Mercedes-Benz started testing on the new W204 C-class in the summer of 2003, and for good reason. The outgoing C-class was never a real competitor to the BMW 3-series, being plagued with poor interior materials, overall small stature, and disappointing engines. This new model has seen hundreds of thousands of test miles in Germany, Finland, Dubai, and Namibia, among other places-such as the digital world. The 2008 C-class is the first car based on a completely virtual prototype created with 2130 gigabytes of information.
The new C-class resembles a scaled-down (and tamer) S-class, and a version of that car's dial-operated COMAND entertainment system will be available. European buyers will get 156- and 184-horsepower supercharged four-cylinders, named C180 Kompressor and C200 Kompressor, respectively. Three V-6 engines will be available: a 204-hp C230, a 231-hp C280, and a 272-hp C350. We expect only the two most powerful engines in the U.S. The latter is the same 3.5-liter found in the ML, E, SLK, and a number of other models. We also expect a detuned version of AMG's 6.2-liter V-8 to find its way beneath the hood of a C63 AMG model. Mercedes-Benz has been hyping the amount of work put into this car for months; we'll see the fruits of all that labor later this spring when we drive the new C-class.