2013 Mercedes-Benz C-Class C63 AMG - FROM $59,800
Reinvented and refined over the last few years, the well-rounded Mercedes-Benz C-Class stands as one of the best picks in the highly competitive compact luxury sport sedan/coupe segment.
What's New for 2013
For 2013, the C-Class sees a number of changes that include a larger (3.5-liter) V6 for the C300 4Matic that delivers better performance and fuel economy than the former 3.0-liter V6. The C-Class also gains a fuel-saving automatic engine stop-start feature (C300 4Matic and C350), available adaptive cruise control, standard mbrace2 smartphone-integrated telematics and a newly available Sport Plus package.
Invariably, competitors to BMW's 3 Series boast about their sporty personalities and perhaps about their ability to blast around the Nürburgring in Germany. Well, in the real world, few U.S. luxury sport sedan (or coupe) buyers will ever drive on a racetrack, let alone one widely considered to be the toughest on the planet. Although the 2013 Mercedes-Benz C-Class goes tire-to-tire against its countryman rival and has no trouble swiftly dispatching a curvy road, it has a very appealing personality that transcends performance stats.
Though it's the company's entry-level model, the 2013 C-Class is very much a Mercedes-Benz. That means it offers that feeling of quality and solidity throughout that define the marque, not to mention a ride and handling balance that should strike most folks as just right. Whether you choose the sedan or coupe, the C-Class boasts chiseled good looks outside along with high-quality materials, comfy seats and sensible ergonomics within. Under the hood you can have anything from a peppy yet frugal turbocharged four to a rip-snorting V8 with nearly 500 horsepower. And for those who live in the snowy states, there's even a model with all-wheel drive.
There's no doubt that the 2013 Mercedes-Benz C-Class offers a smorgasbord of tempting flavors in the compact luxury sport segment. Still, the latter boasts plenty of great choices including the Audi A4, the aforementioned 2013 BMW 3 Series, the new 2013 Cadillac ATS, the 2013 Infiniti G and Volvo's S60. We have no problem recommending any of them and would strongly suggest back-to-back test-drives. But for overall excellence and luxury-car prestige, it's very hard to do better than the Mercedes C-Class.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is available in sedan and coupe body styles, both of which are available in C250, C350 and C63 AMG trim levels. All-wheel-drive versions are also available in the form of the C300 4Matic sedan and C350 4Matic coupe.
The C250 and C300 4Matic trims come standard with 17-inch wheels, automatic headlights, LED running lights, automatic wipers, a sunroof, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, eight-way power front seats (with adjustable lumbar), MB-Tex vinyl upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and auto-dimming mirrors. Electronic features include a 5.8-inch central display, the COMAND interface, mbrace2 telematics/smartphone integration, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, and a sound system with a CD player, auxiliary audio jack, a USB audio jack and HD radio. The C300 4Matic adds all-wheel drive and a V6 engine.
In sedan form, the C250 and C300 4Matic are further split into Luxury and Sport sub-trims. These differ in wheel design, suspension tuning and minor interior/exterior styling details (such as different grille and steering wheel designs). The C300 4Matic Luxury also includes a comfort-tuned suspension. The Premium 1 package adds four-way adjustable lumbar support for the front seats, heated front seats, driver memory functions, a power-adjustable steering wheel, split-folding rear seats and a Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system with satellite radio and an iPod interface (optional separately as well).
In coupe form, the C250 gets a panoramic sunroof, split-folding rear seats, additional driver seat adjustments, driver memory functions and a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. The coupe's Premium 1 package adds the heated seats and the Harman Kardon system with satellite radio and an iPod interface.
The C350 sedan comes only in Sport guise, with a bigger V6 engine and the Premium 1 package standard; the C350 coupe adds a panoramic sunroof. The C63 AMG is equipped similarly in terms of comfort and convenience features, but gets 18-inch wheels, high-performance tires, an adaptive sport-tuned suspension, upgraded brakes, sport seats, more aggressive styling and different interior trim.
There are a multitude of options available. The Sport package adds 18-inch AMG wheels, a rear spoiler, black upholstery with red accent stitching, sport seats and steering wheel, shift paddles, aluminum trim, red seatbelts and black floor mats with red leather piping. For the C250 coupe, there is the Sport Package Plus, which includes all that plus an AMG sport suspension, upgraded brakes, quicker steering, sport exhaust and a sport mode for the transmission with rev-matching.
The Multimedia package adds a larger 7-inch central infotainment screen, a rearview camera, a navigation system and a six-disc CD changer. The Lighting package adds adaptive bi-xenon headlights with washers and automatic high beams. The Lane Tracking package adds a blind-spot warning system and a lane-departure warning system. The Driver Assistance package also includes lane departure, plus adaptive cruise control and
PreSafe brake (active braking system that can automatically apply the brakes if a collision is deemed imminent and the driver doesn't heed the visual/audible warnings).
All but the C63 can be equipped with the Full Leather Seating package, which includes extended leather trim, additional passenger seat adjustments and passenger seat memory functions. The C63 can be equipped with the AMG Development package, which adds 30 extra horsepower, a higher top speed, red brake calipers and a carbon-fiber trunk lid spoiler. A limited-slip differential is offered.
Stand-alone options include a rearview camera, a panoramic sunroof (on the sedan), a power rear sunshade, keyless ignition/entry and the Parktronic advanced parking sensor system.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2013 Mercedes-Benz C250 is powered by a turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder that produces 201 hp and 229 pound-feet of torque. Rear-wheel drive and a seven-speed automatic are standard. In Edmunds performance testing, a C250 Sport sedan went from zero to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds -- about a second slower than the Audi A4 2.0T and about 1.5 ticks slower than the 328i. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 22 mpg city/31 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined, which is very good for the segment.
The all-wheel-drive C300 4Matic is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 248 hp and 251 lb-ft of torque. According to Mercedes, it can sprint to 60 mph in just 6.0 seconds. Fuel economy estimates are also impressive at 20/28/23.
Under the hood of the C350 is a 3.5-liter V6 good for 302 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive comes with the C350 4Matic coupe. In Edmunds testing, it went from zero to 60 in 5.6 seconds -- a number on par with the quicker members of its class. Fuel economy is an excellent 20/29/23 for the sedan and 19/27/22 for the 4Matic coupe.
With the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG, you get a 6.2-liter V8 that cranks out 451 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque; add the AMG Development package and horsepower gets bumped up to 481. A seven-speed automated manual transmission is standard. In Edmunds performance testing, a C63 Coupe with the AMG Development package went from zero to 60 mph in a very impressive 4.2 seconds. Fuel economy is 13/19/15.
Every 2013 Mercedes-Benz C-Class comes standard with stability and traction control, antilock brakes, a driver knee airbag, front side thorax airbags, front side pelvic airbags and full-length curtain airbags. Also standard is Mercedes-Benz mbrace2 emergency telematics as well as Mercedes Attention Assist, which monitors the driver for signs of drowsiness and inattention. Rear side thorax airbags are standard on the coupe and optional on the sedan. Other safety-oriented options include the Lane Tracking package, which adds a blind-spot warning system and a lane-departure warning system.
In Edmunds brake testing, a C350 Sport came to a stop from 60 mph in 108 feet. The C250 Sport and C63 came within 5 feet of matching that outstanding distance.
In government crash testing, the most recent C-Class sedan tested (from 2011) received an overall crash rating of four out of five stars, with three stars overall in a frontal crash (four stars driver, two stars front passenger) and five stars overall in a side crash. In testing performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the C-Class sedan earned a top rating of "Good" for frontal-offset, side impact and roof-strength tests. It also received the worst rating of "Poor" in the Institute's new small overlap front crash test, but few cars have been subjected to this test, and a majority received similarly poor ratings.
Interior Design and Special Features
Just tugging on the C-Class's door handle makes you feel as if you've cracked open an impenetrable vault. This model's interior is well crafted, and boasts precise switchgear and an eye-pleasing design. The controls are straightforward, and Mercedes' COMAND electronics interface is our favorite from a luxury automaker, as it's the easiest to use. The iPod interface is particularly user-friendly and quick to respond.
Though the sedan is bigger than previous C-Class editions, it's hardly the best choice for growing families. Some might find a child seat difficult to install in the narrow, bucketlike backseat positions, and the 12.4-cubic-foot trunk is on the small side.
As for the coupe, it shouldn't come as a surprise that its backseat is quite cramped. Legroom is about par for the segment (squished), while headroom is nonexistent for those taller than about 5-foot-8. In total, the C-Class coupe is less accommodating than the 3 Series coupe, no worse than an A5 and better than a Cadillac CTS coupe. Its trunk volume of 11.7 cubic feet is average for the small luxury coupe class.
Regardless of whether you opt for the 2013 C250, C300 or C350, Mercedes' entry-level luxury car boasts precise steering and handling, as well as overall driving dynamics that are comparable to other sedans and coupes in the segment. Despite their more sporting character, the Sport variants offer a firm but still perfectly damped ride and the ability to tackle long road trips with ease. The Luxury variants ride a little softer and have a quieter exhaust system, resulting in a more serene driving environment.
Though the C250's four-cylinder isn't as potent as the turbocharged fours in the Audi A4/A5 or BMW 328i sedan, it is a quiet and refined power plant that proves there's no shame at all in opting for the base model C-Class.
The C300 4Matic offers a truly impressive combination of performance and economy, besting the outgoing 3.0-liter V6 in both categories, and of course also provides all-wheel-drive traction for those who live in inclement areas. The C350 is a good choice for enthusiasts, given its sharply responsive V6 and rear-wheel-drive handling dynamics.
Then there's the C63 AMG. Packing a ferocious V8 that matches the mighty Cadillac CTS-V's performance in a straight line, the C63 is the German version of a muscle car. While not quite as engaging or agile as the BMW M3, the C63 responds to driver inputs with added sharpness and a degree of communication few Mercedes-Benz models have ever offered.