A small A-Class model is slated to arrive for the 2014 model year, but until then, the 2013 Mercedes-Benz C-Class will continue to serve as the brand's entry-level offering. Built to compete with rivals such as the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4, the C-Class avails buyers of a choice of body styles and powertrains, and abundant technology.
For 2013, the C-Class lineup boasts new and revised option packages, a new 3.5-liter V-6 engine for the C300 4Matic Sedan, and an efficiency-minded start/stop feature.
Starting off the 2013 C-Class lineup is the C250 Coupe, a model that Mercedes-Benz has equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels, rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights, power-adjustable outside mirrors with driver's side auto dimming, and a power tilt/slide moonroof.
Unlike the Coupe, the 2013 Mercedes-Benz C250 Sedan has Sport and Luxury variants, the former distinguished by its lower body kit, 5-spoke 17-inch alloy wheels, mesh air dam insert, sport-tuned suspension, and grille-mounted 3-pointed Mercedes emblem. In contrast, the C250 Luxury Sedan puts the emblem above the grille, loses the extra body work for a more refined appearance, rides on a comfort-tuned suspension, and is fitted with brighter 17-inch alloy wheels. The C300 4Matic Sedan, also offered in Sport and Luxury versions, matches the C250 Sedan, but behind the scenes hides a more powerful V-6 engine, standard AWD system, and a heated windshield washer reservoir.
C350 Coupe and C350 Sport Sedan (a C350 Luxury Sedan is not offered) models also feature a lower body kit, as well as dual chrome exhaust tips and 17-inch AMG-styled alloy wheels.
Rounding out the lineup are the 2013 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe and Sedan. As expected, these variants deliver the sportiest appearance of the C-Class bunch with a more aggressively sculpted hood, front splitter, rear diffuser, 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped in high-performance tires, and large oval exhaust tips.
The base 2013 Mercedes-Benz C250 Coupe is equipped with dual-zone climate control, power front sport seats with memory and 14-way adjustment for the driver, leather-wrapped power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, aluminum trim, and Bluetooth connectivity. A standard 8-speaker sound system offers HD Radio service and a USB port. And, like other luxury models, the C250 Coupe includes a central-command dial that can be used to control primary audio and air conditioning functions, among others. Though similar to the C250 Coupe, the 2013 Mercedes-Benz C250 Sedan comes standard with an efficient engine start/stop feature, and the C250 Luxury Sedan includes genuine wood grain trim. These features are carried over to the C300 4Matic Sedans.
In addition to those amenities, the C350 Coupe connects buyers to a 12-speaker premium sound system with satellite radio service, heated front seats, burl walnut trim, and memory settings for three drivers. The C350 sticks with the standard 8-speaker stereo but adds black ash wood trim.
The 2013 C63 AMG Coupe is accented by a unique steering wheel and gauge cluster, as well as doorsill plates, AMG floor mats, and intelligent cruise control with forward-collision warning.
Most of the 2013 Mercedes-Benz C-Class models are available with the same factory options, though the specifics differ. A Premium package, for example, upgrades the C250 Coupe with heated front seats and the 12-speaker audio system with satellite radio, whereas the C250 Sedan's Premium package tacks on split-folding rear seats and driver memory settings. All models, including the C63 AMG, can be fitted with a Lighting package that offers adaptive HID headlights and headlight washers, as well as a Lane Tracking package featuring blind-spot monitoring and lane-departure warning systems. Buyers who select the Multimedia package get a navigation system connected to a 7-inch LCD screen, real-time traffic and weather information, SD memory card slot, 10 GB of hard drive space for music storage, and a rearview camera.
An AMG Development package is offered only on the C63 AMG models, and boasts lightweight pistons and connecting rods, more capable brake discs and calipers, a sport steering wheel with Alcantara trim, carbon fiber rear spoiler, and a revised engine control unit (ECU).
Depending on which trim level is chosen, the 2013 C-Class can be further upgraded with extras such as leather upholstery, park-assist sensors, dynamic handling package, red seat belts, and contrast stitching on the upholstery.
Under the Hood
Mercedes equips the C250 Coupe and Sedan models with a direct-injection, turbocharged, 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine that generates 201 horsepower and 229 lb.-ft. of torque, all of which is delivered to the rear wheels via a 7-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters and a manual mode.
For the 2013 C300 4Matic Sedan, Mercedes utilizes a new direct-injection, 3.5-liter V-6 engine that creates 248 horsepower and 251 lb.-ft. of torque. Drivers of the RWD 2013 Mercedes-Benz C350 Coupe and C350 Sedan will be also be working with the 3.5-liter V-6 engine, albeit tuned to deliver 302 horsepower and 273 lb.-ft. of torque. The 7-speed automatic gearbox is standard, as is a sport-tuned suspension.
From there, performance takes a significant leap forward with the 2013 C63 AMG Coupe and Sedan models. These cars feature a 6.2-liter V-8 engine that generates 451 horsepower (481 horsepower with the optional AMG Development package) and 443 lb.-ft. of torque. In lieu of the traditional automatic, the C63s use a 7-speed multi-clutch automated manual transmission with paddle shifters and launch control and four distinct modes: Controlled Efficiency, Sport, Sport+, and Manual. Complementing these powertrain upgrades are recalibrated traction and stability control systems, larger disc brakes, and an adaptive performance-tuned suspension.
EPA fuel-economy estimates for the 2013 Mercedes-Benz C-Class are:
C250 Coupe and Sedan: 22/31/25 mpg (city/highway/combined)
C300 4Matic Sedan: 20/29/23 mpg
C350 Sedan: 20/29/24 mpg
C350 Coupe: 20/29/23 mpg
C350 4Matic Coupe: 19/27/22 mpg
C63 AMG Coupe and Sedan: 13/19/15 mpg
The 2013 Mercedes-Benz C-Class' standard safety components include 9 air bags (plus 2 optional rear side air bags), LED taillights and daytime running lights, front active head restraints, traction control, Attention Assist (sends audible and visual alerts when sensors determine driver may be drowsy), hill-start assist, hill-hold control, and 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes featuring brake drying, brake stand-by, and brake assist. Each 2013 C-Class also features Mbrace2, which alerts authorities in case of emergency and allows limits to be placed on vehicle speed and travel area, capability Mercedes-Benz suggests is helpful when the car is put in the hands of young drivers.
In crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the 2013 Mercedes-Benz C-Class received a "Good" rating--the Institute's highest--for moderate frontal-offset crash protection, but a "Poor" rating--the Institute's lowest--for small frontal offset crash protection. Still, the C-Class received a "Top Safety Pick" designation from the Institute based on its overall performance. As this preview is written, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not rated the crashworthiness of the 2013 Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
Adaptive high-beam assist, included in the optional Lighting package, automatically adjusts the angle of the headlights to provide maximum visibility for the driver, while not disturbing oncoming traffic with unwelcome glare.
Another noteworthy feature, Gracenote, is included in the 2013 Mercedes-Benz C-Class' Multimedia package. This technology enhances the listening experience for music fans by adding missing song titles and cover art to files on their MP3 players, and recommends targeted playlists based on the user's preferences.