New Car: 2012 Mercedes C-Class


As the cheapest and humblest car in Mercedes’ U.S. showrooms, where it lives next to larger, more-powerful, more-luxurious, and more-prestigious vehicles, the C-class has had a tough time establishing itself as a full-cachet, no-apologies Mercedes-Benz. But a window of opportunity seems to be opening for the C-class come the 2012 model year, with its mid-cycle update arriving just as world events and economic challenges have precipitated a shift among luxury buyers toward “right-sized” vehicles containing full-size luxury amenities.

It will certainly try to impress. The restyled 2012 C-class will greet customers with a more upscale face highlighted by a sculpted front fascia and new, CLS-style headlamps that blend into the fenders. Distinct Sport and Luxury trims continue for 2012, with the Sport model being differentiated by its grille and thin chrome spears in the outboard air intakes, which also house the LED running lights that are now standard on all C-class models. The brightwork continues along the doors and around the new rear bumper. The taillamps are also new for 2012, with more distinct detailing and still more LEDs.

The biggest news is a more powerful naturally aspirated engine in the top-shelf C350 Sport, plus the addition of a new base model, the C250, with a turbocharged four-cylinder under its hood. The C350 Sport’s V-6 is a new, direct-injection 3.5-liter, and its output is raised from the outgoing C350’s 268 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque to a healthy 302 hp and 273 lb-ft. The mid-grade C300 retains its 3.0-liter V-6 with 228 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque, but now is offered only with 4MATIC all-wheel drive (and will be the only C-class available thus equipped). At the low end of the range is that new C250, powered by a direct-injected, turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder that produces 201 hp and 229 lb-ft of torque. The C250 is slated to deliver among the highest fuel-economy of any Mercedes-Benz offered on these shores: an estimated 24 mpg combined. (For the record, the larger E350 BlueTec diesel is EPA-rated for 26 combined.) As for acceleration, Mercedes says the C250 should hit 60 mph in 7.1 seconds, a figure it also cites for the C300 4MATIC. The top-dog C350 is said to make the 0-to-60-mph sprint in 5.9.

Each of the three engines comes mated exclusively to a seven-speed automatic transmission, which means that you’ll no longer be able find a manual in the C-class when the 2012 model arrives next summer. (As if you could realistically find one in circulation before!) That means the current SLK300 will be the only U.S. Merc with a row-your-own option. As usual, auto-only also will apply to the 2012 C63 AMG, which also will be refreshed and goes on sale next summer or fall. It will retain the current 6.2-liter V-8, rather than moving to the twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V-8 like other AMGs.

Thanks to: Car and Driver

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