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#4

in 2009 Upscale Midsize Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $16,277 - $18,861
Original MSRP: $32,900 - $39,000
MPG: 18 City / 26 Hwy
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2009 Mercedes-Benz C Class Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

The 2009 Mercedes-Benz C-Class has one of the most tautly-sprung suspensions Mercedes has produced in years, aimed squarely at the BMW 3-Series. It's still bested, though, by many others in the segment. Its base V6 engine is no weakling, but doesn't boast the same low-end torque that some of its rivals claim.

  • "In a straight line, the 2009 Mercedes-Benz C300 and C350 won't set any records. But steering and handling are precise, and in terms of overall dynamics, the car measures up just fine compared to others in this segment." -- Edmunds
  • "All C-Class models exhibit a commendable blend of compliance and control." -- Consumer Guide
  • "This car has no bad dynamic habits. It might not be as much kinky fun with the road-to-neuron connection of a BMW 3-series, but I would be surprised if the Benz can't hang with the Bimmer around a short road course." -- Los Angeles Times
  • "On our initial test drives over a couple of days on the highways and mountain roads surrounding Valencia, Spain, we could feel a new edge of precision and sportiness that the old C-Class simply didn't have." -- New Car Test Drive
  • "I'd volunteer to drive this one cross-country in a heartbeat." -- Washington Post
  • "In the Luxury trim, the C300 delivers an enjoyable ride, responsive handling and a quiet cabin." -- Kelley Blue Book

Acceleration and Power

C-Class cars are rear-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive is available. C300 models have a 3.0-liter V6 under the hood, making 228 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. That's enough for most drivers. Paired with its standard seven-speed automatic, the EPA rates it for 18/25 mpg. C350s are powered by a large, 3.5-liter V6 making 268 hp, which more closely tracks the performance of the 3-Series. The C63 AMG offers one of the only V8s available in this class, giving it 0 to 60 times under five seconds. It's no fuel-saver, though. The EPA says it achieves 12 mpg city/19 mpg highway.

  • "The C300 isn't drunk with power, but with 221 pound-feet of torque from 2,700 to 5,000 rpm, and a quick-witted adaptive transmission with seven gears in the transom, the car always seems to be on the right foot. ... I took the car out for a flog up through the hill country to Kern County and came away thinking the larger engine option (and diminished fuel economy) couldn't pay for itself in adrenaline." -- Los Angeles Times
  • "C300 models provide good acceleration both around town and in highway passing sprints. Mercedes estimates 0-60 mph in 7.1 seconds, which seems somewhat optimistic to us. C350 is stronger at all speeds, particularly in highway passing. Mercedes estimates a credible 6.1-second 0-60 time. In both, the automatic transmission operates smoothly but can be slow to downshift for more power. Likewise, it's also slow to respond to manual shift inputs." -- Consumer Guide
  • "With an estimated 0-to-60 time of 6.1 seconds, the 350 Sport is no slouch in its class, but our thoughts can't help but drift to the magnificent 300-horsepower, 3.0-liter twin-turbo inline-six in the new BMW 335i and wonder why the Benz's block wasn't at least put on the massage table." -- Motor Trend
  • "Mercedes says zero to 60 mph acceleration takes about 8 seconds with the 3.0-liter six and about a second and a half less with the larger V-6. I think most of you will find the smaller engine quite adequate." -- Newsday
  • "The new 3.0-liter V6 proves more than adequate for the C-Class. Although the C350's 3.5-liter V6 delivers 40 more horsepower and shaves one second from the C's zero-to-60 time, it costs some $5,000 more than the C300 and offers no manual transmission or the 4MATIC option." -- Kelley Blue Book

Handling and Braking

The most significant improvement brought on by the 2008 redesign of the C-Class came in handling. The 2009 may be an even sharper car, with the same components recalibrated by engineers who have had a year to study how to get the most out of them. Luxury and Sport models offer buyers a choice of a compliant or athletic ride.

  • "Handling errs on the side of luxury-even on Sport models-and the C300 and the C350 can't match the dynamics of the BMW 3-series or Infiniti G37." -- Car and Driver
  • "Despite its somewhat sporty character, the C-Class is never harsh on the road, and it can tackle long road trips with ease. The C300 Luxury rides a little softer than the Sport versions and has a quieter exhaust system, resulting in a more serene driving environment, though naturally this model doesn't handle quite as well." -- Edmunds
  • "Sport w/18-inch tires has slightly sharper steering response, but all models corner with surefooted aplomb and little body lean. Steering is a bit numb but properly weighted. Braking control is strong." -- Consumer Guide
  • "On the road, the C350 Sport...gives a firm ride that may be a bit taut for some customers, but I found it just fine. Handling is excellent. Steering is precise, with just the right amount of feedback and road feel. Mercedes has really upped its game in this area." -- Orlando Sentinel
  • "While there's certainly more information coming from the steering than in the previous C-Class, this is by no means a class leader in terms of feel. Good, just not great." -- Edmunds
  • "The suspension is nearly unflappable no matter how bad the road or how hard the car is driven." -- Newsday

Next Steps: 2009 Mercedes-Benz C Class

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