The fourth-generation, 2008 Mercedes-Benz C-Class looks sporty, with all-new styling.
The new C-Class is wider and longer than the outgoing model, a tauter, sportier design, addressing complaints that it was just too small for many Americans. With an overall length of 180.4 inches, the sedan is more almost four inches longer than its predecessor. Body width has increased more than an inch and a half to 69.7 inches, overall height increased almost one and a half inches, and the wheelbase has increased 1.8 inches to 108.4 inches.
Two completely fresh grilles are used, one for the Luxury model with the traditional horizontal bars and hood-mounted star, one for the Sport version with a large, surrounded star in the grille. The Sport will have six- or seven-spoke alloy wheels and staggered tires (the rears larger than the fronts), and will carry a decklid spoiler. The Luxury version will have the same size tires all around, riding on five-spoke alloy wheels.
The bold new front ends are amplified by a striking, rising line in the bodyside sheetmetal from front to back, flowing directly into a set of new and more aerodynamic taillamps. Even in this larger size, the drag coefficient of the new C-Class is a mere 0.27, among the best in the world.
Improved safety comes via the new bodyshell, 70 percent of which is high-strength and ultra high-strength steel. Compared to the previous series, Mercedes-Benz has larger deformation zones and improved energy flows. The front-end structure of the new C-Class has four independently acting impact zones, which enable forces to be distributed over a wide area around the passenger cell. The hood, fenders, and decklid are aluminum.
According to Mercedes-Benz, the static weight balance of the new C-Class is 52 percent front and 48 percent rear, awfully close to the magic 50/50 spread. The body is 13 percent stiffer in torsion and 12 percent stiffer in bending than the old car, and the chassis features a new rear axle and suspension design.
The 2008 C-Class is the first car in history to be designed, engineered, developed, and tested on Mercedes-Benz's proprietary virtual and digital design and engineering system. That includes every single part, component, and system in the car as well as the interior and exterior design, the complete powertrain, and the chassis. The time saved in development on the computer was devoted to additional real-world testing, to the tune of 24 million kilometers, three times more than the previous model had accumulated. So these cars should be fully sorted.
The interiors of the '08 C-Class are all-new as well. Front shoulder room has increased by 1.6 inches. Trunk space has grown by a cubic foot.
For 2008, the Mercedes C300 and C350 come with a revised instrument package design, a new steering wheel with two sets of auxiliary controls on the horizontal spokes, and a new center stack that includes a pop-up five-inch screen on the dashtop that displays all the necessary vehicle, navigation and entertainment system data.
The Sport version has a three-spoke steering wheel, aluminum metallic trim panels, aluminum floor pedals with black rubber studs, and black birdseye maple trim with special stitching on the upholstery, while the Luxury version has a four-spoke steering wheel, traditional burl walnut interior trim and more traditional interior colors.
The cabin of the C350 Sport is more elaborate than before, with a new standard power sunroof and standard power eight-way driver and passenger seats, with a power lumbar support on the driver's seat. The door panels have more brightwork, and it is tasty.
A console-mounted push-and-twist wheel controls all of the display functions for navigation, entertainment, climate and communications. The dual-zone climate control is located at the bottom center of the dash, easy to read, understand and use. Whether the three-spoke or four-spoke steering wheel, both have a new layout, with two large multi-function controllers and two smaller buttons to control 12 different functions. The instrument pod itself, newly dressed up in aluminum trim with a white-on-black color scheme, houses a 4.5-inch information display inside the speedometer that can be changed at the touch of a button.
The center stack features a hooded, retractable five-inch color display at the top center as the main display unit for the Comand system, big enough to see and shaded from the sun's rays. Other electronic features include a standard eight-speaker sound system with six-CD and MP3 player, a standard auxiliary plug-in spot for your iPod, and standard Bluetooth connectivity for your cell phone.
The Harman Kardon digital 5.1 surround sound system that came in our C350 Sport featured 450 watts of power and 12 speakers, and it was nothing short of fantastic in reproducing the familiar sounds we brought along on our iPod, with automatic volume control and excellent imaging.