It’s polished, mature and a distinctly satisfying recipe

What is it?

Thirty years and 8.5 million sales since the launch of the 190E, Mercedes’ compact rear-drive executive machine is now the company’s best-selling model.

And four years after the current model went on sale, Mercedes has executed what it calls its most extensive facelift which sees the C-class benefitting from 2000 new components including an aluminium bonnet and wings and part-aluminium doors.

This C 350 is the range-topping petrol machine until the full-on AMG version is launched. The mid-rank Elegance trim gets 17in, 9-spoke, alloys, chrome trim and daylight running lights and fogs on top of the SE’s ‘Agility Control’ suspension, climate control, cruise, leather wheel, colour screen, ‘Attention Assist’ and pedestrian-protecting, pop-up bonnet.

What’s it like?

Although the exterior and interior have had a very smart brush-up, the big news with this model is the new, direct-injection, V6 engine. Compared to the outgoing unit, not only is the output up by 34bhp, but fuel economy has been improved by a remarkable 31 percent. The new engine drives an updated version of Merc’s seven-speed autobox.

Despite the brisk performance, this is not a hot-shoe saloon. Driven at pace on the demanding hairpins of Tenerife, the C 350 demonstrated a remarkable calm and sophistication.

Even on exceptionally steep and narrow mountain roads, it was incredibly easy to place the inside from wheel on the edge of the road. While the steering’s combination of weight and slight slowness makes for a very sure-footed and stable progress, but it also, perversely, makes driving the car quickly easier.

The C 350 seemed to deliver a degree of ‘thinking’ time for the driver, making it easy to adjust, for example, to an unexpected tightening on a long switchback bend. The C 350 also seems to benefit from very high levels of mechanical grip, Even on very poor roads and in very poor conditions it never felt as if it would suddenly let go.

Other pluses include the beautifully made cabin and really excellent, easily modulated, brakes. The only real downside was a hesitation in the autobox as the driver came back hard on the power from a trailing throttle. Not many people will buy the V6 petrol motor, but it has a distinct refinement advantage over the, admittedly, punchy four-cylinder engines.

Should I buy one?

Overall, this is a very compelling machine. It’s polished, mature, refined, very nicely made and impressive over the long distance. The compact, large-engined, executive car is an established formula, but Mercedes has really nailed its own distinctly satisfying recipe.

Mercedes-Benz C 350 BlueEfficiencey Elegance

Price: tba/merc, Top speed 155mph (limited), 0-62mph 6.0sec, Economy 41mpg combined, Co2 159g/km, Kerbweight 1610kg, Engine type: V6, 3498cc, petrol, Power: 302bhp at 6500rpm, Torque: 273lb ft at 3500-5250rpm, Gearbox: 7-spd auto.

Join the debate

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alexR1 14 February 2013

Mercedes C350 Petrol

I have always liked multi-cyclinder petrol engines but the eco-warriors seem to have forced manufacturers into making smaller 4 cyclinder engines.

Back in 2010, I therefore thought I'd try the Mercedes C350CDi.What a mistake. The engine was a Blue Efficiency version that had truly terrible refinement - emitting an awful, strained noise plus what sounded like "pinking" a lot of the time (know that;s impossible with a diesel - but that is what it sounded like at low revs). Never liked the car particularly when the DPF used to clog up and send the car into limp-home mode!

Finally got rid of it but buying myself out of the lease and replaced it with a 2012 facelift C350 Sport petrol i.e with the great new 306bhp engine. What a difference this fantastic engine makes. The C-Class diesel was my first Mercedes (owned all manner of BMWs / Volvo T5s / Saabs / Mazda RX8 etc) and thought little of it. I now absolutely LOVE the C-Class with the V6 petrol engine. It's wail at high revs is great and, believe it or not, I am getting 35mpg on a motorway run crusing at around 90mph. I only used to get 38mpg from the awful old diesel! The road tax is also so cheap - my mother's Renault Clio 1.6 automatic is more expensive!

Brialliant job Mercedes - such a shame so few people buy your big petrol engines!


eseaton 21 March 2011

Re: Mercedes-Benz C350 Elegance

I do enjoy a good diesel/petrol debate. Torque and economy are of course the twin appeals of diesel, although the torque is substantially wasted in the far longer gear ratios needed in low reving diesels. And from the outside when cold, every single one of them sounds like a tractor. They just do. I think really some types of vehicle only suit diesel eg 4*4's, others only suit petrol eg the so called supercars. Most of the rest eg this car can work well with both, although most manufacturers have largely neglected the mid size petrol engine for many years. So it is good to see a manufacturer like Mercedes making a very impressive petrol engine that is neither tiny or exotic. I can't quickly think of an engine that is as statistically more impressive than its predecessor as this one. PS I own and enjoy both types of engine.

Another traveller 19 March 2011

Re: Mercedes-Benz C350 Elegance

Maxycat wrote:
eseaton wrote:
Given that diesel is generally more expensive to buy, why would you want the tractor option?!
I can think of 180 reasons that people will prefer the diesel S350 over the petrol version. 180 is the number of lbs/ft extra torque it has over the petrol vesion.

It should also be easier to achieve good real life economy: I figure that keeping the consumption low will require a lot more effort in the petrol version.