|2010 Mercedes C350
|2010 Mercedes C350
Sport Sedan Specs
By Michael Leroy
- Quiet and comfortable on the freeway
- Standard “Sports Grille” looks great
- Good gas mileage
- Awkward iPod integration
- Need to buy several options to fix flaws
- Slightly numb steering
As the middle child in the C-Class model line, the C350 fills the niche between the base model C300 and the mighty C63 AMG. Like any middle child, it’s easy for the C350 to be overlooked between its thrifty, cheaper sibling and its steroid-using big brother. Sibling rivalry aside, the C350 manages to stand out as a compelling option in the C-class lineup.
All C350′s come standard with the “Sports Grille,” which looks significantly better than the standard C-class front end. A sporty front end really helps give the C350 a more modern look. The 2010 model makes previous generation C350′s look ancient. Optional 18-inch AMG wheels were included with the model we tested and they enhanced the sporty look of the car. Mercedes-Benz calls the C350 a sports sedan and it looks every bit the part.
The interior matches the great exterior, but has a few quirks. High-quality materials are used throughout the great looking interior. Loose feeling HVAC knobs was the only flaw in a cabin filled with solid feeling controls. The model we tested did not have navigation, but still had a small color LCD screen for the radio. An easy to read speedometer features a monochrome LCD screen that displays gas mileage and other driver information.
iPod integration was included in the C350 we tested, but it’s poorly executed. On the standard C350 the iPod music information is not displayed on color LCD display, but on the monochrome display built into the speedometer. iPod addicts should opt for the COMAND or Multimedia Package. Both options will display iPod track information on a 7-inch display. One ding against the Multimedia package is its laughable 6GB storage space for music. For $2,650 it would be nice if it had more storage space than a $25 dollar mp3 player. 64GB of high-speed solid state memory is priced well under $200 dollars these days and there is no excuse for such a small amount of included storage space.
The C350′s 3.5-liter V-6 puts out a respectable 268 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. The engine is docile and quiet when cruising around town, but when you drop the hammer the engine has a masculine growl and plenty of freeway passing power. Gas mileage during our test was a respectable 24 MPG.
What reins in the fun is the slow shifting 7-speed automatic transmission. There is a noticeable lag waiting for the transmission to downshift. Other than the slow downshifting, the 7-speed is smooth and features a comfort and sport setting.
Mercedes-Benz for some bizarre reason has decided to not include a manual option for the C350. This is a huge disappointment and an odd choice for a model Mercedes calls a “sports sedan.” Drivers looking for a C-class with a manual are rare, but they will have a difficult decision to make. The price jump between the manual C300 and “SpeedShift plus” 7-speed equipped C63 AMG is huge. Why can’t the middle model have a manual?
C-Class Sport sedans have firmer coil springs and shock absorbers than the C300 and it shows. The C350′s stiffer suspension is apparent on freeways that are less than perfect. The ride can be slightly bumpy on bad roads. On the upside there is not much body roll and on decent roads the C350 is smooth as glass. Despite the stiffer ride, potholes are absorbed with grace.
Steering is well balanced, but slightly numb. The well isolated cabin does not transmit a lot of feedback to the driver. Further compounding the handling is the car beings to feel heavy when pushed in corners. Despite this, the Merc is composed and predictable in the corners.
Many of the vehicles handling problems may possibly be fixed with the $1,500 Dynamic Handling Package. The C350 we tested did not have the package, but it adds speed-sensitive steering and driver-adjustable suspension. The speed-sensitive steering will likely improve the numb steering and the adjustable suspension would be a godsend on bumpy roads. The handling package includes the $1,020 18-inch wheels AMG wheels so it’s a no-brainer to choose the package if you are considering getting the AMG wheels.
Braking is excellent, but the pedal is a little on the soft side. Even with the soft pedal, the brakes are easy to modulate. In addition to standard ABS, the C350 features Brake Assist. The feature will apply full braking power when the pedal is quickly applied. Mercedes-Benz claims that many drivers during an emergency stop do not apply the brakes hard enough during an emergency stop. This feature is designed to counteract this and allow the car to come to a safe stop.
There is plenty of head and leg room in the C350 and it’s a perfect match for taller drivers. Passenger room in the back seats is adequate, but could be better. Both front and back seats are comfortable and unlike German cars in the past, there are plenty cup holders fore and aft.
The middle child C350 is a solid luxury car that looks and drives great. The small complaints we had could likely be corrected by choosing the right options when buying. The C350 is a good choice for potential C-class buyers looking for a little more power, but do not want the sporty all-out C63 AMG.
|Official website for Mercedes-Benz cars, hybrids, and SUVs – www.mbusa.com|