2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Preview
By Jeff Youngs, December 31, 2011
Mercedes to Offer 4-Cylinder Engine Option on 2012 C-Class
- Refreshed for the 2012 model year
- New front and rear fascias
- New headlight and tail light designs
- New turbocharged 4-cylinder engine
- New technology including Attention Assist and Parktronic
- New AMG Development package
The Mercedes-Benz C-Class is the automaker's entry-level sedan. First introduced in 1993 as a replacement for the discontinued 190 range, the C-Class is designed to compete directly against its European rivals, the BMW 3 Series and Audi's A4 range. Over the past two decades, the C-Class has been offered in a multitude of configurations including 4-cylinder, 6-cylinder, and high-performance 8-cylinder models. Body styles have ranged from 3-door hatchbacks and 4-door sedans, to 5-door station wagons. While the European market is offered the C-Class in various models with a choice between gasoline and diesel engines, all North American models are 4-door sedans that are powered by engines running on unleaded fuel.
The current-generation C-Class debuted in 2008. Unlike its predecessors, the new model arrived in two distinct configurations: Luxury and Sport. Now in its fifth year, Mercedes-Benz has updated its C-Class for 2012 with a minor facelift, both inside and out, and a new 4-cylinder engine option. All Sport models are now fitted with standard LED running lights (mimicking the upmarket E-Class and S-Class), while C-Class models without the optional bi-Xenon headlight package receive black headlight inlays designed to alter their cosmetic appearance. Lastly, there is a new headlight control switch and relocated ESP (electronic stability control) switchgear within the cabin.
New 17-inch, 5-spoke alloy wheels are fitted to the C350 Sport models, and the range-topping C63 AMG is offered with an optional "P31" AMG Development package (it adds 30 horsepower, bumping the engine's output to 481 horsepower).
The 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class will arrive in showrooms over the summer.
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As a luxury brand, all Mercedes-Benz C-Class models are fairly well-equipped, even in base trim. Standard features include a full complement of power-operated convenience features, including power windows, power locks, cruise control, and dual-zone climate control. As mentioned, Mercedes-Benz sells the C-Class as two distinct models.
Sport models are differentiated by a front grille with a large three-pointed star (the Mercedes-Benz logo) integrated directly into the fascia. The interior of the Sport model has heavily- bolstered seats and special trim. Its suspension has been tuned for spirited driving, and as such, it delivers a firmer ride.
Luxury models, on the other hand, feature a traditional chrome grille with the Mercedes three-pointed star ornament mounted at the front of the hood. Compared to the Sport model, the interior of the Luxury model is designed with comfort as a primary objective. As such, the suspension and underpinnings are tuned with ride comfort in mind.
New for 2012 are the C250 models, fitted with an all-new 4-cylinder engine. The 1.8-liter powerplant features a turbocharger to develop 201 horsepower and 229 lb.-ft. of torque. All C250 models are rear-wheel drive and are expected to have a 7-speed automatic transmission as standard equipment.
The C300 4MATIC models feature a 3.0-liter V-6 engine rated at 228 horsepower and 221 lb.-ft. of torque. It is mated to a standard 7-speed automatic transmission. When compared to the new entry-level model, the C300 4MATIC is the only C-Class offered with permanent all-wheel drive.
All C350 models are equipped with a 3.5-liter V-6 engine under the hood. For the 2012 model, power has been bumped to 302 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque, thanks to direct injection. A 7-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive are standard.
The range-topping model is the C63 AMG. The performance-tuned model is equipped with a 6.2-liter V-8 engine rated at 450 horsepower and 443 lb.-ft. of torque. For manual control of the standard 7-speed automatic transmission, there are steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. According to the automaker, the C63 AMG will sprint to 60 mph in less than 5 seconds. Those seeking even more power will want to order the "P31 AMG Development package," as it adds new lightweight forged pistons, forged connecting rods, forged crankshaft, and modified engine management. The end result is 481 horsepower, according to Mercedes.Technology
In addition to the facelift and new engines, Mercedes-Benz has added the availability of several new technologies to its C-Class model. These include Attention Assist (which monitors driver behavior, and when he/she appears drowsy, the system sounds an audible and visible alert); Lane Keeping Assist (which monitors where the vehicle is in relation to the stripes on the road); Blind Spot Assist (which monitors whether there is another vehicle in the blind-spot on either side); and Parktronic (which uses high-frequency sound waves to alert the driver to obstacles in the vehicle's path at low speeds).
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