To produce the most useful review, the experts at TheCarConnection.com collected comments and insight from some of the top review resources on the Web regarding the 2008 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Then TheCarConnection.com’s editors added their own perspectives from firsthand driving experience with the C-Class.
The compact C-Class is the least-expensive model-and the smallest sedan-in Mercedes-Benz's U.S. lineup, and it's been completely redesigned for the 2008 model year. Most notably, the new 2008 Mercedes-Benz C-Class sets two distinct styles, with separate Luxury and Sport models that cater to different types of C-Class buyers.
The two models can be distinguished from afar, from the front especially, due to their very different front-end treatments. The Luxury follows tradition with the familiar chrome grille and three-pointed-star hood ornament; the Sport takes a new tack, with no hood ornament but rather a body-color, straked grille, and a large emblem in the middle of the grille. Inside, the two models have different trim (chrome and burl walnut wood for the Luxury, matte-aluminum or maple wood on the Sport), although the plastics used in the base Sport look somewhat drab. The Sport also gets a lowered, sport-tuned suspension, larger wheels, a sport braking system, and dual exhaust.
Two different V-6 engines are offered on the C-Class line-with model designations made accordingly. The C300 comes with a 228-horsepower, 3.0-liter V-6, while the C350 gets a 268-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6. The C300 has a standard six-speed manual or optional seven-speed automatic, but the C350 can only be had with the automatic. The C300 models are available with 4Matic all-wheel drive, a full-time system that reverts to sending 55 percent of power to the rear wheels when more isn't needed at a particular wheel.
At the top of the range is the exclusive C63 AMG (covered separately by TheCarConnection.com), which adds a 451-horsepower, 6.3-liter V-8 engine along with loads of performance equipment, including a sport suspension, Z-rated performance tires, bigger brakes, a sport exhaust, special AMG heated sport seats, a race timer, and plenty of additional appearance upgrades.
The two V-6 engines aren't that different from each other in normal driving, but the additional performance of the C350 is only noticeably during full-throttle acceleration or the most demanding mountain roads. The seven-speed automatic shifts smoothly, whether using the manual mode or not, and it downshifts quickly and decisively when needed.
The C-Class has a very well-controlled ride and stays flat in corners, with much crisper steering response than the former C-Class sedans-thanks in part to a quicker steering ratio. The steering isn't quite as direct in feel, though. A new so-called Agility Control suspension helps by mechanically adjusting damper settings to reduce body motion during spirited driving and sudden maneuvers, without a sacrifice in ride comfort.
Of the two models, the Sport allows better handling without any significant decrease in ride quality. In both models, the C-Class cabin stays quiet, with good isolation from the road, although you hear the engine when accelerating.