I was happy to see these very positive reviews that three Autoweek Magazine editors gave the 2012 Mercedes-Benz C300 Luxury model. I’ve been an Autoweek subscriber for almost 15 years now, it’s a great car magazine, a real mix of industry information as well as consumer info.
EDITOR WES RAYNAL: Personally, I think the 2012 Mercedes-Benz C300 is a class act. It’s well built, feels solid like a tank, is fast enough (barely), has good grip with AWD—overall it’s a nice smallish car. I have not driven the new BMW 3-series yet, so at present this is my favorite small German sedan. Perhaps the 3-series will change my mind, but if it rides on BMW’s dreadful run-flat tires, I doubt it.
The car felt fairly nimble considering that it has AWD. But it really shines out on the freeway, where it charges forward so smooth and steady and sure-footed (for a small car), the next thing you know you’re going a bit too much over the speed limit. It’s the solidity and smoothness; it drives like a much bigger car. Does that mean it’s a little soft? A little wafty? Perhaps, but at my advanced age I find I like that more and more.
My only beef is that back-seat room is a little tight. With five-foot-eight-inch me in the driver’s seat and a teenager behind me, legroom is tight back. For short trips it’s fine. On longer ones, I’d probably here some whining.
EXECUTIVE EDITOR ROGER HART: This C-class was a joy to spend some time with. The overall comfort level is quite high, and the only ones who might complain would be those stuck in the back seat. As a daily driver used for commuting to and from the office, this car is perfect. I didn’t find the AWD to really hamper the handling or feel of the car, and in fact, if one was using this as a daily driver anywhere in the snowbelt, having it would be confidence-inspiring. The 3.0-liter V6 is adequate; you won’t win many light-to-light drag races, but the benefit is average fuel economy in the mid-20s.
This car seems a bit stouter than the previous-gen car, a little more robust. That should give buyers some confidence that the thing will last. Previous-generation Cs had some issues with that (see our final report on a long-term C-class wagon as just one example), but this thing is tight, with excellent panel gaps all around and an interior that is simple and straight-forward—once you get the hang of operating the COMAND system.
I was surprised that this car didn’t have a backup camera as it has the standard navigation/infortainment screen, and as far as options, that was the only thing missing. For a car priced in the low $40,000, I think this represents real value in the entry-level luxury segment, and I’d love to have a Baby Benz in my garage.
ROAD TEST EDITOR JONATHAN WONG: The C-class coupe was a new addition to the lineup for the 2012 model year, but the sedan also enjoyed a light update. From a driving standpoint, the seven-speed automatic transmission was updated to be more responsive, more fuel efficient and quieter, and it does perform well. When teamed with this V6, it offers crisp shifts and cracks off downshifts almost immediately after you squeeze the throttle to speed up.
Past C-class cars were a letdown in almost every area, but I’ve become a fan of the current model. Build quality in the interior is much better, with nice materials, and the exterior styling is handsome and clean.
It’s also become a decent handler, displaying respectable grip in corners and decent steering feel and response. One thing Mercedes still needs to work on is the brake-pedal feel that is still too squishy for my liking. In C300 form, this car is still more of an around-town cruiser than a corner carver, which is fine. It’s very comfortable for daily use, with a suspension that absorbs bumps beautifully and a cabin that is well isolated from unwanted noises.
This car still doesn’t have the reflexes of a BMW 3-series, but it has closed the gap a whole lot, and it’s something that you can still have a fair amount of fun with if you throw it around. I just wish Mercedes still offered a manual transmission as it used to back in the old days. That’s about the only thing I miss about the old C-classes.
2012 Mercedes-Benz C300 4Matic Luxury Sedan
Base Price: $38,895
As-Tested Price: $43,980
Drivetrain: 3.0-liter V6; AWD, seven-speed automatic
Output: 228 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 221 lb-ft @ 2,700-5,000 rpm
Curb Weight: 3,737 lb
Fuel Economy (EPA/AW): 20/23.3 mpg
Options: Premium I package including SiriusXM satellite radio, iPod/MP3 media interface, 10-way power driver’s seat with three-position memory, power-adjustable steering column, split-folding rear seats, heated front seats and Harman/Kardon LOGIC7 surround-sound system ($2,500); diamond white paint ($1,515); mbrace in-vehicle services ($660); luxury sedan package including luxury styling, Mercedes-Benz star on hood, 17-inch alloy wheels with all-season tires, luxury interior and Burl Walnut wood trim ($410)
For more information: Check out the 2012 Mercedes-Benz C300 4Matic Luxury Sedan at shopautoweek.com