styling is spot-on to my eyes. The body flares in the right places, has elegant lines in front, and an upright grille that adds gravitas. Flanked by the striking headlamps with the optioned-up lighting package, the C has presence and panache.
My evening experience included a relaxed, quiet commute home from the office, followed by dinner out with the family. My father sat shotgun, (the car was a little low for his taste) and my fiancé climbed into the back. This is a personal luxury coupe, but my passengers had enough room and were reasonably comfortable. The next morning I braved a cool, wet drive in, and the AWD added peace of mind when I navigated unexpected standing water at 60 mph on the expressway. The low-to-the-ground presence was helpful, too, as I had solid view of the road ahead of me, which was strewn with accidents and pockmarked by dramatic splashes from merging traffic. With the light dim and spray omnipresent, visibility was at a minimum, but the Benz brought me into work in safety and comfort.
The engine is strong. As Raynal notes, this throttle seems better calibrated than the lagging, mushy execution of old. The chassis is tight, sporty, and might even be too taut for some customers. The cabin is quiet, with a gorgeous extended sunroof which drew praise from passengers. The dials in front are easy to read and sharp, sticking out from the staid cabin materials. Most will like this setting.
The luxury coupe segment is crowded and competitive. Cadillac's CTS coupe, BMW's 3-series, Audi's A5 and others bring excellent entries. The C-class will appeal to the Mercedes faithful, and by marketing some of the features and technology, could land punches against its rivals.
Mercedes-Benz C 4Matic coupe
Base Price: $45,
As-Tested Price: $51,
Drivetrain: liter V6; AWD, seven-speed automatic
Output: hp @ 6, rpm, lb-ft @ 3,, rpm
Curb Weight: 3, lb
Fuel Economy (EPA City/Highway/Combined): 20/29/23 mpg
AW Observed Fuel Economy: mpg
Options: Multimedia package including rearview camera, voice control, COMAND system with hard-drive navigation, 3D map views, 10 GB music register, seven-inch high resolution LCD screen, in-dash six-DVD/CD player, SD memory card slot, Gracenote Media database including album cover art, SIRIUS XM traffic and weather ($2,); full leather seating package including power and memory front passenger seat ($1,); lighting package including headlamp cleaning system, adaptive highbeam assist, bixenon headlamps with active curve illumination ($1,)
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Mercedes-Benz C 4Matic
One can hardly mutter the words "German," "luxury" and "all-wheel drive" without invoking visions of Audi. The company has worked hard to make its Quattroall-wheel-drive system synonymous with each of the phrases above, and its tireless marketing, successful motorsportsprograms and loyal fans have inextricably married the Four Rings to the power of all-wheel drive luxury. But Audiisn't the only German manufacturer putting power to all four wheels. Buyers have been happily bringing BMWxDrive models home for years, and Mercedes-Benzhas a long and storied history of grips-at-all-four-corners innovation as well.
From vehicles like the globe-conquering Unimogto the somewhat more civil G-Class, the Silver Arrow has more than a little experience when it comes to overcoming uncertain terrain. Beyond four-wheel drive systems, Mercedeshas sold over one million 4Matic all-wheel drive vehicles in the U.S. since the system's debut here in These days, Benz offers 4Maticon 10 of its vehicle lines in a total of 21 variations, and for , luxury coupe buyers can rejoice in the inclusion of both the E 4Matic Coupeand the C 4Matic Coupeto the horde. With rivals like the Audi A5and BMW i xDrive Coupealready default choices for two-door shoppers who prefer the foul weather capability of all-wheel drive, will the newest additions to the Mercedes-Benzstable be able to keep the pace? We took to the C 4Matic Coupe to find out.
This time of year, Jackson Hole, Wyoming and its neighboring territories have precisely three weather conditions: "Snow," "About To Snow" and "Holy Hell, We're Going To Have To Resort To Cannibalism." We met the C 4Matic Coupe deep in the throws of the latter while in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and if anything helped take our minds off the notion of being brunch for our fellow journalists, it was the striking image of the black-on-black two door lurking amidst the driving flakes. Up front, this Benz wears the same proud prow as its four-door relative, complete with a near vertical two-bar grille and a massive three-pointed star. We couldn't help but take comfort in the knowledge that, should we escape the fangs of our companions, it might be possible to use the dish-plate-sized emblem to signal low-flying aircraft.
Angled projector headlamps with LEDdaytime running lights give the fascia an athletic appearance, and the lower valance's LED turn indicators and mesh insets help lend the impression this is a vehicle capable of dashing through the snow with glee. Designers have given the C 4Matic Coupe a decidedly forward-leaning profile with pronounced front fender arches reaching nearly to the hood line, a raked character crease that stretches from the taillamps to the lower front fender and a long, angled nose. Whereas the big E-ClassCoupe projects a more buttoned-down presence, the smaller C-ClassCoupe is appropriately toned and muscular.
Around back, the coupe features a rounded rear section with contoured LED taillamps, a subtle trunk lip spoiler and a more demure emblem. Dual ovoid exhaust outlets add a little flash to the lower valance as well. In the flesh, we think the rear of the C-Class coupe doesn't quite gel with the crisp, angular lines of the vehicle's nose. The aft quarter simply leaves us a bit cold.
Not that we needed any help shedding body temperature. With the thermometer hovering around 16 degrees and a scornful wind threatening to rip our eyelids from our faces and beat us to death with them, there was no sanctuary more welcome than that of the C 4Matic Coupe's interior. The cabin features a set of well-bolstered leather bucket seats as gorgeous as they are comfortable. Handsome contrasting double stitching, attractive pleating and a chrome forward-release handle all make the seats easy on the eye. Throw in the fact that the three-stage heated buckets are warm enough to boil water and we were suitably smitten.
The C-Class Coupe treats its driver to a sporty three-spoke, leather-wrapped steering wheel with perforated hide and ergonomic contours at nine and three. The multifunction piece is a perfect fit for the sporty two-door, as are the attractive three-bezel gauges. With an informative LCD set in the center of the speedometer and a slick, outer-ring needle system, the gauges offer a nice blend of analog and digital displays.
But we're more interested in the vehicle's mechanical innards. The C 4Matic is propelled by the same liter V6 engine found in its rear-wheel-drive counterpart, complete with identical power figures. The engine produces horsepower and pound-feet of torque and manages to net the same 20 miles per gallon city / 29 mpg highway Environmental Protection Agencyfigures as the rear-drive C Coupe. Mercedes-Benzemployed a raft of engineering cleverness to reduce driveline drag, starting with the seven-speed automatic transmission designed and built in house. The gearbox is the core of the company's modular 4Matic system, and uses an internal transfer case to slim efficiency losses.
Instead of a separate transfer case unit bolted to the rear of the transmission, the seven-speed diverts power to the front wheels directly from the tailshaft via a separate, but still internal, shaft. In addition to curtailing driveline losses, the design offers significant weight savings: pounds over the third-generation 4Matic architecture and pounds over the company's first all-wheel-drive systems. The modular design also allows the vehicle to use the same suspension geometry as the base C-Class Coupe, which means both ride height and turning radius remain unaffected.
The system defaults to a 45/55 drive force split from front to rear, though that figure can swing to 30/70 in either direction as needed. As a result, the system lacks some of the playful rear-wheel-drive bias we typically enjoy in a proper all-wheel-drive sports car, but this is a luxury coupe first and foremost and it's hard to argue with the level of grip on hand. In addition to the mechanical enhancements, the fourth-generation 4Matic system boasts an upgraded version of the company's 4ETS traction control hardware. When the vehicle's sensors detect slip, the brake systemautomatically slows the freewheeling to enhance grip by sending the majority of the power to the tire with the most purchase.
The result is impressive. We would feel entirely comfortable putting anyone behind the wheel in the midst of the next ice age, regardless of their snow-driving experience. Between the 4Matic system's capability and 4ETS' logic, no amount of ham-fistedness or fondness for throttle yielded anything beyond a split-second of understeer before we merrily resumed course.
That's not to say that 4ETS is a gentle hand ushering the C 4Matic Coupe away from impending snow banks, though. With its reliance on actuating the brake system to recover traction, the technowizardry arrives on the scene with all the subtlety of Larry the Cable Guy. Power vanishes, speed diminishes exponentially and the two-door simply tracks in the correct direction. Don't expect to be able to hold any beautiful slides through the powder or kick out the tail with any flair with the e-nannies on. You may find yourself fighting the system if you have solid experience on slick surfaces, too.
Turn in for any brief sliding or attempt to power your way out of impending doom, and the Benz's traction control systems will yank the rug out from under you. It's almost as if driver and machine stumble over one another in a series of clumsy reactions. If you're looking for a vehicle to imperil life, limb and sheetmetal in the name of drifting, this isn't your steed.
In addition to 4ETS, the C 4Matic Coupe is laden with a small symphony of safety system acronyms. While 4ETS may not be defeated by the driver, the closely linked ESP system can be switched off via the vehicle menu mounted in the gauge cluster. Doing so can be useful for trudging your way through deep snow and the like, but the instant the driver touches the brakes, ESP is reactivated. What's more, even with ESP off, 4ETS will continue to actuate the brakes to direct power to the wheel with the most grip.
Fortunately, we doubt C-Class Coupe buyers will be interested in drift-happy showboating. For those who simply need to get where they're going in style regardless of weather, the C 4Matic Coupe is a more than capable machine. As we threaded our way between the peaks of Stouts Mountain and Ross Peak and wound through the Teton Pass toward Jackson, the two-door simply wouldn't falter. With snow piled well above the vehicle's roof on either side of the road and more coming, the Mercedes-Benz found itself in the company of beaten full-size four-wheel drive pickup trucks, the odd Subaruand a snow blower the size of a city block.
On dry tarmac, and presumably without the Continentalsnow tires on our tester, the 4Matic can jump to 60 mph in around seconds, a time identical to the figure served up by the standard C Coupe. In reality, the only concession a buyer would have to make in the switch from C Coupe to C 4Matic Coupe is price. Whereas the base two-door weighs in at $42, without destination, adding all-wheel drive to the build sheet will set buyers back by an additional $2, At $45,, the two-door Mercedes-Benz is a shave less expensive than the $46, BMWi xDrive Coupe.
The i arrives with less horsepower and lower highway fuel economythan the snow-going Mercedes-Benz as well. And what of Audi? Interestingly enough, the company doesn't really offer consumers a mid-level all-wheel-drive coupe. Buyers may either purchase the A5, with its turbocharged liter four-cylinder engine good for hp, or the brawnier S5powered by a hp, liter V8. But even with its lower power figures and smaller engine, the A5is only around half a second slower than the C 4Matic Coupe to 60 mph. The A5 also offers better fuel economy at 31 mpg highway and a considerably lower price tag of $37, excluding destination charges. That said, optioning the Audi to the level of kit found on our tester would require saddling up to Premium Plus trim at $41,
Were it our money on the line, we would lose some serious sleep over the debate between the A5 and the C 4Matic Coupe. While both vehicles offer similar low-traction performance, the Audi A5still strikes us as the more driver-oriented vehicle. With the availability of a manual transmission, better fuel economy and a lower price tag, the Audi is a good foil for the excellent interior, powerful V6 engine and lightweight 4Matic system found on the C Either way, we'll forever be indebted to Mercedes-Benz for ferrying us through the Rocky Mountains without having to reenact the more thrilling moments of the Donner Party saga.
At the end of the day, buyers now have a wealth of options when it comes to attractive all-wheel-drive coupes. The C 4Matic Coupe is further proof that Mercedes-Benz remains serious about offering all-wheel drive-authority that rankles the chains of both Audi and BMW – not to mention Cadillac– with clever engineering innovation that delivers extra grip without dynamic or efficiency penalties.
Mercedes-Benz C-Class Information
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