2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sedan: C250 RWD, C300 4MATIC & C350 RWD Review - Official photos, features, specs, pricing

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The restyled 2012 C-Class sedan is scheduled to arrive in the U.S. in August of 2011.

Photo: 2012 Mercedes-Benz C350 SedanPhoto: 2012 Mercedes-Benz C350 SedanCheck out more new 2012 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sedan pictures in our 2012 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sedan photo gallery

The front and rear end of the popular Mercedes sedan have been enhanced with a more distinctive design. The luxurious interior is now emphasized by the stylish new dashboard, which features a premium, fine-grain finish and stylish trim elements, as well as a high-resolution color display in the instrument cluster.

Photo: 2012 Mercedes-Benz C350 SedanPhoto: 2012 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sedan

Fuel economy has been improved by as much as 15 percent, thanks to new direct-injection engines and the redesigned 7-speed automatic transmission.

Photo: 2012 Mercedes-Benz C350 SedanPhoto: 2012 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sedan

Five new driver assistance systems ranging from the ATTENTION ASSIST drowsiness detection system through to the Blind Spot Assist are now available in the C-Class lineup. New-generation telematics offer new infotainment and navigation features.

Photo: 2012 Mercedes-Benz C350 SedanPhoto: 2012 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sedan

The U.S. model line-up consists the:

• C250 RWD : 1.8L Turbo I4 , 201 hp / 229 lb-ft

• C300 4MATIC: 3.0L V6, 228 hp / 221 lb-ft
• C350 RWD: 3.5L V6, 302 hp / 273 lb-ft

Photo: 2012 Mercedes-Benz C350 SedanPhoto: 2012 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sedan

“The benchmark in its segment”

“The C-Class Sedan has been the global market leader in its segment since 2008, so it is highly topical. But the comprehensive updating of our high-volume model also shows that even in the global economic crisis we have had the strength to invest in our product portfolio without making any compromises. For us the new-generation C-Class with more than 2000 new parts is a facelift – others would speak of a new car.” Dr Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars

“We are currently making greater leaps forward than ever before in the history of the car where efficiency is concerned. This becomes clear if you compare our compact top model from 1989, the 190E 2.5-16 Evo I, with the current C220 CDI. The performance is virtually identical, and in the space of just 20 years consumption has been halved, whilst comfort, safety and emission characteristics have drastically improved at the same time. And we are certainly keeping up this speed: we are inventing the car for the second time.” Dr Thomas Weber, Member of the Daimler Board of Management responsible for Group Research and Head of Development, Mercedes-Benz Cars

“In order to keep delivery times as short as possible for our customers, we have production of the C-Class running at full steam in three plants. We introduce the extensive changes for the new generation, such as the hood made of aluminum, on the production line in a flying changeover. This is a challenge for logistics and processes, and it is only thanks to the motivation and flexibility of our employees that we can do this with confidence. Some of our competitors envy us for this ‘Daimler spirit’.” Dr Wolfgang Bernhard, Member of the Daimler Board of Management responsible for Production and Purchasing, Mercedes-Benz Cars

“The drive system and safety systems in the new-generation C-Class offer the comfort, efficiency and safety of our luxury vehicles. The new telematics generation connects the C-Class with the internet. Plus, with many significant details in the interior, the vehicle calls to mind the new CLS and sets totally new standards in its segment where the quality impression is concerned.” Dr Joachim Schmidt, Member of Mercedes-Benz Cars Management responsible for Sales and Marketing

“The new-generation C-Class also sets the pace in its segment when it comes to design. This is especially apparent in the interior: fine materials displaying painstaking attention to detail and the generous use of trim parts add an exclamation mark: the C-Class is dressed up to the nines.” Prof. Gorden Wagener, Head of Design, Mercedes-Benz Cars

Photo: 2012 Mercedes-Benz C350 SedanPhoto: 2012 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sedan

Design

Expressive, resolute, self-assured

• Striking: restyled bumpers, hood and headlamps

• Eye-catching: tail lights with an impression of depth thanks to LED indicators
• High-grade redesigned dashboard emphasizes premium standard
The C-Class has undergone a comprehensive makeover. The bumper now has a more distinctive and dynamic design, with the front end adopting the brand’s new design language. The center air intake opens upward in a v-shape and forms the core element of the grille design, while istinctive lines emerge from the base of the aggressive arrow design in the center. Running beneath the headlamps, these character lines transition into the side profile. The outboard air intakes in the bumper are positioned very low down to give the car a more muscular stance.

The C-Class features a new aluminum hood, which helps reduce weight to improve fuel efficiency. Contours around the headlamps and grille bring additional emphasis to the front-end arrow form. Working together with the redesigned headlamps, the overall front-end look is far more distinctive.

Modified clear glass headlamps create a more dynamic and determined look and, together with the hood, grille and bumper, enhance the arrow visual at the front end. This precise, contemporary look is reinforced by the design of both the exterior and interior of the headlamp units, which feature a finely balanced interplay between matte and gloss surfaces. The halogen headlamps follow the classic format with low beam located on the outside and high beam in the inside, while the indicator lamps are discreetly positioned in the outer corners toward the fenders.

The available bi-xenon headlamps come with active functions and bring added depth to the appearance with a series of LED modules. A C-shaped positioning light defines the nighttime design, with cornering lights located behind it and stretching outward to the main lamp module. At the base of the headlamps are broad horizontal LED indicator units. Also horizontal are the LED daytime running lights located in the bumper, which make the C-Class unmistakable from a distance.

On the rear bumper, the character lines and shutlines have been modified to add emphasis to the vehicle’s stance. This is especially evident in the steep rise of the character line running outward toward the rear lights. A continuous character line on the upper edge of the rear bumper runs into the fenders of the C-Class to provide a connection to the sides and emphasizes the sporty character of the rear view. A new one-piece jewel case on the tail lights provides further integration into the rear of the vehicle. The characteristic sinuous surface line is now reflected on the inside of the lights and is reminiscent of earlier models. The distinctive depth of the lights is achieved by LED indicators located in the center that appear to float in front of the more deeply set red LED bands above and below. The rear light pattern is particularly distinctive at night.

The redesigned tail lights are even more neatly integrated into the tail end by a continuous covering lens. The characteristic surface meander is now on the inside of the light, and reminiscent of preceding model series. The impression of depth is achieved by a centrally located LED indicator, which appears to float in front of the red upper and lower light bands.

Photo: 2012 Mercedes-Benz C350 SedanPhoto: 2012 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sedan

In all its finery: restyled dashboard and high-grade surfaces

One focal point of the work done in the interior was the redesign of the dashboard with the aim of creating a powerful, sporty and premium look-and-feel that includes extensive enhancement to the trim. The surfaces of the controls are more finely detailed and feature a metallic finish. The stepped hood of the instrument binnacle now extends to incorporate the central display and runs onward into the passenger side enhanced by a subtle character line. The central, trapezoidal air vents and the outer circular vents are accentuated with metallic trim elements.

Central to the design of the new dashboard is a prominent trim panel which stretches from the central air vents along the passenger side to the outer air vent, adding visual width to the interior. The surface grain on the top portion of the dashboard continues along the upper edges of the door panels.

The new-generation center console is distinguished by its rectangular silver keys and emphasizes the premium feel of the interior in combination with matte keys, high-gloss surfaces and a new knurled control knob. Together with the new-generation telematics, the restyled C-Class also receives a new instrument binnacle with integrated display. Oriented toward the driver are three tubular gauge surrounds with metallic surfaces that further enhance the character of the C-Class.

The luxury feel is emphasized by the new-generation leather steering wheel introduced with the all-new CLS and now available as standard in the C-Class. The steering wheel features a chrome-plated central spoke and further accentuates the car’s stylish and sporty ambience.

Interior

Higher quality and more comfortable

• Dashboard: new design emphasizes premium standard

• Instrument cluster: high-resolution color display
Brimming with a wealth of high-grade details in the interior, all reminiscent of the new CLS, the C-Class sets new benchmarks in its segment when it comes to quality and comfort. The interior designers have paid painstaking attention to restyling the dashboard, whose new features include its surface grain, the integral screen, prominent trim and a high-resolution color display in the instrument cluster. A nappa leather steering wheel comes as part of the standard specification.

Generous: the interior dimensions and load capacity

The C-Class is amongst the most spacious vehicles in its segment. The front shoulder room and the elbow width amount to 54.7 and 56.7 inches, respectively. In the rear, the sedan offers shoulder room of 55 inches and an elbow width of 57.6 inches.

The C-Class offers plenty of space for luggage: the sedan’s cargo capacity is 12.4 cubic feet. Mercedes-Benz also offers a divided backrest which can be quickly and easily folded forward on a 1:2 ratio. The head restraints move forward together with the backrests and do not need to be removed first

Comfort on long journeys as standard: the front seats

The seats in the C-Class make a valuable contribution to comfort on long journeys. The height and backrest angle of the front seats can be electrically adjusted. Even more ease of operation is available as an optional extra in the form of fully electric adjustment of the driver’s and front-passenger seat. In conjunction with the Memory package three settings can be stored.

Comfortable and safe: the rear seats

The rear seat unit is of one-piece construction. Three head restraints and three inertia-reel seat belts ensure the safety of the occupants. The outer rear seats are also equipped with belt tensioners and belt force limiters, as well as head restraints adjustable for height and angle. ISOFIX, the standardized attachment system for child seats, is included as part of the standard specification.

Photo: 2012 Mercedes-Benz C350 SedanPhoto: 2012 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sedan

Model range

Stronger differentiation of character types

• Fresh look: new trim parts, steering wheels and exterior colors

• Styled for convenience: ambient lighting and luxury head restraints
The current C-Class was the first Mercedes sedan to have design and equipment lines with their own individual looks. The more classic luxury models and the standard version bear the Mercedes star on the hood. On the sport vehicles the trademark is positioned in the center of the radiator grille – as the hallmark expression of sporty Mercedes models. In addition to the extended range of standard equipment – now featuring a leather steering wheel and a shift/selector lever in nappa leather – the luxury and sport lines both continue to form the basis for the C-Class’s individualization range.

The new C250 Sport and C300 4MATIC Sport models come with standard brushed aluminum trim, while the C350 Sport has distinctive Black Ash. The Luxury versions feature Burl Walnut trim.

The sport sedan is fitted with a three-spoke steering wheel, which is covered with perforated leather in the 3 and 9 o’clock position, while the luxury sedan features a four-spoke steering wheel. The sport has a specific seat design with pads in the backrest which are made of fabric/ARTICO man-made leather or leather.

There are also fresh colors for the exterior: diamond white metallic, magnetite black metallic, sapphire grey mettalic and lunar blue metallic are the names of the new paints. The sedan is equipped with ambient lighting of the vehicle – integrated in the external mirror housings of the luxury and sport. Over and above this, both lines feature standard-fit single-tone illumination of the door opener, plus lights in the footwells. This ambient lighting produces a pleasant lighting mood in the interior when traveling at night.

Photo: 2012 Mercedes-Benz C350 SedanPhoto: 2012 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sedan

Active safety

Warning and intervening

• Help in an emergency: five new driving assistance systems

• Holistic approach: “Real Life Safety”
Preventing accidents and minimizing the consequences thereof: this is the holistic approach taken by those working in Mercedes-Benz safety research, which the company terms “Real Life Safety”. The basis of this is formed by what the in-house engineers know as “driver-fitness safety”, alongside ride and seating comfort, plus quiet-running characteristics, such as effective headlamp and windshield wiper systems and simple and safe operation. Safe handling that has no nasty surprises in store comes courtesy of advanced chassis systems, which for years now have also been fitted as standard with ESP®, developed by Mercedes-Benz.

An important anticipatory role is increasingly being played by a large number of assistance systems which ease the burden on the driver – especially in critical situations. This is where Mercedes-Benz uses its unique position in the segment of luxury vehicles as a spearhead of technological development. New technologies are then integrated into the high-volume model series as quickly as possible.

New driver assistance systems

With a total of five new driving assistance systems ranging from ATTENTION ASSIST drowsiness detection to PARKTRONIC, the C-Class reaches a new level of safety. The assistance systems are based on the latest radar, camera and sensor technology, and cover frequent accident causes such as driving too closely, fatigue and darkness. The new assistance systems at a glance:

• Adaptive Highbeam Assist

• ATTENTION ASSIST
• PARKTRONIC including Parking Guidance
• Lane Keeping Assist
• Blind Spot Assist

Electronic helpers: the new assistance systems in the C-Class

Adaptive Highbeam Assist. When vehicles are detected ahead of or approaching the vehicle, this system automatically dips the beams and adjusts the range of the headlamps appropriate to the distance. This means that the main beam can be used more frequently.

Lane Keeping Assist. In the case that a Mercedes-Benz vehicle inadvertently drifts over a solid line to the right or left of a lane a warning sign in the instrument cluster and vibration of the steering wheel give the driver warning.

Blind Spot Assist. Employs radar to monitor the area to the side and behind vehicle, and issues a visual and acoustic warning if the driver attempts to change lanes when there is another vehicle hidden in the blind spot.

ATTENTION ASSIST warns drivers when it detects that they are over-tired. Studies have shown that around a quarter of all serious highway accidents are caused by drowsy drivers. With ATTENTION ASSIST (standard for Luxury and Sport), Mercedes-Benz is therefore making another important contribution towards helping to avoid accidents: it employs high-resolution sensors to observe driver behavior and can recognize whether the driver is tired or not paying attention, based primarily on steering wheel movements.

PARKTRONIC including Parking Guidance: ultrasonic sensors measure the length of parking spaces as the car drives past; the cockpit display provides a schematic representation of the recommended parking maneuver. Ultrasonic sensors then support the driver whilst parking.

Other helpers:

ADAPTIVE BRAKE: this Mercedes-Benz brake system offers assistance functions for greater safety and comfort, such as a HOLD function when waiting at traffic lights, and Hill-Start Assist which can help prevent rolling backwards when moving off on a downhill gradient.

Headlamp Assist: a sensor on the windshield registers the lighting conditions. As a result, the headlamps can be turned on automatically when darkness falls.

Under the microscope: the new driving simulator

C-Class is the crucial element of the virtual world

October 2010 saw the inauguration of Mercedes-Benz’s new driving simulator at the company’s Technology Center in Sindelfingen. With its 360° screen, fast electric power system and the twelve meter-long rail for transverse movements, the dynamic driving simulator is the most powerful in the entire car industry.

The real car in the virtual world is a C-Class in which the test driver takes a seat in the testing cell. It can be reprogrammed electronically to mimic the behavior of every current or future Mercedes model. The testing cell is in the form of a hexapod on six moving supports. In addition to the C-Class itself it includes the projection wall on which a realistic display of the road traffic is shown, along with moving pedestrians, oncoming traffic and houses.

The vehicle controls are linked to the computerized control system of the driving simulator by data lines. When the test driver turns the steering wheel or accelerates, these reactions are registered by the computer control system and have the same effects as in real traffic situations. The scenery on the screen changes constantly and the moving cell simulates the vehicle’s attitude on the road, for example front-end dive when braking. The computer calculates the driving behavior of the car more than 1000 times per second, issuing the relevant commands to the electrics. It is able to move the cell transversely by up to twelve meters at a maximum speed of ten meters per second (22 mph).

“The new driving simulator enables us to reproduce highly aggressive driving maneuvers such as lane-changes even more realistically, and to research the behavior of the driver and vehicle in road traffic even more intensively. The knowledge gained here can then be implemented in our series-production vehicles very soon afterwards”, Dr Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management responsible for Group Research and Development, Mercedes-Benz Cars, explains. Passive safety

Top marks for safety

• Comprehensive protection: nine airbags and NECK-PRO head restraints

• Best purchasing decision: top marks in US safety test
• Crash performance under the microscope: sophisticated simulations
The C-Class safety concept has been optimized based on the analysis of real-life accidents. As part of the standard specification, nine airbags, belt tensioners, belt force limiters and NECK-PRO crash-responsive head restraints offer the occupants an extremely high level of protection should an accident occur. The body structure has been designed to ensure that, in the event of a frontal collision, the impact forces are distributed over a wide area and on four independently acting impact levels, meaning that the passenger compartment remains largely intact. Around 70 percent of all the bodyshell panels are made from state-of-the-art, high-strength steel alloys that minimize weight and maximize safety.

Crash-test rating: top marks in Europe and the USA

The safety concept also does brilliantly in standardized rating crash tests. The renowned American Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), for instance, declared the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Top Safety Pick three times in a row (in 2009, 2010 and 2011) – deeming it to be the best purchasing decision with regard to safety. The C-Class achieved good ratings in all the safety criteria which were examined.

Each year, the experts at the IIHS rate car models based on stringent safety criteria, thereby providing an important tool to help buyers make a decision. In the assessments the vehicles are subjected to front and side crash tests, and experts also evaluate the protection against neck injuries in rear impacts. For all three criteria, the C-Class was awarded top marks.

By rating the C-Class a Top Safety Pick, the IIHS has confirmed the vehicle’s extremely good performance in crash tests conforming to Euro NCAP (the European New Car Assessment Program), in which the C-Class was awarded five stars, making it one of the safest cars on the market.

Crash-test simulation: two million finite elements

Extensive crash-test simulations formed the basis for safety development work on the C-Class. This is a field which has made great leaps forward: at the beginning of the 1990s, Mercedes-Benz was performing around 200 computerized crash tests per annum. By the year 2000, this number had already increased to 1500 simulations, and in 2010 more than 50,000 were carried out. And this is by no means the only impressive set of statistics: for the tests on the W 201, the C-Class’s predecessor from the 1980s, the computer model consisted of 25,000 finite elements. Nowadays the level of detail is much greater – the digital replica of the current C-Class (W 204), for example, comprises around two million elements. The planar grid of the virtual vehicle structure is now composed of tiny rectangles and triangles with an edge length of 0.12 inches. This facilitates a far more precise and detailed deformation analysis than previously, when, at 0.98 inches the elements were so much larger.

The hardware has also benefited from on going development, too: the C-Class that was unveiled in 2007 was the first series-production car in the world to be developed using the trend-setting digital prototype (DPT) method. The digital prototype made it possible for all the simulation methods to be pooled for the first time, and thus to create a completely virtual car.

As well as the high development speed, the decisive advantage that computer simulation has over real crash tests lies not only in the fact that the vehicles are not destroyed; even more important than that is the ability which today’s engineers have to detect and follow what actually happens in an impact in great detail. As if with x-ray eyes the engineers can track the course of deformation in extreme slow motion and from any perspective they wish, thus delving further and further into the details every year.

By way of example, in order to be able to reconstruct a vehicle’s spot welds and its tensile shear and compressive strength precisely in the computer model, the simulation experts have performed over 9000 component tests. But there are still limits to simulation, such as fuel density and the performance of the door lock during the crash. This is why real-life and simulated crash texts will continue to complement one another at the company’s Technology Center in Sindelfingen, where they work in close cooperation.

Body, quality and production

Master of quality in the executive segment

• Aluminum: new hood reduces the weight

• Value champion: Mercedes-Benz builds the vehicles with the highest value retention
• Quality: excellent customer feedback in Europe and the USA
• Production: Sindelfingen, Bremen and East London (South Africa)
The right material in the right place: in accordance with this principle, approximately 70 percent of all the sheet metal panels in the C-Class are made of high-strength steel alloys. With minimum weight, they offer maximum strength and thus the highest possible levels of safety. Today’s ultra-high-strength steel sheet panels deserve a special mention. They achieve a tensile strength that is three to four times higher than that of conventional steel grades, making them indispensable for meeting the stringent Mercedes requirements regarding durability and safety. These ultra-high-strength high-tech alloys account for around 20 percent of the weight of the C-Class bodyshell.

Aluminum and plastic are the other two lightweight materials which Mercedes-Benz uses where they offer maximum benefit. The aluminum hood is new, weighing in at some 20 lb less than its steel predecessor and thus reducing the weight where this makes most sense. Other aluminum features on the C-Class include the front fenders, the front-end assembly including its flexible cross member and crash boxes, the sheet metal panel for the parcel shelf in the rear, and the door modules. The spare wheel recess is made of plastic.

The aerodynamics of the C-Class are the mark of the bodyshell’s efficiency. With a Cd figure of 0.27 it not only sets the benchmark in its class, but also glides through the wind better than most compact cars – and even small cars – with its drag area of Cd x A = 0.57 sq. m.

Long-term protection: fully galvanized body with tougher paintwork

Long-term corrosion prevention for the bodywork is based on fully galvanized sheet metal panels. Structure areas of the body which are subjected to high stresses are protected with cavity-fill preserving agent. Sheet metal panel laminations and beads are completely filled with adhesive, whilst systematic sealing of the weld seams and edges with a PVC joint prevents corrosion from occurring. Generous underbody paneling composed of plastic laminate protects the bodywork and engine against stone chipping, moisture and dirt. Axle components, which are also subjected to a great deal of stone chipping damage, are protected by plastic paneling.

Mercedes-Benz makes a major contribution to exemplary long-term quality and value retention with a scratch-resistant clear coat based on nano-technology. This innovative paint system, which celebrated its world debut at Mercedes-Benz at the end of 2003, is a standard-specification feature of the new C-Class and is used for both metallic and non-metallic finishes. Thanks to remarkable advances in the field of nano-technology, it was possible to integrate the tiny ceramic particles measuring less than one millionth of a millimeter into the molecular structure of the paint binder. These particles effect a three-fold improvement in the scratch-resistance of the paint finish and ensure a visibly brighter, long-lasting sheen.

Value champion: Mercedes-Benz builds the vehicles with the highest value retention

“Value champion of 2010” – this is the title bestowed on the current C-Class as well as other Mercedes-Benz models by the market research institute Bähr & Fess Forecast based in Saarbrücken, Germany, on behalf of the specialist magazine “Auto Bild”. According to the market researchers’ prognoses regarding residual value, as a four-year-old car the C220 CDI will have the highest re-sale value in its segment and will then still achieve 53.5 percent of its current new value. Incidentally, the C-Class already took this top spot last year in the analysis carried out by experts on residual value.

Breakdown statistics: Mercedes drivers run into least bother with breakdowns

Since 1978 the ADAC, the biggest European car club, has been publishing its annual breakdown statistics. For its latest set of statistics the automobile association evaluated around 2.04 million breakdown reports filed by its helpers. The incidents registered were breakdowns involving cars aged between one and six years owned by club members who called the ADAC road patrols to ask for assistance. The result was that the C-Class impressed with very good marks in the executive segment and the upper executive segment. Back in 2008 the C-Class had already secured a win for Mercedes-Benz in the executive segment, building on the brand’s success the previous year.

Quality: US study puts the C-Class in first place

In the current quality study conducted by renowned market research institute J.D. Power and Associates for the American market, Mercedes-Benz achieved the best result since 1990. The IQS study (“Initial Quality Study”) assessed the as-delivered quality of vehicles after 90 days. Some 82,000 buyers of new cars and lessees in the USA with model-year 2010 vehicles were surveyed.

Mercedes-Benz has achieved a further marked improvement in comparison to 2009, rising by three positions in the brand ranking to 3rd place. This is the best IQS result for Mercedes since 1990.

Production: top quality has a long tradition

The Mercedes C-Class is currently built at three locations: Sindelfingen, Bremen (both in Germany) and East London (South Africa). The Bremen plant enjoys especially close ties with the compact model family from Mercedes-Benz, as this is the former Borgward and Hanomag-Henschel manufacturing plant.

In 1938 F. W. Borgward put into operation his new car plant for the “Hansa” model in Bremen-Sebaldsbrück. Up until Borgward production ceased in 1961, it was mainly passenger cars that were built here, above all the legendary “Isabella”. In 1971 the tradition-steeped manufacturing facility was taken on by Daimler-Benz and in 1978 it was integrated into the company’s coordinated production system. Vehicles bearing the famous three-pointed star have been built there ever since.

In September 1982, production of body components began in Bremen, initially for the “Baby-Benz” of model series 201, which had already started in Sindelfingen. In November 1983, the entire series production of the new compact model started up in Bremen. Production of its successor, model series 202, began in 1993 in Bremen. The C-Class of model series 203 was also manufactured in Bremen. Start-up of the current C-Class, known internally as model series 204, came in 2007. A challenge was now posed by changing over to aluminum as the material for the hood for the new-generation C-Class during ongoing production.

For the last ten years the compact class has also been rolling off the production line in South Africa: the current C-Class is part of the third vehicle generation built on South Africa’s Eastern Cape. The “East London” plant has been exporting sedans to right-hand drive markets since the year 2000. Since production of the new C-Class began in 2007, left-hand drive vehicles for export to the USA have also been manufactured, and in total more than 100,000 C-Class vehicles have already been built there. In 2010 the plant was in first place in the statistics published by the American quality market researcher J.D. Power in the Europe/Africa category, and received the highest possible accolade in the form of the Platinum Plant Quality Award.

Drive system

More power, lower consumption

• New direct-injection engines with better fuel economy

• All automatic versions now with 7G-TRONIC
All the engines for the C-Class are now classed as BlueEFFICIENCY units, showing that they are especially efficient and environmentally compatible in their use of fuel. A reduction of up to 15 percent has been achieved in fuel consumption. All US models feature the further-developed 7G-TRONIC PLUS seven-speed automatic transmission.

The highlight in the engine lineup is the introduction of the new V6 gasoline engine in the C350 Sport Sedan, featuring the innovative and highly efficient BlueDIRECT process. The improvement in efficiency is combined with a considerable increase in output. The C350 Sport Sedan now generates 302 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque (previously 268 hp and 258 lb-ft), while fuel economy has been improved by 5 percent compared with the outgoing C350 model.

The new 1.8 liter four-cylinder engine (C250 RWD 201 hp / 229 lb-ft ) features direct injection and turbocharging and is also distinguished by outstanding combined fuel economy of 24 mpg. This marks an improvement of nearly 15 percent compared with the 2011MY C300.

The direct fuel injection facilitates higher compression and thus a better thermodynamic efficiency rate, which becomes apparent where fuel consumption is concerned: the new four-cylinder direct-injection engines also consume up to 15 percent less fuel than the comparable V6 engines of the preceding model.

With a range of new features, the new four-cylinder gasoline engine is completely different to its predecessor. The core element of the new engine is the homogeneous direct injection. At a pressure of up to 2,030.53 psi the fuel is fed via a high-pressure line to injectors leading to the combustion chamber. This lowers fuel consumption and also considerably reduces pollutant emissions.

In addition to this, a variable oil pump has been developed, as has a heat-management process which stops the coolant circulation when the engine is cold, so that the engine and engine oil heat up faster during a cold start. What’s more, the camshaft adjusters have been further optimized as vane-type adjusters, and using an integral control valve they facilitate rapid, continuously variable adjustment of the most favorable timing – and therefore a high torque even at low engine speeds. The crankshaft is manufactured from die-cast aluminum, whilst the cylinder head is made of a special high-strength aluminum alloy.

Seven gears: the 7G-TRONIC PLUS automatic transmission now in the C-Class

The C-Class has been given the latest evolution level of the 7G-TRONIC automatic transmission with the suffix “PLUS” – it features enhanced fuel consumption and comfort. The new generation of the torque converter provides an improved response, better durability and reduced noise and vibration levels thanks to a new hydraulic circuit, as well as enhanced dampers and torque converter housing.

The extreme wheel-slip reduction of the torque converter housing, combined with larger mechanical damper de-coupling, helps to reduce consumption significantly. In addition, the gearshift program in ECO mode has been changed in favor of lower engine rpm at cruising speeds. With friction-optimized bearings and seals plus a new automatic transmission oil (FE-ATF) with reduced viscosity in conjunction with an optimized additive package, the transmission itself helps to cut consumption. The higher longevity of the new transmission oil results in new oil-change intervals (every 77,671 miles) if the cooling thresholds are adhered to.

The transmission’s improved electrohydraulic unit and the new friction-reducing materials on some transmission parts in conjunction with optimized software result in better shift quality inside an electrically driven oil pump the 7G-TRONIC PLUS keeps the transmission on standby during stops – an important prerequisite for fast, comfortable starts in conjunction with the ECO start/stop function (stop/start not available in US).

Chassis and suspension

Agile handling and high comfort

• AGILITY CONTROL suspension with variable damping as standard

• Sports suspension and Dynamic Handling package optional
• Choice of around a dozen wheel/tire combinations

The AGILITY CONTROL suspension, which is standard equipment in the C-Class Sedan, harmonizes perfectly with the dramatic design. It is based on an amplitude-dependent damping system: when driving normally with low shock absorber stimulus, the damping forces are automatically reduced for a noticeable improvement in ride comfort – but without any compromise in handling safety. When shock absorber stimuli are of greater magnitude, for example when cornering at speed or taking evasive action, the maximum damping forces are set and the car is stabilized effectively.

The C-Class’s AGILITY CONTROL suspension is complemented by a rack-and-pinion steering system. Positioning the steering gear 3.2 inches in front of the wheel center makes for predictable self-steering characteristics with a slight tendency to understeer.

Precise wheel location: the front axle with McPherson struts

At the front axle, a three-link construction with McPherson struts is used. The lower link level consists of two separate elements which act as torque and cross struts and which are both forged from aluminum. In addition to more precise wheel location, this construction has the advantage of compensating vibrations caused by tire imbalances or fluctuating brake forces better than rigid wishbones.

The third component in the three-link system is the track rod, which connects the transversely installed steering gear with the wheels. The reinforced stabilizer is linked to the spring strut, which is also actively involved in front wheel location.

The struts consist of cylindrical, lateral force compensated coil springs, twin-tube shock absorbers and newly developed three-phase head bearings. If severe body roll occurs, the stabilizer is supported by rebound buffer springs to ensure agile handling accompanied by a high level of comfort.

Controlled compression and rebound: the multi-link independent suspension

The series-production launch of the Mercedes-Benz 190 in 1983 also marked the beginning of the multi-link independent suspension. In many respects this is a feature that remains without parallel to this day, which is why this patented axle principle – naturally in a modified form – is also employed in the C-Class. With the multi-link independent suspension the wheel is fixed to five elastically mounted links that are independent of each other and which restrict its scope for movement in five directions:

1. The lower transverse control arms activate the suspension springs and dampers

2. The upper transverse control arms regulate the camber over the spring travel
3. The torque struts take up the drive and braking forces, and compensate for dive and squat when accelerating and decelerating
4. The diagonal struts are arranged differently from the torque struts, and also help to prevent dive and squat when braking and accelerating
5. The track rods limit changes in the wheel’s toe-in to a desirable minimum

Owing to this intelligent control arm construction, each rear wheel basically retains freedom of movement in one plane only: namely during controlled compression and rebound.

Even more agile sports suspension and Dynamic Handling package as an option

In addition to the standard-specification AGILITY CONTROL suspension, the C-Class offers two other options for adjusting the suspension’s characteristics in line with drivers’ personal preferences. It offers the driver two shift programs to choose from: Sport and Eco.

Within these shift programs the shock absorbers are electrically adjusted on a continuously variable basis. Sensors monitor each driving situation and send the information they gather to an electronic control unit. Depending on the current road or operating condition the system adapts the damping forces individually for each wheel – with infinite adjustment and fully automatically.

New styling: light-alloy wheels for sport and luxury

The sedan sports fivespoke light-alloy wheels as part of their standard specification, whilst the sport and luxury lines are shod in newly styled twin-spoke wheels. Individuality comes courtesy of the extensive range of light-alloy wheels featuring different designs in 17 and 18 format. In place of the standard-fit 7.5 x 17 wheel, the sport model can also be ordered with a 7 x 16 wheel – providing an alternative for customers who want to make use of the consumption potential offered by a smaller and narrower wheel/tire combination.

Under the microscope: 4MATIC

All-wheel drive available on C300

Mercedes-Benz is a successful all-wheel-drive manufacturer in the premium segment, and the 4MATIC drive configuration’s performance on snowy and icy roads plays a significant part in this market success: it delivers high traction reserves, excellent driving stability, optimum safety and a supreme level of comfort. As is the case with the 4MATIC tuning on a dry or wet road, driving stability, and therefore active safety are always to the fore in wintry road conditions.

The mechanical foundations of 4MATIC with its torque distribution of 45 to 55 percent between the front and rear axle, and the plate-type differential lock in the central differential with a basic locking effect of 37 lb-ft offer superior traction in all conditions. This basic conception facilitates high traction values. The system is ably supported by 4ETS – a component of ESP, which replaces the function of a lock through targeted brake actuations at the spinning wheel.

Intervention by the electronic control systems ESP®, 4ETS or ASR can occur as late as possible and the bulk of the drive torque is converted into tractive power, even on slippery roads. All the control intervention functions are performed virtually unnoticed, though the driver is informed immediately if they approach the critical limits. In this instance, a yellow warning symbol flashes in the instrument cluster, clearly signaling that the driving style should be adapted in line with the road conditions.

The drive mechanism‘s permanently engaged design offers key advantages over other systems that first need to diagnose a lack of grip before activating the all-wheel drive. The 4MATIC system on Mercedes-Benz models will have already made use of this valuable time to start transmitting drive torque via the wheels to the road.

Telematics

New infotainment system

• Bluetooth Audio Streaming

• USB connectivity
• 5.8” high mounted screen
• HD Radio
An overview of the various items of equipment and their functions:

The C-Class sedan features an Audio 20 CD system, as standard, with a twin tuner and CD player plus an Aux-in and USB connector. The connectors are now within easy reach in a compartment in the center armrest. The color display has been enlarged and now has a diagonal of 5.8 inches. Thanks to a new “Cover Art” function (included in Multimedia Package), the title images of the music albums currently being played are shown if their data are stored in the audio file.

A new top line in the Audio 20 CD’s menu navigation makes orientation easier and can be operated via the controller. The Bluetooth functions have also been extended: the mobile’s phone book can now automatically be transferred when connecting, and wireless music reproduction is possible from Bluetooth-capable terminals. Text messages can also be displayed. Available as an option, the Multimedia Package includes a rearview camera, voice control, hard drive navigation, 3D Map Views, 7” high resolution LCD color display, album cover art, in-dash 6dvd/cd changer and SD card slot, 10GB music register and Sirius Traffic Service.

The Music Search function enables drivers and passengers to search the hard disc, SD memory cards, USB sticks, CDs and DVDs for specific music tracks and artists. The search can be according to various criteria, for instance album, music category or composer. If a name needs to be entered, the software will also tolerate spelling mistakes. The driver is therefore able to devote their full attention to the traffic. As a further advantage, the occupants are able to search all the connected media and devices simultaneously.

The fast hard-disc navigation system of COMAND Online also has added functions. New features include a 3D map views. Also new: routes covered can be recorded and repeated later, specific personal destinations can be imported via an SD card and four alternative routes can be displayed on the navigation map, one of them an economical variation.

Photo: 2012 Mercedes-Benz C350 SedanPhoto: 2012 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sedan

Mercedes-Benz developed the “Logic7” surround sound system together with the audio specialist harman/kardon®. Based on technology never before seen in a car, this high-end system delivers three-dimensional sound as a natural 360 degree musical experience for all passengers. The audio signals are distributed via a 450 watt amplifier connected to twelve high-performance loudspeakers. In conjunction with COMAND Online a multi-channel listening experience with Dolby Digital 5.1. and DTS is possible.

Check out more new 2012 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sedan pictures in our 2012 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sedan photo gallery:

New 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sedan: C250 RWD, C300 4MATIC & C350 RWD specifications, review, photos and images courtesy of Mercedes-Benz.

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