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2009 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

2009 Mercedes-Benz C-Class
Mercedes dynamics and comfort in a small package.

By G.R. Whale

Review Pages
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1. Overview
2. Walkaround and Interior
3. Driving Impressions
4. Summary, Prices, Specs

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Overview

The 2009 Mercedes-Benz C-Class brings multiple refinements. The 2009 C-Class is composed of the C300 Luxury, C300 Luxury 4MATIC, C300 Sport, C300 Sport 4MATIC, C350 Sport, and C63 AMG.

The C-Class was completely redesigned for 2008. For 2009, the infotainment systems have been updated with more capability and a Zagat restaurant guide, front-side pelvic airbags have been added to all but the C63, the C350 and C63 receive more standard features, and Comfort suspension has been added to Luxury models.

A C-Class can be set up as a more traditional Mercedes four-door in the Luxury grade, with or without all-wheel drive. Alternatively choose from four levels of sportier look and feel with a manual-transmission rear-drive Sport, all-wheel drive Sport, more-engine-more-brake C350 Sport, or the C63 AMG, a good substitute for a light aircraft across Europe.

You'll find everything you expect from Mercedes-Benz in a C-Class from safety features to predictable driving dynamics. And you'll find more room, especially in the rear seat, than in any previous C-Class since the 190 models evolved into the first-generation C-Class. It's rare when the same car finds favor with buyers in one country as a status symbol while in other countries the same car is a favorite of taxi drivers for its durability, driving ease and moderate operating costs.

While the styling was updated for 2008, it is the actual driving where equally noteworthy advances have been made. The C-Class has levels of driver feedback, the steering in particular, that it never had before; it has always been rock-solid and so stable it was hard to get in trouble, and it still is, but the driver now has far better grasp, literally and figuratively, on what the car is doing. And it does this without taking away any of the refinement or comfort that makes driving one a fatigue-free process.

The C-Class is not a big car; taller than average families or business-people that routinely transport clients may find they still need an E-Class. Among its primary competition that includes Audi's A4, BMW's 3-Series and Lexus IS-F the C-Class is competitive; rear-drive, manual-gearbox fans may also cross-shop the Infiniti G37.

There are six listed C-Class models, but you can simplify by thinking of two of them as merely all-wheel drive versions. All save the C300 Sport Sedan come with an automatic transmission and all-wheel drive is available on any 300 with an automatic.

Model Lineup

The 2009 Mercedes-Benz C300 comes as a Sport sedan ($32,900), Luxury sedan ($34,650), 4MATIC all-wheel drive Sport ($36,200) and 4MATIC Luxury ($36,450). All come with a 228-hp 3-liter V6. The C300 Sport comes with a six-speed manual gearbox, the others with a seven-speed automatic available on the Sport ($1460).

Sport sedans use a different grille with the Mercedes-Benz ringed star in it as opposed to the Luxury with the star on the hood, and Sport cars use AMG-style deeper front air dams, side skirts and rear aprons. All C300s come with 17-inch alloy wheels but Sport cars use wider rear tires and wheels, sit more than half an inch lower, use firmer suspension settings and get a three-spoke steering wheel.

The C300 Sport comes with dual-zone climate control, synthetic upholstery, tilt/telescoping multifunction wheel, power windows/locks/heated mirrors, moonroof, eight-way power sport seats, front and rear fog lamps, cruise control, trip computer/maintenance minder, AM/FM/Weather/CD audio system with aux input, Bluetooth, leather-wrapped wheel and shifter, alarm, central controller, five-inch flip-up color display, and aluminum trim.

Options on C300 Sport include metallic paint ($720), gray/black walnut trim ($310), leather upholstery ($1570), TeleAid ($650), 6CD changer ($460), iPod integration ($375), Panorama roof ($1050). Premium package 1 ($2150) includes Sirius, heated front seats, auto-dimming mirrors, UGDO, rain-sensing wipers, power tilt/telescope and driver memory system, Premium 2 ($3500) includes Premium 1 plus bi-Xenon headlamps with heated washers and cornering lights, split-fold 60/40 rear seat, power rear shade. The Multimedia package ($2980) includes COMAND navigation and seven-inch screen, 450-watt harman/kardon surround audio system, voice control, 6CD/MP3 changer.

C300 Sport 4MATIC adds all-wheel drive, automatic transmission and a heated washer reservoir. Options mirror the rear-drive Sport except for 18-inch wheels.

The Luxury C300 replaces the sport seats and aluminum trim with cushier seats and burl walnut trim; the 4MATIC adds the same pieces as the Sport 4MATIC. Options on both Luxury C300 match the Sport but 18-inch wheels aren't offered on the rear-drive 300 either.

The C350 ($39,000) adds a 268-hp higher-revving 3.5-liter V6, seven-speed auto and rear-drive only, plus agility control variable shock damping, sport suspension, bigger brakes, AMG-style wheels, everything in the Premium 1 package, heated front sport seats, and black Birdseye Maple wood trim (walnut at no charge if you prefer). Options include the P2 package ($1350), metallic paint, leather upholstery, TeleAid, 6CD changer, iPod integration, Panorama roof, Multimedia package and 18-inch wheels with wider rear tires than C300 Sports.

The C63 AMG ($56,300 plus required $2100 federal gas-guzzler tax) comes with a 6.2-liter 451-hp V8, AMG Speedshift seven-speed transmission, 18-inch wheels and high-performance tires, and unique brakes, suspension, steering, sport seats with adjustable side bolsters, AMG instrumentation and aluminum shift paddles behind the sport steering wheel. Cosmetically and mechanically it is a different car from the windshield forward. The C63 standard feature list is close to the C350 Sport sedan. Options include metallic paint ($720), premium leather ($2980), P2 ($1100), Multimedia ($2980), iPod, carbon fiber trim ($2500) and the Performance P30 package ($3990) locking differential, composite brakes, leather/Alcantara steering wheel, 186-mph limiter.

Safety equipment includes dual adaptive frontal airbags, front side thorax airbags, front side pelvic airbags (except on C63), side curtain airbags, active front head restraints, PreSafe system, electronic stability control and full traction and brake electronic assists. There are no optional safety systems.


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