Mercedes C350 Sport Review | The Truth About Cars | Catalog-cars

Mercedes C350 Sport Review | The Truth About Cars

21 Feb 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Mercedes C350 Sport Review | The Truth About Cars
Mercedes C 350

Mercedes C350 Sport Review

The previous gen C-Class was not Mercedes’ finest hour. Chief amongst its non-virtues: base engines that offered little in the way of functional power, refinement, fuel efficiency or brand faithful character (e.g. the 1.8-liter blown four). The fourth gen C300 (W204) put paid to that#8211; and how. In fact, the new C may have finally have broken the bigger-is-always-better mold that the German carmaker has deployed to lure Benz buyers up the ownership ladder.

Ah, but does that mean that the new, more highly-horsed C350 is so superior to the C300 as to steal stars#8211; and sales#8211; from its cheaper stablemate?

The C300 Sport and C350 Sport are sheetmetal doppelgangers. From their AMG-designed grill#8211; whose oversized three-pointed star seems specifically designed for fans of Mr. T#8211; to their tightly tailored tushes, there’s nothing save rim design between them. For C300 Sport buyers, that’s no bad thing. In all its iterations, the new C is a profoundly attractive car; it’s perfect in proportion and elegant in effect.

For owners of the more expensive car, well, price confers no honors.

Inside, same deal. Although we understand why Mercedes reserves its engine-size-related interior mods to their AMG variants (money), how much would it cost to give a C350 driver some indication that he’s got a hotter shoe than a C300 Sport driver? Anyway, the basics are [still] brilliant. The cabin is well assembled. The solid feel of the door and dash switchgear imparts the old-school Mercedes Benz attitude.

It’s stoic, it’s stolid, it’s German, and it’s going to look the same when it’s thirty years old.

In my test car, it was all about the black, with predictably monotonous results. The brushed aluminum trim adorning the gear lever provides the only aesthetic relief from the Goth gestalt. One detail from the C350’s interior merits special attention: the tilt and telescope steering wheel.

While many people will consider its manual operation a bit cheap at this price point, it’s a hopeful sign that the C-Class may be built (however inadvertently) for longevity.

Obviously, the engine underhood is the principal difference between the C300 and C350. Whereas the C300 has a 3.0-liter V6 making 228 horsepower, the C350’s [unchanged for ‘08] 3.5-liter six pot brings 268 horses and 258 ft.-lbs to the party. Accelerating from rest to sixty mph takes only a shade over six seconds; that’s a full second faster than the not-entirely-slow C300 Sport.

As you’d hope.

Even better, C350 offers aural pleasures you’d never, ever expect in anything other than an AMG-fettled Merc. Once the V6 winds to the sweet spot, around 3000 rpm, the damn thing begins to growl. And it’s not the usual Mercedes “wall of sound” aggression, where you’d swear you were piloting an industrial strength vacuum cleaner. It’s a genuine gathering of sonic fury.

And yet the C350’s engine’s smoother than the Pickup Artist and at least as refined as Nissan’s lauded VQ engines.

Mercedes C 350

The new C350’s suspension remains more or less unchanged. In this case, less is more. Riding on firmer bushings, new subframes, revised geometry and a slightly lowered chassis, the C350 is a capable corner carver.

Body lean is perfectly controlled, and the chassis responds instantly (if excessively) to inputs from the new, more tactile power-assisted tiller.

While a determined C350 driver could give a BMW 328i pilot a genuine run for the money down a twisting road, the C ain’t no 3. Like the interior, the C350 goes about the business of changing direction in a dour, cheerless sort of way. It’s as safe as houses [used to be], with easy-to-find limits and completely predictable responses at all times. But it’s just not what I’d call fun.

Compared to its real competition#8211; the C300#8211; the C350 asks you to give up a great deal for those 40 extra ponies and suspension tweaks. For starters, there’s the small matter (to some) of $5300. You also have to surrender the possibility of all-wheel drive and “Luxury” trim.

Worst of all, the six-speed manual transmission is only available on the lower-priced C300 and its Sport derivative. Even if you forgive this omission, the C350’s seven-speed autobox is dim-witted when you need it most: downshifting for power. For a sports-minded vehicle, that’s an unforgivable sin.

In sum, it’s hard to understand why a “real” enthusiast would choose the Mercedes C350 Sport over a more genuinely sporting alternative (or the monster C63 AMG version). It’s also hard to fathom the C350 Sport#39;s advantages over a C300. The “entry level” C-Class is a back-to-basics car that does what you want a Mercedes to do#8211; better than the C350 does what you wish it could do.

In that sense, the C350 reverses the curse, and puts sensible Mercedes owners in a happier place than those who continue to believe that bigger is always better.

Mercedes C 350
Mercedes C 350
Mercedes C 350
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