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#5

in 2012 Upscale Midsize Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $24,719 - $30,257
Original MSRP: $34,800 - $42,370
MPG: 21 City / 31 Hwy
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2012 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 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class gains a turbocharged four-cylinder engine for its C250 models this year, while the 350 has a more powerful V6 engine. Reviewers like the engines, but say the turbo four isn’t as good as the ones in some rivals. The C-Class has one of the most tautly-sprung suspensions Mercedes has produced in years, aimed directly at the BMW 3-Series. It's still bested, though, by many others in the segment.

  • "The C250's 1.8-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine is a fine addition to the line; it's very refined and delivers enough power to make the car is fun to drive." -- Consumer Guide
  • "While the 3 Series is still the better performer on a canyon road, the C-Class's dynamics are catching up." -- Motor Trend

Acceleration and Power

The 2012 C-Class lineup has three different engines to choose from. The rear-wheel drive C250 gets a 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 201 horsepower. C300 models, which are the only ones that get all-wheel drive, have a 3.0-liter V6 that makes 228 horsepower. Rear-wheel drive Mercedes-Benz C350 models get a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 302 horsepower, which is a significant increase in power compared with last year’s model. The most powerful C-Class model is the 451-horsepower C63 AMG, which is reviewed separately. A seven-speed automatic transmission is standard on all models.

Fuel economy in the 2012 C-Class depends on the powertrain. The EPA says C250 sedans and coupes should earn 21/31 mpg city/highway. The AWD C300 gets an estimated 17/24 mpg. C350 sedans get 20/29 mpg and C350 coupes get 19/28 mpg.

Most test drivers like the turbo four, but some say it’s not as strong as turbo four engines from rivals, like Audi. Reviewers really like the V6 engines, saying they’re potent and responsive. The seven-speed auto also gets positive marks for being smooth.

  • "Most of the time, the four is barely audible, but it emits a healthy growl when worked hard." -- Car and Driver
  • "We spent most of our driving time behind the wheel of a C350 sedan and enjoyed the 3.5-liter V6's ample power and the smoothness of the new seven-speed automatic." -- Popular Mechanics
  • "Initial response, however, is weak before the turbo kicks in. This turbo boost isn't nearly as well integrated as in Audi's 2.0-liter TFSI four-cylinder, and the engine note is uninspiring." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "Though the C250's four-cylinder isn't as potent as the turbocharged four-cylinder in the Audi A4/A5, its performance should be suitable for most drivers; the C300 4Matic offers slightly more power and all-weather traction. With the C350, you get an engine that's truly compelling; this V6 has a sharp, responsive character and increased hp for 2012." -- Edmunds
  • "The V6 is quiet at light throttle, but wakes up with some pedal. It sounds good at lower revs where most C-Class driver will spend their time." -- Autoblog

Handling and Braking

The 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class’ Sport and Luxury models offer slightly different handling, but test drivers say that either variant is controlled, smooth and precise. Sport models have a firmer ride, while Luxury models handle bumps with ease for a softer ride.

  • "C-Class Luxury models exhibit a commendable blend of compliance and control. Tar strips and rough pavement generate little disturbance. Coupes are slightly firmer, but still provide a generally comfortable ride." -- Consumer Guide
  • "While not floaty or detached feeling, the C-Class rides well over imperfect pavement and transmits little road noise to the cabin. Handling is direct and predictable. The car barely rolls in corners and tracks true to the pilot's inputs. Enthusiasts looking for a fully engaged BMW M3 sedan experience will be disappointed, but the average buyer searching for a small luxury sedan will feel invincible." -- Popular Mechanics
  • "Regardless of whether you opt for the 2012 C250, C300 or C350, Mercedes' entry-level luxury car boasts precise steering and handling, as well as overall driving dynamics that measure up just fine compared to other sedans and coupes in the segment. Despite their somewhat sporty character, the Sport variants are never harsh on the road and can tackle long road trips with ease. The Luxury variants ride a little softer and have a quieter exhaust system, resulting in a more serene driving environment." -- Edmunds
  • "Even in Sport mode, this is a sporty sedan, not a sport sedan - more of a baby S-Class, not an Infiniti G. Cornering is clean and predictable; there's no toss-and-set, just a smooth roll-and-stick." -- Autoblog

Next Steps: 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

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