2012 Mercedes-Benz C350 4MATIC Coupe

Matt Tierney

I adore the Mercedes-Benz C-class because it is luxurious and sporting without drawing undue attention to itself. Our C350 coupe looks great, and it doesn't have any of the frivolous creases or wings or gaping air vents that adorn some of its German rivals. The same is true of the interior: you get a lovely, no-nonsense cabin that is functional and elegant, yet devoid of silly styling flourishes.

That said, people do seem to be drawn to the Mercedes more so than with other luxury cars. My totally informal impression is that friends and family are far more impressed when I show up in a Mercedes than a BMW or an Audi. For many people, that sort of badge snobbery is incredibly important.

The Mercedes is refined and comfortable yet also offers plenty of performance and driving fun if you push it. I loved driving the C350 and found it a willing companion whether I was blasting down a highway on-ramp or just cruising through downtown. The Mercedes-Benz C-class coupe is an excellent car, and I would buy one over a BMW 3-series or an Audi A5 every time.

Jake Holmes, Associate Web Editor

The Mercedes-Benz C350 4MATIC has 302 hp and only two doors, but Mercedes doesn't call it a sports car. If you look carefully, the word "sport" doesn't appear anywhere in or on the car. That's appropriate, because of all the things the C350 is, sporty isn't one of them. The 3.5-liter V-6 engine has excellent grunt and sounds great toward the upper end of the tach, but the transmission's response time when you pull the steering-wheel-mounted paddles is glacial. I appreciate the notion of shift paddles but the C350's set doesn't work well. With 4Matic all-wheel drive, the C350 at least does a good job of putting its V-6 engine's 300 hp to the ground; you'll never spin your tires leaving an intersection, no matter how hard you mash the accelerator pedal. I agree with Jake that the C-class is more luxurious than either the 335i xDrive coupe or the Audi S5, but I suspect that either one would run rings (four rings, in the S5's case) around the C-class when the driving gets enthusiastic.

Ben Timmins, Associate Web Editor

I'm not sure why Mercedes waited so long to release the coupe version of the C-class. It has a long-lived natural rival--the two-door BMW 3-series--and it couldn't have cost all that much to engineer. That said, it looks decidedly dated to me, particularly from the side profile. The very large rear side windows resemble those of the early 2000s (E46) BMW 3-series.

The steering wheel feels great, but the steering is too light and overassisted for my liking. Overall this C-class didn't impress me all that much, but I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that I drove the AMG edition first. Had I driven this all-wheel-drive C350 coupe on a slick wintry morning and not a summery evening, perhaps it would have made a stronger, more positive impression on me. Personally, though, I'd rather have an A5 in my garage.

Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor

With temperatures in the 70s during my stint with this C350, I hardly had the proper weather to put Mercedes-Benz's 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system to the test. But my previous experience with the system in larger S and CL models left me impressed with how well it grips in slick conditions. I can say that this C350 coupe felt little different from the rear-wheel-drive C350 coupe we tested late last year, perhaps a testament to just how unobtrusive the all-wheel-drive system is when it's not needed.

I've loved this two-door C-Class model since it came out last year, and still think its exterior looks both rakish and elegant. The interior is equally handsome, and a break from the drab, monotonous cabins that used to plague entry-level Benz models. The contrasting stitching on the voluptuous bucket seats is attractive, and the depth and finish of the burl wood trim accents is intoxicating.

The C350 may not look as boy-racerish as some of its rivals, but it's hard to argue Mercedes isn't providing it with some serious hardware to have fun with. A firmer, sport-tuned suspension is standard equipment. Interestingly, the C-Class coupes are the only all-wheel-drive C Class models available here with Benz's sweet, silky direct-injection 3.5-liter V-6. Order a C-Class sedan with the 4MATIC system, and you're forced into the C300 4MATIC model. The C300 makes do with a smaller 3.0-liter six-cylinder with 74 fewer horses than the 3.5-liter six.

Evan McCausland, Associate Web Editor

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What could have been great--what could have been the "grown up" STI or EVO--is instead another lukewarm luxo coupe. I wish that MB, Audi and BMW could get it through their heads that there are customers for quick, feelsome steering, lightning fast turn-in, close-ratio gears, AWD you can powerslide, AND full leather interior with ventilated seats and all the high end trimmings.

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