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The 2010 Mercedes-Benz C-Class rides on a tweaked suspension, which elevates its refined ride, and offers a number of new options, including a rear-view camera and a Dynamic Handling Package, which adds a driver-adjustable suspension for an even more capable ride.The Bad
The C-Class sedans continue to receive dings from owners for their smallish cabin and marginal fuel economy, and some owners continue to express disappointment at the quality of certain materials in the cabin, as well as the awkward position of some controls.
The CarGurus View
High expectations come with the territory when a car carries the three-star badge, and that certainly applies to the 2010 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Now in the third year of its current design, which debuted in 2008, the C-Class receives some adjustments to its suspension and additions to its standard and optional equipment lists for 2010, designed to improve its appeal in a highly competitive automotive segment. Still, the C-Class carries Mercedes DNA in its bones, which translates to the unmistakable Mercedes solid feel, capable ride, and overall prestige factor.
At a Glance
The 2010 Mercedes-Benz C-Class receives minor updates to its exterior design, as well as upgrades to its standard and optional equipment lists. Outside, the '10 C-Class shows off its new streamlined side mirrors with integrated turn signals, which help improve the C-Class's overall appearance and aerodynamics. Inside, the C-Class sports a higher-quality leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, which Mercedes adds to the standard equipment list. Mercedes also adds a rear-view camera as a new option for 2010. In addition, Mercedes has revised the C-Class's optional Multimedia Package, which now includes a 6-CD changer, a 7-inch power-retractable color LCD display, and the COMAND system with hard-drive navigation and enhanced voice control. Mercedes also adds the Dynamic Handling Package as a new option for select 2010 trims. The package includes a driver-adjustable suspension, speed-sensitive steering, steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles for trims with the automatic transmission, and 18-inch AMG twin five-spoke wheels.
The 2010 C-Class lineup consists of the C300 Luxury, C300 Sport, C350 Sport, and C63 AMG trims. V6 engines power the C300 and C350 trims, while the C63 AMG retains its V8 powerplant. Mercedes offers the C300 trims as either rear-wheel-drive sedans or with the 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. The C300 Luxury sedan features Burl Walnut interior trim and luxury body styling, including a three-rib front grille with the iconic Mercedes star ornament positioned on the hood.
The C300 and C350 Sport sedans come equipped with a sport-tuned suspension and sport body styling, which includes a sport front air dam with mesh air intakes, side skirts, and rear apron. In addition, Sport sedans are distinguished by their three-bar chrome grilles with a large Mercedes star positioned in the center. The C350 Sport sedan also features dual chrome exhaust tips and a sport trunk lid spoiler. Mercedes offers the new Dynamic Handling Package as an option on both the C300 and C350 Sport sedans. The top-of-the-line C63 features a unique grille, headlights, rear spoiler, and wheels, as well as a sport exhaust system, sport suspension, and unique exterior upgrades, all designed by AMG, Mercedes' in-house tuner.
The 2010 C-Class's powerplants remain unchanged from the previous year. For the C300 Luxury and Sport trims, a base 3.0-liter V6 engine generates 228 hp and 221 lb-ft of torque, driving the sedans from 0 to 60 in 7.1 seconds. In the C300 Luxury sedan, the V6 links to a seven-speed automatic transmission, while in the C300 Sport it mates to either a six-speed manual transmission with a short-throw shifter, which comes standard, or the seven-speed automatic, available as an option. The automatic transmission features Touch Shift, which enables drivers to shift manually.
A larger 3.5-liter, double-overhead-cam V6 engine powers the C350 Sport sedan. It generates 268 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, and propels the C350 Sport from 0 to 60 in 6.1 seconds. The V6 incorporates continually variable timing, which results in a quicker response when accelerating and passing, according to the automaker. The bigger V6 also connects to the seven-speed automatic transmission.
The C63 AMG boasts a powerful 6.3-liter V8 engine, which pumps out an impressive 451 hp and a whopping 443 lb-ft of torque at 5,000 rpm. Thanks to its big V8, the C63 AMG rockets from 0 to 60 in just 4.3 seconds.
While the C300 trims with the 3.0-liter V6 engine post fairly decent fuel economy numbers of 18/25 mpg and the C350, with its larger V6, manages similar numbers of 17/25, the C63, with its beefy V8, checks in at only 12/19. All engines run on premium unleaded fuel or a mixture of E85/premium unleaded fuel.
Ride & Handling
With their specially tuned suspensions, the 2010 C-Class sedans deliver agile handling, precise steering, and a smooth ride. In fact, some reviewers compare the C-Class's ride and handling to the BMW 3 Series'. As expected, the C300 Sport rides a little firmer than the C300 Luxury, thanks to its firmer coil springs and shock absorbers, as well as its lowered ride height. All trims feature agility control, which automatically controls damping at each wheel, depending on road and load conditions. Mercedes also made adjustments to the suspension systems of the 2010 C-Class sedans to help reduce vibration and ensure a controlled, capable ride, even when the sedans are driven hard. The C300 sedans ride on 17-inch wheels with all-season performance tires.
The C350 features a sport suspension with agility control. In addition, it has a more aggressive stance, thanks to its staggered 17-inch AMG six-spoke wheels, which are wider in the rear (8.5 inches wide vs. 7.5 inches in the front). The wider wheels in the rear help improve control when accelerating and negotiating turns, according to Mercedes.
The C63 features an AMG sports suspension with AMG shock absorbers and stabilizers, which automatically adjust the air spring tuning, depending on the driving situation, to provide dynamic handling, according to the automaker.
Owners can add Mercedes' 4Matic full-time all-wheel-drive system as an option on C300 trims. The system manages torque at each wheel to ensure optimal traction and performance.
Generally, drivers will find the instruments and controls in the 2010 C-Class sedans easy to access, although some owners complain of an awkwardly positioned turn signal stalk and hard-to-reach cruise control buttons. Interior space remains snug (this is, after all, a compact sedan), so back-seat passengers in particular might feel cramped during longer trips. On the plus side, the seats in the C-Class sedans are firm and comfortable enough for most passengers. Overall, the V6 engines provide adequate power.
Cabin & Comfort
Other than minor updates, including the new leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, the interior of C-Class sedans remains unchanged for 2010. Overall, the C-Class offers an upscale and well-organized cabin, although some owners feel it doesn't quite live up to the level set by competitive sedans from BMW, Lexus, Audi, and even Hyundai. The C300 Luxury, with its Burl Walnut accents on the center console, door, and shift gate, does a good job of conveying an upscale feel, while the C300 and C350 Sport trims, with their sport-style recessed instrument gauges, black roof liner, and aluminum trim, provide a more performance-oriented feel.
Mercedes uses MB-Tex, a vinyl-like synthetic material that mimics leather, as its standard upholstery material in all trims except the C63. Standard features for the 2010 C300 trims include eight-way power-adjustable front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, electronic cruise control, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, and an eight-speaker audio system with an in-dash CD player and 5-inch color display with flip-up cover. The C350 Sport adds a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat with memory, an eight-way power-adjustable passenger seat, heated front seats, and Black Bird's-eye Maple wood trim. The C63 comes equipped with such standard features as an ergonomic three-spoke performance steering wheel, an AMG instrument cluster, sport seats with Nappa leather and side bolsters, and AMG-designed headrests.
The C-Class offers 12.4 cubic feet of cargo space in the trunk, which comes up on the short side when compared to some competitors, but should prove adequate for carrying groceries, sports gear, luggage, and other types of daily cargo.
While the 2010 C-Class sedans have not yet been crash-tested, the 2009 C-Class earned a top rating of five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for keeping passengers safe during side-impact crashes, and a four-star rating for front-impact crashes. Mercedes added pelvic airbags in 2009, which joined dual front, full-length window-curtain, and front seat side-impact airbags. An Electronic Stability Program, which applies individual brakes and reduces engine power to help the driver keep the car from fishtailing or skidding out of control on tight curves, comes standard on all C-Class sedans. Antilock brakes with brake assist also come standard. In addition, the C350 Sport comes equipped with the Quickpark parking assist system, which uses ultrasound sensors to detect obstacles behind the vehicle and audibly alerts drivers to ensure safety when backing up.
What Owners Think
The C-Class's firm ride, tight handling, solid feel, and interior comfort get very high marks from owners, who find the car fun to drive. Owners also like the C-Class's exterior styling and spirited performance. However, some owners find the cabin cramped, especially the back seat and cargo space, and others note awkwardly positioned controls, such as the cruise control buttons and the turn signal stalk. Some also comment on the automatic transmission, calling it sluggish, and many owners would like to see better fuel economy from the C-Class sedans. In addition, some also consider the interior to be a little too plasticky, falling short of expected Mercedes quality. Those shortcomings, however, do little do dampen the enthusiasm of most owners for the 2010 C-Class sedans.
Rob has been a contributor to CarGurus since 2007, and an automotive test-driver and writer since the early ’90s. He’s test-driven everything from BMWs and Jags to Bentleys and Saabs, with an occasional Range Rover, Ferrari, Porsche or Lamborghini thrown in. He also created the annual Car of the Year and Exotic Car of the Year awards for Robb Report magazine. He currently resides in California.
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