From £15,285
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.


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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


17 March 2011

You've got to love a 3.5 V6 auto that can (maybe) do 41mpg without the din of diesel!

Not sure what's going on with the headlights on the facelift mind.

18 March 2011

41 mpg ! thats wat u call impressive ,god knows how close the real life driving consumption figures would be . [quote Oilburner] Not sure what's going on with the headlights on the facelift mind. [/quote] X2

18 March 2011

I think the new headlights look a lot better - never did like the Mercedes headlights with the droopy eyelids effect from placing the indicators above the headlights. It looks wide awake now.

It seems to be a much more mature car now, with good performance, yet having the ability to give a decent ride while dealing with our pockmarked cart tracks that pass for B-roads.

18 March 2011

Mercedes certainly to have regained the air of maturity they had circa 190E / original E class times and the cars are all the better for it.

Much better than the days when they were chasing both BMW and volume at the expense of their core values.

18 March 2011

[quote TegTypeR]Much better than the days when they were chasing both BMW and volume at the expense of their core values.[/quote]

Seems like it's BMW sacrificing its core values to chase Merc instead nowadays.

18 March 2011

[quote Autocar]but fuel economy has been reduced by a remarkable 31 percent.[/quote] Wow, it still does 41 MPG when they've reduced economy... it must have been really frugal before. Has the typo struck again?

18 March 2011

[quote]Compared to the outgoing unit, not only is the output up by 34bhp, but fuel economy has been reduced by a remarkable 31 percent. [/quote] Now unless i'm reading that wrong.... reducing the fuel economy is not a good thing is it?

18 March 2011

I am amazed Autocar have taken this long to pick up on this incredible engine. It has been available in the S350 for over 6 months. In the S350, it gives 37mpg (diesel 41) and has a CO2 rating of 177 g/km (the same as the diesel!). Given that diesel is generally more expensive to buy, why would you want the tractor option?!

18 March 2011

I know there wouldnt be enough demand for it, but i would love to try one of these with a manual box. The potential of 40 mpg or decent performance is fantastic.

Shame the market will still mainly choose diesels. This does show the larger petrol engine still has life left in it.

18 March 2011

Petrol +1


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