Comparison Test: 2007-2008 Sport Sedans

2008 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sedan

(3.5L V6 7-speed Automatic)
  • 2007 BMW 3 Series Picture

    2007 BMW 3 Series Picture

    2007 BMW 335i. | September 15, 2009

26 Photos

Tough Crowd

  • Comparison Test
  • Second Opinion
  • Stereo Evaluation
  • Top 7 Features
  • Data and Charts
  • Editors' Evaluations
  • Final Rankings and Scoring Explanation
  • 2007 Infiniti G35 Specs and Performance
  • 2007 BMW 3 Series Specs and Performance
  • 2008 Cadillac CTS V6 DI Specs and Performance
  • 2008 Lexus IS 350 Specs and Performance
  • 2008 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Specs and Performance

BMW's 335i has dominated our recent comparison tests like Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell would dominate Paul "Pee-wee Herman" Reubens in a face-punching contest. Its reign over counterparts from Infiniti, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz is as well documented on this site as the Iceman's rage-fueled rise to fame was on pay-per-view.

But every great performance must come to an end.

This is exactly why we gathered this group of sport sedans. That is, to find out if the 2008 Cadillac CTS, 2007 Infiniti G35 Sport, 2008 Lexus IS 350 or 2008 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport can topple the Bavarian champ — the 2007 BMW 335i. In the spirit of the segment, each car in the test is outfitted with sport package hardware — usually a stiffer suspension and bigger wheels and tires — and an automatic transmission.

Still, each car has its own personality, as each manufacturer's interpretation of sport, luxury and utility varies widely. So, too, does each car's as-tested price. However, the $11,000 spread that covers the field does so in almost direct proportion to each contender's feature and luxury content.

We've weighted scoring according to the priorities of the sport sedan buyer, giving equal measure to price and performance, followed by feature content and our 31-point evaluation.

5th Place: 2008 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport
The fact that the new C-Class finishes last in this test is a testament to the fierce competition in this segment and the tiny differences in performance. Here's a car that costs less than the class average ($41,935, as tested), makes handling numbers on par with the best in the test and has a superb interface for its high-end audio and navigation systems. Plus it's built, well, like a Mercedes.

It's easy, however, to see where it falls short. It was best at nothing — bringing home 1st place in exactly zero categories. Perhaps the most costly miss is its powertrain performance. The Benz's 3.5-liter V6 is rated at 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, making it the least powerful car in the test. Seven forward gears offer plenty of leverage on the road, but its acceleration still suffers. It hit 60 mph in a lazy (for this crowd) 5.9 seconds and stopped the quarter-mile clock in 14.3 seconds at 97.7 mph — the second-slowest car here. The trade-off for this lack of performance is the highest observed fuel economy in the test — a combined city/highway average of 20.6 mpg.

This isn't a particularly spacious car, with 88.2 cubic feet of passenger volume, although rear-seat room has increased some with 33.4 inches of legroom and 36.9 inches of headroom. Standard feature content, too, is a C-Class weak point. Mercedes either makes buyers pay extra or simply doesn't offer many of the features its competitors make available. Steering-wheel shift paddles, for example, aren't available on the C-Class until next year's advanced agility package becomes available. And let's face it; short of bumping output by 50 hp, nothing is going to make this car as agile as its competitors. Adaptive headlamps, a limited-slip differential and keyless start are also conspicuously unavailable.

The C350 Sport's unique appeal depends on what appears to be good build quality (a reaction to surprisingly poor quality ratings for this car in its previous iteration) and a stellar multimedia package (a $2,950 option) that combines a premium audio system with hard-drive music storage and a brilliant navigation system with an impressively easy-to-use interface.

The bottom line is that there's nothing wrong with the 2007 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport. It's a high-quality — if dispassionate — execution of the sport sedan genre. It's antiseptic in its rendering of performance numbers and utterly lacks the flamboyance of the Infiniti and BMW. And that's precisely the problem. It drives well, but there's nothing here that makes us want to get behind the wheel for more.

4th Place: 2008 Lexus IS 350
The 2008 Lexus IS 350 is the reason we put words between every car's performance numbers. It's fast thanks to a 3.5-liter V6 rated at 306 hp and 277 lb-ft of torque and a six-speed slushbox. It gets to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds, does the quarter-mile in 13.8 seconds at 101 mph and makes handling numbers that are within spitting distance of the best in the test. These dynamics shouldn't equal a 4th-place performance. Here's where those words come in handy.

Not one editor who scored this test was able to find the kind of personal connection with the Lexus that they felt behind the wheel of the top-scoring cars. Its awkward, synthetic steering, soft brake pedal and slow-responding transmission kept us from maximizing the Lexus' man-machine interface. Synthesizing the IS 350's abilities with one's own limits was near impossible, and it earned less confidence in its abilities than any other car in the test. And it's not because the IS is slow — far from it actually, as the IS's accelerative surge will tear your head off — but it just doesn't encourage the at-the-limit driving that we think should be a part of every true sport sedan's abilities. If this doesn't matter to you, then you should consider it more highly.

At $47,815, the Lexus IS 350 is the most expensive car in the test and, for the most part, it backs up that cost with a long list of features and luxury amenities. Keyless start and shift paddles that turn with the wheel are standard equipment. Our test car was optioned with $11,145 in equipment, including park assist, Lexus' pre-collision system and radar cruise control, the sport package and the $3,990 navigation system and premium audio package.

The IS's driving position as well as its front and rear seat comfort are lacking relative to others in the test. It offers 88.3 cubic feet of passenger volume, but rear seat legroom is only 30.6 inches, while headroom is 36.7 inches. Its navigation and audio system interface and secondary controls are also less intuitive to use than its competitors. It received high marks for build quality, scoring 2nd to the Mercedes.

In only three model years, the Lexus has become the old man of the sport sedan class. Partly, this is due to the rapid advances of its competition — both the Cadillac's and the Benz's navigation and audio systems are more refined (and cost less) — and to its balance of luxury and sport, which keeps it from connecting with the driver as powerfully as its competition does. Put simply, the Lexus is a fast, well-built sedan that lacks the spirit or value of its more engaging counterparts.

3rd Place: 2008 Cadillac CTS
The 2008 Cadillac CTS might just be the best car in the GM stable. In fact, remove the insane Z06 Corvette from the equation and nothing else from the General comes so close to hitting its design target. It's good. But the question remains: How well will the Caddy fare on the world stage?

Well. Very well.

Three-point-six liters of direct-injected V6 motivate the CTS's 3,990 pounds. It's the heaviest, longest, widest and tallest car in the test, which is both good and bad. When it comes to outright interior space, only the Infiniti has more. There are 98.0 cubic feet of interior passenger volume, and rear-seat legroom is 35.9 inches while rear headroom is 37.2 inches. But with about the same power as the others, the extra pork makes it slower. The benchmark 60 mph comes up in 6.3 seconds and the quarter-mile crawls past in 14.8 seconds at 95 mph.

But when it comes to turning and stopping, the big Caddy has almost as much hustle as its smaller, lighter competition. It recorded the shortest 60-0 stopping distance of the group at 109 feet and tied the Infiniti for the highest lateral grip at 0.89g. It was the only car that didn't exceed 68 mph in the slalom, but its 67.2-mph pass makes it no slouch.

Inside, the CTS is the best-appointed car in the test. Not only have its interior quality and materials leapt ahead of the C-Class and G35, but its design is as striking as it is functional. From the leather-swathed details to the brilliantly capable and easy-to-use navigation and audio system, this is simply a nice car to be inside.

And it drives well, too. Our test car, equipped with the FE-3 Performance Package, not only makes the numbers but also proves genuinely engaging to drive. Drop a few gears before bending the CTS into a turn and it matches revs for every downshift. And when the turn arrives, there's a combination of grip and balance that moves the CTS well beyond the Lexus and Benz on the fun-to-drive meter. It's this combination of on-the-road poise, interior spaciousness and world-class entertainment and navigation options that earn this car 3rd place. At $44,715, its cost — like its finishing position — is right in the middle of the group.

2nd Place: 2007 BMW 335i
Known for its unrivaled ability to mix sports car performance with luxury car comfort, BMW's 335i presents the best overall compromise of speed and comfort in the sport sedan segment. But it comes at a price. At $38,900 the 335i has the highest base price in this test. Add in the Premium Package, Sport Package, automatic transmission and several other options and our test car gets a price tag of $46,650, second only to the ludicrously optioned Lexus.

Traditionally, the 335i's acceleration is staggering, and while this car's 5.0-second run to 60 mph isn't as quick as we've recorded in past tests, it's still 0.3 second quicker than the Lexus. Its advantage diminishes to only 0.2 second by the end of the quarter-mile, which comes in 13.6 seconds at 103 mph. It also pulls 0.86g around the skid pad, slaloms at 68.9 mph and stops from 60 mph in 112 feet. Combined, this is the best overall dynamic performance in the test.

Under the Bimmer's hood lies the reason for all the go-fast. The 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline-6 is rated at 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque, and it has the most flexible engine performance here. Once it's coupled to the remarkably tractable six-speed automatic transmission, which is as at home on the racetrack as it is on Rodeo Drive, this powertrain becomes the one to beat.

The 335i also brings home the most recommended ratings, which means we would suggest it to a friend over any other car in the test. It even won our lengthy 31-point evaluation, which appraises everything from control feel to cupholder design. It's moderately spacious at 93.0 cubic feet of passenger volume, and there are 34.6 inches of rear-seat legroom and 37.5 inches of rear headroom.

Still, there are some obvious oversights. As the quickest-accelerating car in the group, the 335i stands to benefit the most from a mechanical limited-slip differential — a feature it notably lacks despite the car's high cost. And for this kind of money, it should have a navigation system. But once you check that box on the order sheet, the price of the BMW rises perilously close to the $50,000 mark.

But behind the wheel, the 335i is the most intuitive and easy-to-drive car here — not to mention the fastest. It's also the most comfortable. And that's a tough combination to beat.

1st Place: 2007 Infiniti G35 Sport
Put simply, the 2007 Infiniti G35 wins this test because it's outstanding to drive and it gives you the most car for your money. Its $36,800 as-tested price is the lowest in the test. But the real value is what it gives you, because the G35 has the most standard features of any car here and combines this accomplishment with all-around performance second only to the 335i.

All G35 Sport models come standard with shift paddles, a limited-slip differential and keyless start. And for an additional $2,650 our test car featured XM Satellite Radio and the Premium Package, which includes niceties like a power sunroof, a Bose premium audio system and memory settings for the driver seat, steering wheel and side mirrors, plus a mountain of other goodies. This is the most spacious car in this test with 99.0 cubic feet of passenger volume, rear-seat legroom measures 34.7 inches and rear-seat headroom is 37.7 inches.

The G35's power plant is the same 3.5-liter V6 used in virtually every other Nissan and Infiniti product, but it feels most at home here, under the hood of this stellar sedan. In G35 trim, the VQ35 cranks out 306 hp and 268 lb-ft of torque through the best automatic transmission in the class. The G's five-speed tranny not only responds quickest to the throttle, but also has the sharpest, most aggressive gearchanges (with rev-matched downshifts) of any automatic we've ever driven. And it feels as comfortable while blasting between gears with hard-hitting precision at full throttle as it does swapping cogs with a simple switch and slide in commuter traffic.

The G35 is the most stiffly sprung and heavily damped car here. As a result, its ride is busy and its responses walk a fine line between quick and simply nervous. But driven with a purpose, the Infiniti is the most capable car in this test when it comes to handling. Our track numbers confirm this with a best-in-test performance on the skid pad with a 0.89g mark and in the slalom with a 69.4-mph mark.

And when it comes to getting down the road, the G35 is right in the mix. The 60-mph mark disappears in 5.5 seconds and the quarter-mile is gone in 13.9 seconds at 102 mph. It scrubs off 60 mph in just 111 feet, second only to the CTS with its sticky Michelin tires.

If there is a soft spot in the G's armor, it's inside the cabin, where the design and materials aren't always as elegant as other examples in the segment. Our test car was a high-mileage unit and it showed wear on the shift knob and kick panels. Overall, however, these are small nits to pick for a car that delivers in every other area for thousands of dollars less.

The Verdict
With few exceptions, the performance of these five sport sedans is covered by mere tenths of a second or a few miles per hour. The BMW's acceleration, as usual, is striking, while the Cadillac lags behind considerably. Handling numbers, however, are a virtual wash among all the contenders.

This leaves the decision-making to more subjective means and personal taste, which is ultimately what most buyers rely upon in any case. The fact is, all five of these sedans are excellent cars. And it's not hard to find reasons to buy any of them.

We simply find the Infiniti's combination of engaging driving character, high feature content and low cost to be the most appealing. Plus, all great performances must come to an end sometime.

The manufacturers provided Edmunds these vehicles for the purposes of evaluation.

Executive Editor Michael Jordan says:
Browse through our test data and you find yourself wondering, what's really the difference among all these cars? They're all about the same size, run down the test track at about the same speed and even grip the pavement pretty much alike. Is this just some kind of fashion story? Big-ticket profiling disguised by an illusion of scientific testing?

The curious thing is, these cars are wildly different. The product planners at BMW, Cadillac, Infiniti, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz might have thought they all were speaking the same language, but it's not true either literally or figuratively. Each manufacturer has its standards of construction, its practices of development, a different test protocol, varied proving ground layouts and favorite routes for test-drives. I don't know if you've ever been to Nagoya, Japan, but it's nothing like Warren, Michigan.

If we blindfolded you, you could immediately tell these cars are different. BMW has learned more from Lexus than we realize, as the 335i's combination of quiet, comfortable resilience with serious speed is what makes this overweight car work so well. The Cadillac CTS is hyper-American, better to drive slow than it is to drive fast, yet it has a genuinely terrific down-the-road feel that's great for covering vast distances. The Infiniti G35 hands you a great engine, clever chassis concept, big tires and a steering wheel (and not much else), and sometimes that's all you need. The Lexus IS 350 is ideal for metropolitan commute traffic, when quiet isolation is what you want for most of the day, except for that one challenging off-ramp on the way home from work. The Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport reminds you that it's German every second.

As much as it's tempting to judge these cars according to abstracted ratings, the act of choosing one to drive is actually intensely personal. How else to explain that my personal favorite is the Infiniti G35, which no sane person with an adult life would ever think of picking out? The whole thing is more like choosing art and music than evaluating engineering.

2007 BMW 335i

Overall Grade: B-

Brand Name: Logic 7/Harman Kardon
Watts: N/A
Speakers: 13
Optional Equipment: N/A
Price if optional: N/A
CD Player: Single-CD player, pre-wired for changer
Formats: CD, MP3, AAC, WMA
Aux Jack: Yes
iPod-Specific Connection: Yes, optional
Hard Drive: No
Bluetooth for phone: Yes
Subwoofer: 2

How does it sound: B-
We've been very pleased with Logic 7 stereos in the past and consider the Harman Kardon audio system in the BMW 7 Series to be among the best in the industry. While the Logic 7 stereo that comes as standard equipment in the 3 Series doesn't exceed our expectations, it does meet them.

The stereo sounds good, but not appreciably better than other premium stereos — the Mark Levinson system in the IS 350 is superior in almost every way and even the Bose system in the CTS sounds a little cleaner. The bass is decent but lacks the thump of the Harman systems we're used to. Sound from all types of music is reproduced very well, with the overall tone being almost lifelike. In some cases the sound reproduction is, perhaps, too literal, as it lacks the warmth and depth of the Lexus system.

We like the Logic 7's built-in equalizer along with separate bass and treble control. Those looking for a high level of customization will like this system quite a bit.

How does it work: B
Without the complexity of iDrive, the 3 Series audio system has a simple interface, although it's maybe too simple given the number of options on this stereo. With such deep menus, the standard display seems limiting and it's then that iDrive and its larger display screen seem to make sense.

Special features: The 328i sedan offers a 10-speaker stereo as standard, with the Logic 7 system available as an option. The 335i has the Logic 7 stereo as standard. Both cars have a single-CD player as standard, while both come pre-wired for a six-disc changer which, sadly, resides in the center console, eating up precious storage space.

Conclusion: The Logic 7 system as found in the 335i delivers acceptable sound for a premium stereo. It doesn't knock our socks off like the 7 Series system does and, in the end, the Mark Levinson sounds noticeably better even to the casual listener. — Brian Moody, Road Test Editor


2008 Cadillac CTS

Overall Grade: A+

Brand Name: Bose
Watts: 300
Speakers: 10
Optional Equipment: CD/DVD player and navigation
Price if optional: $3,145
CD Player: Single-CD/DVD player
Formats: CD, MP3, DVD-A, DVD-V
Aux Jack: Yes
iPod-Specific Connection: Yes
Hard Drive: Yes
Bluetooth for phone: No (OnStar personal calling)
Subwoofer: Yes

How does it sound: B+
Sound quality from the Cadillac's Bose stereo is acceptable, but falls short when compared to the Lexus and Mercedes-Benz systems. Bass is present but not prominent, and midrange is a bit too pronounced at times. Highs are clear and sharp and add nice detail to all kinds of music.

The sound overall is about what you'd expect from a mid-premium car, but it certainly doesn't outshine the competition when considering sound quality alone. DVD-audio discs are gaining in popularity, and many luxury cars now have the ability to play these discs, including the new CTS. Both the IS 350 and C350 have this feature as well, while the 3 Series and G35 do not. As you'd expect, sound quality is excellent when playing DVDs.

How does it work: A+
The CTS's optional audio system boasts one of the best interfaces we've seen on any car at any price. There are many features and deep menus with a wide range of customizable features, yet the system never feels cumbersome or difficult to manage. Also the graphics are clear, bright and easy to read.

The pop-up screen is excellent and features a dual-mode use. When fully extended, it's a touchscreen; when retracted, it condenses audio information so that just the top part of the screen is used, yet retains touchscreen functionality.

The USB port means you can play music from portable storage devices like an iPod. Once you connect your device, a comprehensive list is easy to check at a glance — there's even a shuffle feature. Thanks for getting it, Cadillac.

Special features: Rounding out the near flawless interface is Gracenote software. Gracenote is responsible for finding the artist name, album name and track listing for each CD that cues up inside the head unit. This info stays with each song you save to the hard drive, which makes managing a library much easier. Unfortunately, Gracenote doesn't work on CDs you burn yourself, although it does quickly recognize even off-the-beaten-path albums by artists like Freedy Johnston, Small Town Poets and Julia Darling. Ever heard of them? Gracenote has.

Conclusion: Flexible, powerful and robust, this system is almost perfect and easily one of the five best systems on the market. With an amazingly slick interface and decent sound quality, Cadillac's new audio system sets the standard for other luxury brands. — Brian Moody, Road Test Editor


2007 Infiniti G35 Sport

Overall Grade: B

Brand Name: Studio on Wheels/Bose
Watts: N/A
Speakers: 10
Optional Equipment: Part of Premium Package, navigation with hard drive is a separate option.
Price if optional: Premium Package: $2,350 Navigation Package: $2,100
CD Player: Six-disc changer
Formats: CD, CD-R, CD-RW, MP3, AAC
Aux Jack: Yes
iPod-Specific Connection: No
Hard Drive: Yes
Bluetooth for phone: Yes
Subwoofer: Yes (3)

How does it sound: B
Bose says the goal of this new Infiniti sound system is to deliver detailed, lifelike sound. It has succeeded in many ways. Thanks to three 10-inch woofers mounted throughout the car, bass response is deep, sharp and well-controlled. Kick drums sound especially impressive, and even certain singers with a low frequency to their voice come across with a richer texture. Midrange is also very, very good, with excellent sound presence. The vocals cut through nicely, which ultimately makes most types of music pleasant to listen to. Infiniti provided a Stevie Ray Vaughan CD with this car, and those gruff vocals combined with a raw, pure guitar to showcase the sound system perfectly.

On some harder rock tracks, separation is only slightly less than perfect, and at very high volumes some distortion can creep in. Otherwise, the optional sound system is a treat to listen to and flexible enough to give an acoustic Johnny Cash track a certain intimacy while at the same time delivering the needed punch of a driving Relient K song.

How does it work: B
The interface is simple and easy to use thanks to a revised and more upscale-looking center display screen. However, there's no midrange adjustment, and we'd like to see some customizable features like an equalizer similar to what Harman Kardon systems offer. This system features Bose components and is an extra-cost option in the G35. It's included as part of larger option packages — most costing in excess of $3,000 — that offer many desirable features in addition to an upgraded stereo. The system consists of three speakers mounted in each front door, including a 10-inch woofer, a 1-inch tweeter and a 3-inch mid/high-range speaker, and another 3-inch speaker resides in the center of the dash as well. Each rear door has a 6.5-inch speaker and there's another 10-inch woofer in the rear package shelf. Total speaker count is 10. The upgraded system also includes a Bose digital amplifier mounted under the rear package shelf.

Special features: Having an aux jack to connect portable MP3 players is expected even in a $16,000 Scion. The G35 has a way to connect your iPod or Zune or whatever, but the in jacks are RCA-type, not mini-jack to mini-jack. The benefit is that you can run video through the system, but the downside is that you need a special mini-jack-to-RCA cable and most people will probably not figure this out until they're well into an eight-hour road trip with no Radio Shack in sight. Infiniti will likely have an iPod-specific connection soon, as they've hung their reputation on being a technology leader.

Conclusion: An excellent-sounding stereo. Its only flaws are a lack of customizable features and that funky input jack. — Brian Moody, Road Test Editor


2008 Lexus IS 350

Overall Grade: A-

Brand Name: Mark Levinson
Watts: 300
Speakers: 14
Optional Equipment: Mark Levinson, navigation, Bluetooth and rear parking camera are combined in one package.
Price if optional: $3,990
CD Player: In-dash six-disc
Formats: DVD-A, DVD-Video plus MP3, AAC and WMA discs without text support.
Aux Jack: Yes
iPod-Specific Connection: No
Hard Drive: No
Bluetooth for phone: Yes
Subwoofer: Yes

How does it sound: A
Mark Levinson's in-car systems sound excellent in general. The one found in the current IS 350 seems to be a step up in terms of technology when compared with the other cars in this test. It's just behind the CTS and equal to the Benz's HK system in terms of features. The discrete 5.1 system sounds excellent, although we still like the sound in the bigger Mark Levinson-equipped Lexus vehicles more. Vehicles like the LS 460 simply provide a much larger interior space to fill, and a more spacious stage nets a bigger sound.

Still, the IS 350's system sounds better than most factory-installed systems, regardless of price. Its strong point is its ability to deliver clean, sharp and uncluttered bass. The midrange is excellent as well. The midrange and tweeters use metal cones to reproduce the sound more efficiently, and they are mounted in the doors for optimum sound reproduction. In fact, this Mark Levinson system is specifically designed so that 5.1 playback is optimized for each seating position. In short, everyone in the car has a good seat as far as acoustic quality is concerned. Even at higher volumes the sound remains clear.

How does it work: B+
The interface for the stereo is simple and easy to use. A large button next to the dash-mounted screen provides access to the system's basic functions. Bass, midrange and treble as well as the fader control all live on the same screen. You can also turn the surround-sound feature on or off.

If we have a complaint about this stereo, it's that there aren't many customizable and flexible features. We'd like to see a progressive surround feature and/or an equalizer like on the Harman Kardon Logic 7 systems. The flip side of this complaint is that the Levinson system delivers stellar sound quality without any effort on the part of the driver. Just slide in a CD and it will sound great even if you never touch any of the sound controls, and our guess is that's exactly how Lexus customers want it.

Special features: Mark Levinson audio systems are among the best-sounding audio systems on the market. The ability to deliver true 5.1 surround sound through 7.1 architecture is one reason the system sounds so awesome, although this stereo doesn't rely on only 5.1 discs to deliver truly great sound. DVD-As sound great, of course, but even two-channel CDs sound excellent.

However, Mark Levinson in-car audio systems are not one-size-fits-all. The system featured in the IS is not the same as the one in the GS or even the top-dog LS. The IS and ES have Mark Levinson Premium surround-sound systems with 300 watts, 10 channels and 14 speakers. The GS has a 330-watt system driving 11 channels through 14 speakers. The top-of-the-line Mark Levinson Reference Surround-Sound system is found only in the Lexus LS and it features 15 bridged amp channels, 19 speakers and 450 watts of output. All, including the IS, feature discrete 5.1 surround sound.

Conclusion: An excellent stereo overall that delivers plenty of thumping bass and clean, clear sound in every range. — Brian Moody, Road Test Editor


2008 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport

Overall Grade: A-

Brand Name: Harman Kardon/Logic 7 with 5.1 surround
Watts: 450
Speakers: 12
Optional Equipment: Multimedia Package, iPod adapter
Price if optional: $2,700 for Multimedia, $375 for iPod
CD Player: In-dash six-disc
Formats: CD, MP3, DVD-A, DVD-V, PC card
Aux Jack: No
iPod-Specific Connection: Yes
Hard Drive: Yes
Bluetooth for phone: Yes
Subwoofer: Yes

How does it sound: A
Harman's Logic 7 system always sounds great no matter what car it's in. With the system's new ability to play DVD-A discs combined with discrete 5.1 surround sound, it sounds even better.

Bass is deep, although it's not as well-rounded or punchy as we'd like. Highs and mids are bright and clear, and very little distortion creeps in, no matter what type of music you like and no matter the volume. The lack of a midrange adjustment is curious, but most owners will never really miss it.

DVD discs obviously sound best. Even two-channel CDs sound very good, as this system rivals even the Mark Levinson Premium system found in the IS 350. Although both the BMW 3 Series and C350 use Logic 7 audio systems, it's the Benz's system that sounds best. It's richer and fuller-sounding overall.

How does it work: B
Order the Multimedia Package and you get an upgrade from a 5-inch screen to a 7-inch screen. It also gets you a navigation system, six-disc CD changer and Logic 7 signal processing. Although it may be gimmicky, the larger screen with the Multimedia Package neatly folds into the dash with just the touch of a button. If you're not using the nav screen or just don't want to see the monitor sticking out of the dash, you can fold it away and still listen to music while controlling it with redundant buttons on the dash or steering wheel. Only the Cadillac CTS and its ingenious periscopelike screen is better.

Every 2008 C-Class is fitted with the push-and-turn control wheel we first saw in the S-Class, and it works well with this audio and nav system with two notable exceptions. Most functions are easy to master and use of the control wheel is intuitive for the most part, but tuning a radio station is a little clunky, as the tuning bar moves side to side as well as up and down. The other exception has to do with loading CDs into the changer. The logical method would be to select "CD Changer" and then highlight the number slot you want to add a disc to — many cars do it this way. The Benz requires you to press the eject button and then select "fill slots." This isn't exactly intuitive. On the other hand, it does have an "eject all discs" feature that saves time. We wish every CD changer had that feature.

Accessing CD or DVD tracks as well as the hard drive and PC card is done via that same wheel, although it displays horizontally — highlight and click on "tracks" in the lower menu bar and the track numbers display vertically. The interface overall is not perfect, but you'll scarcely have to crack the manual on this one.

The navigation system is almost as easy to use, with a few exceptions. Bland colors, small lettering and too many streets without names make this one of the most lackluster navigation systems — this is especially odd given the sharp look of the larger screen otherwise.

Special features: There are few factory-installed audio systems that are as robust and flexible as that found in the new C-Class. Full iPod connectivity is a dealer-installed accessory and is well worth the extra $375. This — combined with the hard drive, PC card slot, DVD audio and video capabilities — make this version of the Logic 7 one of the most compelling sound systems on the market. Also, $2,700 for the Multimedia Package is a bargain considering it includes both a navigation system and premium audio system.

Conclusion: The C350's optional audio system combined with navigation should cost more than $2,700 given all that it includes. Regardless of price, the C350's stereo is very flexible and robust, and delivers excellent sound quality — exactly what we'd expect from a car with the three-pointed star. — Brian Moody, Road Test Editor

Some of the luxury sport sedans in this test wrap plenty of high-end features into their "Sport" packages. However, there are several critical performance- and luxury-enhancing items left off the list of amenities included in each manufacturer's equipment list. We selected seven features we feel are must-have items for cars in this class.

Features

Features
2007 BMW
335i
2008 Cadillac CTS 2007 Infiniti G35 Sport 2008 Lexus IS 350 2008 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport
Adaptive headlights S O O O N/A
Hard-drive media storage N/A O O N/A O
Keyless start O O S S N/A
Mechanical limited-slip differential N/A O S N/A N/A
Navigation system O O O O O
Paddle shifters O N/A S S N/A
Satellite radio O S O O S


Key:
S: Standard
O: Optional
N/A: Not Available

Adaptive headlights: Adaptive (self-aiming) headlights do wonders for enhancing spirited night driving and increasing safety on unfamiliar roads. Only BMW makes them standard on the 335i.

Hard-drive media storage: The ability to store music or other media directly to a car's hard drive is the future of in-car entertainment, so we reward those manufacturers that are leading the charge.

Keyless start: An honest convenience feature, keyless start allows a driver to enter and start their car without digging around for a key or a key fob. It's a little detail that's awfully nice once you've lived with it.

Mechanical limited-slip differential: Anybody who's driven a powerful car aggressively on an off-camber back road knows the benefit of a real mechanical limited-slip differential. Some manufacturers claim their electronic, brake-activated systems offer the same benefit, but there's no substitute for mechanically distributing power to the driven wheels that have traction.

Navigation system: No longer a luxury-only amenity, these systems go a long way in enhancing any car's practicality. Every model in this test makes one available, but only the Cadillac, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz test cars had them.

Paddle shifters: Every one of these cars has an automatic transmission, so the ability to control it as easily and intuitively as possible is critical to performance. Shift paddles on the steering wheel make that job easier.

Satellite radio: Like navigation systems, satellite radio is rapidly becoming an expected feature in most high-end marques. Only Cadillac and Mercedes-Benz make it standard.

Dimensions
Engine & Transmission Specifications
Warranty Information
Performance Information

Dimensions

Exterior Dimensions & Capacities
2007 BMW 335i 2008 Cadillac CTS 2007 Infiniti G35 Sport 2008 Lexus IS 350 2008 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport
Length, in. 178.2 191.6 187.0 180.1 182.3
Width, in. 71.5 72.5 69.8 70.9 69.7
Height, in. 55.9 58.0 57.2 56.1 56.3
Wheelbase, in. 108.7 113.4 112.2 107.5 108.7
Manufacturer Curb Weight, lb. 3,613 3,990 3,630 3,587 3,592
Turning Circle, ft. 36.1 36.0 35.4 33.5 37.4
Interior Dimensions
2007 BMW 335i 2008 Cadillac CTS 2007 Infiniti G35 Sport 2008 Lexus IS 350 2008 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport
Front headroom, in. 38.5 38.8 40.5 37.2 37.1
Rear headroom, in. 37.5 37.2 37.7 36.7 36.9
Front shoulder room, in. 55.4 56.7 55.6 54.4 56.4
Rear shoulder room, in. 55.1 57.4 55.2 52.7 56.1
Front legroom, in. 41.5 42.4 43.9 43.9 36.9
Rear legroom, in. 34.6 35.9 34.7 30.6 33.4

Engine & Transmission Specifications

Engine & Transmission
2007 BMW 335i 2008 Cadillac CTS 2007 Infiniti G35 Sport 2008 Lexus IS 350 2008 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport
Displacement
(cc / cu-in):
2400 (146) 3000 (183) 2500 (153) 3500 (214) 3500 (214)
Engine Type Inline-6 V6 V6 V6 V6
Horsepower (SAE) @ rpm 300 @ 5,800 304 @ 6,400 306 @ 6,800 306 @ 6,400 268 @ 6,000
Max. Torque, lb-ft @ rpm 300 @ 1,400 273 @ 5,200 268 @ 5,200 277 @ 4,800 258 @ 2,400
Transmission 6-speed automatic 6-speed automatic 5-speed automatic 6-speed automatic 7-speed automatic
2008 EPA Fuel Economy City, mpg 19 17 19 21 18
2008 EPA Fuel Economy Hwy, mpg 29 26 26 28 27
Edmunds Observed Fuel Economy combined, (best/worst) mpg 18.2 18.3 18.9 18.8 20.6

Warranty

Warranty Information
2007 BMW 335i 2008 Cadillac CTS 2007 Infiniti G35 Sport 2008 Lexus IS 350 2008 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport
Basic Warranty 4 years/50,000 miles 4 years/50,000 miles 4 years/60,000 miles 4 years/50,000 miles 4 years/50,000 miles
Powertrain 4 years/50,000 miles 5 years/100,000 miles 6 years/70,000 miles 6 years/70,000 miles 4 years/50,000 miles
Roadside Assistance 4 years/Unlimited miles 5 years/100,000 miles 4 years/60,000 miles 4 years/Unlimited miles Unlimited
Corrosion Protection 12 years/Unlimited miles 6 years/Unlimited miles 7 years/Unlimited miles 6 years/Unlimited miles 4 years/50,000 miles

Performance

Performance Information
2007 BMW 335i 2008 Cadillac CTS 2007 Infiniti G35 Sport 2008 Lexus IS 350 2008 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport
0-60 mph acceleration, sec. 5.0 6.3 5.5 5.3 5.9
Quarter-mile acceleration, sec. 13.6 14.8 13.9 13.8 14.3
Quarter-mile speed, mph 103.0 95.4 102.6 101.3 97.7
60-0-mph braking, feet 112 109 111 116 115
Lateral Acceleration, g 0.86 0.89 0.89 0.87 0.86
600-ft slalom, mph 68.9 67.2 69.4 68.5 68.9

Evaluation - Drive
Evaluation - Ride
Evaluation - Design
Evaluation - Function

Evaluation - Drive

Overall Dynamics
Vehicle Score Rank
2008 Cadillac CTS 7.5 3
2007 Infiniti G35 Sport 8.4 2
2007 BMW 335i 8.8 1
2008 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport 7.2 5
2008 Lexus IS 350 7.5 4
Engine Performance
Vehicle Score Rank
2008 Cadillac CTS 7.0 5
2007 Infiniti G35 Sport 8.5 2
2007 BMW 335i 9.8 1
2008 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport 7.3 4
2008 Lexus IS 350 8.3 3
Transmission Performance
Vehicle Score Rank
2008 Cadillac CTS 7.3 4
2007 Infiniti G35 Sport 8.8 1
2007 BMW 335i 8.5 2
2008 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport 7.5 3
2008 Lexus IS 350 7.3 4
Brake Performance
Vehicle Score Rank
2008 Cadillac CTS 7.8 3
2007 Infiniti G35 Sport 8.0 2
2007 BMW 335i 8.3 1
2008 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport 7.0 5
2008 Lexus IS 350 7.3 4
Steering Performance
Vehicle Score Rank
2008 Cadillac CTS 7.5 3
2007 Infiniti G35 Sport 8.0 2
2007 BMW 335i 8.8 1
2008 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport 6.8 5
2008 Lexus IS 350 7.0 4
Handling
Vehicle Score Rank
2008 Cadillac CTS 7.8 3
2007 Infiniti G35 Sport 8.4 2
2007 BMW 335i 8.8 1
2008 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport 7.4 4
2008 Lexus IS 350 7.0 5
Fun to Drive
Vehicle Score Rank
2008 Cadillac CTS 7.5 4
2007 Infiniti G35 Sport 8.6 2
2007 BMW 335i 8.9 1
2008 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport 7.3 5
2008 Lexus IS 350 8.0 3

Evaluation - Ride

Overall Comfort
Vehicle Score Rank
2008 Cadillac CTS 8.3 1
2007 Infiniti G35 Sport 8.0 3
2007 BMW 335i 8.2 2
2008 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport 7.7 4
2008 Lexus IS 350 7.6 5
Ride Comfort
Vehicle Score Rank
2008 Cadillac CTS 8.6 2
2007 Infiniti G35 Sport 7.6 4
2007 BMW 335i 8.8 1
2008 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport 7.5 5
2008 Lexus IS 350 8.0 3
Wind Noise
Vehicle Score Rank
2008 Cadillac CTS 8.5 1
2007 Infiniti G35 Sport 8.0 4
2007 BMW 335i 7.8 5
2008 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport 8.3 2
2008 Lexus IS 350 8.3 2
Road Noise
Vehicle Score Rank
2008 Cadillac CTS 8.0 1
2007 Infiniti G35 Sport 7.8 5
2007 BMW 335i 8.0 1
2008 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport 8.0 1
2008 Lexus IS 350 8.0 1
Front Seat Comfort/Space/Access
Vehicle Score Rank
2008 Cadillac CTS 8.0 2
2007 Infiniti G35 Sport 8.0 2
2007 BMW 335i 8.3 1
2008 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport 7.5 4
2008 Lexus IS 350 7.3 5
Rear Seat Comfort/Space/Access
Vehicle Score Rank
2008 Cadillac CTS 8.3 1
2007 Infiniti G35 Sport 8.0 2
2007 BMW 335i 7.5 3
2008 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport 7.1 4
2008 Lexus IS 350 6.8 5
Driving Position
Vehicle Score Rank
2008 Cadillac CTS 8.3 3
2007 Infiniti G35 Sport 8.5 2
2007 BMW 335i 8.8 1
2008 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport 8.0 4
2008 Lexus IS 350 7.3 5

Evaluation - Design

Overall Design & Build Quality
Vehicle Score Rank
2008 Cadillac CTS 7.7 3
2007 Infiniti G35 Sport 7.5 5
2007 BMW 335i 8.4 1
2008 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport 7.6 4
2008 Lexus IS 350 7.8 2
Exterior Design
Vehicle Score Rank
2008 Cadillac CTS 8.1 2
2007 Infiniti G35 Sport 7.5 3
2007 BMW 335i 8.8 1
2008 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport 7.4 4
2008 Lexus IS 350 7.3 5
Interior Design
Vehicle Score Rank
2008 Cadillac CTS 7.9 2
2007 Infiniti G35 Sport 7.6 3
2007 BMW 335i 8.3 1
2008 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport 7.5 4
2008 Lexus IS 350 7.5 4
Interior Materials
Vehicle Score Rank
2008 Cadillac CTS 7.8 3
2007 Infiniti G35 Sport 7.4 4
2007 BMW 335i 8.6 1
2008 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport 7.4 4
2008 Lexus IS 350 8.3 2
Interior Control Tactile Feel
Vehicle Score Rank
2008 Cadillac CTS 8.0 4
2007 Infiniti G35 Sport 7.8 5
2007 BMW 335i 8.9 1
2008 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport 8.1 3
2008 Lexus IS 350 8.3 2
Squeaks & Rattles
Vehicle Score Rank
2008 Cadillac CTS 7.1 5
2007 Infiniti G35 Sport 7.3 4
2007 BMW 335i 8.0 1
2008 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport 7.5 3
2008 Lexus IS 350 7.8 2
Panel Fitment & Gaps
Vehicle Score Rank
2008 Cadillac CTS 7.3 5
2007 Infiniti G35 Sport 7.5 4
2007 BMW 335i 7.8 1
2008 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport 7.8 1
2008 Lexus IS 350 7.8 1

Evaluation - Function

Overall Function
Vehicle Score Rank
2008 Cadillac CTS 7.5 2
2007 Infiniti G35 Sport 7.5 3
2007 BMW 335i 7.5 4
2008 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport 7.6 1
2008 Lexus IS 350 7.2 5
Headlamp Illumination
Vehicle Score Rank
2008 Cadillac CTS 7.8 3
2007 Infiniti G35 Sport 7.8 3
2007 BMW 335i 7.9 2
2008 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport 7.8 3
2008 Lexus IS 350 8.0 1
Visibility
Vehicle Score Rank
2008 Cadillac CTS 7.3 3
2007 Infiniti G35 Sport 7.5 1
2007 BMW 335i 7.5 1
2008 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport 7.3 3
2008 Lexus IS 350 7.0 5
Instrument Panel (IP) Layout
Vehicle Score Rank
2008 Cadillac CTS 7.3 4
2007 Infiniti G35 Sport 7.8 2
2007 BMW 335i 7.9 1
2008 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport 7.1 5
2008 Lexus IS 350 7.5 3
Climate Control Layout
Vehicle Score Rank
2008 Cadillac CTS 7.6 3
2007 Infiniti G35 Sport 7.8 2
2007 BMW 335i 7.4 4
2008 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport 8.4 1
2008 Lexus IS 350 7.1 5
Audio System Layout
Vehicle Score Rank
2008 Cadillac CTS 7.8 1
2007 Infiniti G35 Sport 7.5 2
2007 BMW 335i 7.4 4
2008 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport 7.5 2
2008 Lexus IS 350 7.3 5
Secondary Control Layout
Vehicle Score Rank
2008 Cadillac CTS 7.4 3
2007 Infiniti G35 Sport 7.4 3
2007 BMW 335i 7.8 1
2008 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport 7.8 1
2008 Lexus IS 350 7.3 5
Interior Storage
Vehicle Score Rank
2008 Cadillac CTS 7.8 1
2007 Infiniti G35 Sport 7.6 2
2007 BMW 335i 6.9 5
2008 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport 7.4 3
2008 Lexus IS 350 7.3 4
Cupholders
Vehicle Score Rank
2008 Cadillac CTS 7.5 2
2007 Infiniti G35 Sport 7.5 2
2007 BMW 335i 6.6 5
2008 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport 8.0 1
2008 Lexus IS 350 6.8 4
Standard Cargo / Trunk Space
Vehicle Score Rank
2008 Cadillac CTS 8.0 1
2007 Infiniti G35 Sport 7.0 4
2007 BMW 335i 8.0 1
2008 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport 8.0 1
2008 Lexus IS 350 7.0 4
Maximum Cargo Space
Vehicle Score Rank
2008 Cadillac CTS 7.0 3
2007 Infiniti G35 Sport 7.0 3
2007 BMW 335i 7.3 1
2008 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport 7.3 1
2008 Lexus IS 350 7.0 3

Final Rankings

Final Rankings
Item Weight 2007 Infiniti G35 Sport 2007 BMW 335i 2008 Cadillac CTS 2008 Lexus IS 350 2008 Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport
Personal Rating 5% 90.0% 90.0% 60.0% 25.0% 35.0%
Recommended Rating 5% 80.0% 90.0% 65.0% 30.0% 35.0%
Evaluation Score 20% 78.3% 82.0% 77.4% 75.1% 75.4%
Feature Content 20% 66.7% 38.1% 52.4% 52.4% 33.3%
Performance 25% 93.6% 95.7% 74.2% 89.8% 79.8%
Price 25% 100.0% 73.2% 78.5% 70.1% 86.0%
Total Score 100.0% 85.9% 75.2% 70.4% 68.2% 66.7%
Final Ranking 1 2 3 4 5
$36,800 $46,650 $44,715 $47,815 $41,935

Personal Rating (5%): Purely subjective. After the test, each participating editor was asked to rank the vehicles in order of preference based on which he or she would buy if money were no object.

Recommended Rating (5%): After the test, each participating editor was asked to rank the vehicles in order of preference based on which he or she thought would be best for the average consumer shopping in this segment.

31-Point Evaluation (20%): Each participating editor ranked every vehicle based on a comprehensive 31-point evaluation. The evaluation covered everything from exterior design to cupholders. Scoring was calculated on a point system, and the scores listed are averages based on all test participants' evaluations.

Feature Content (20%): For this category, the editors picked the top seven features they thought would be most beneficial to the consumer shopping in this segment. For each vehicle, the score was based on the number of actual features each vehicle had versus the total possible (seven). Standard and optional equipment were taken into consideration.

Performance Testing (25%): Each vehicle was run through Inside Line's regimen of standardized instrumented tests: acceleration (0-60 and quarter-mile), braking (60-0) slalom and skid pad. Points were awarded as a percentage of the best overall performance in each test.

Price (25%): The numbers listed were the result of a simple percentage calculation based on the least expensive vehicle in the comparison test. Using the "as-tested" prices of the actual evaluation vehicles, the least expensive vehicle received a score of 100, with the remaining vehicles receiving lesser scores based on how much each one costs.

Vehicle
Model year2007
MakeInfiniti
ModelG35
StyleSport 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 5A)
Base MSRP$34,150
As-tested MSRP$36,800
Drivetrain
Drive typeRear-wheel drive
Engine typeV6
Displacement (cc/cu-in)3.5 liters
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)306 @ 6,800
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)268 @ 5,200
Transmission type5-speed automatic
Chassis
Suspension, frontDouble wishbone
Suspension, rearMultilink
Steering typeSpeed-proportional power steering
Tire brandBridgestone
Tire modelPerformance
Tire size, frontP225/50R18 W
Tire size, rearP245/45R18 W
Brakes, frontVentilated disc
Brakes, rearVentilated disc
Track Test Results
0-45 mph (sec.)3.7
0-60 mph (sec.)5.5
0-75 mph (sec.)7.8
1/4-mile (sec. @ mph)13.9 @ 102.6
Braking, 30-0 mph (ft.)29
60-0 mph (ft.)111
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph)69.4
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g)0.89
Sound level @ idle (dB)41.4
@ Full throttle (dB)77.6
@ 70 mph cruise (dB)66.9
Test Driver Ratings & Comments
Acceleration commentsThe G35 Sport offers brilliant high-rpm power delivery combined with sharp, positive shifts at redline, unlike many automatics in the segment -- even those designed for performance. Our best launch was achieved in manual mode, which allows 1st gear to be held to redline with some wheelspin and shifts immediately when asked, to avoid the rev limiter.
Braking ratingExcellent
Braking commentsResponsive, rock-solid pedal feel with immediate effectiveness. Our test car had an obvious rotor inconsistency, which caused disconcerting noise and pedal feedback, but performance didn't seem to suffer.
Handling ratingExcellent
Handling commentsUltimately the G35 is probably the most capable-handling car in the segment, but most drivers will never be able to access its difficult-to-achieve limits. With stiff springs and heavy damping, its reponses are very immediate -- maybe even too quick. In Sport trim, both the BMW 335i and Lexus IS 350 offer almost as much handling performance without being this nervous at the limit.
Testing Conditions
Elevation (ft.)421
Temperature (F)62
Wind (mph, direction)2
Fuel Consumption
EPA fuel economy (mpg)19 city/26 highway
Edmunds observed (mpg)18.9
Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.)20
Dimensions & Capacities
Curb weight, mfr. claim (lbs.)3,538
Curb weight, as tested (lbs.)3,638
Length (in.)187.0
Width (in.)69.8
Height (in.)57.2
Wheelbase (in.)112.2
Legroom, front (in.)43.9
Legroom, rear (in.)34.7
Headroom, front (in.)40.5
Headroom, rear (in.)37.7
Seating capacity5
Cargo volume (cu-ft)13.5
Max. cargo volume, seats folded (cu-ft)13.5 cu-ft
Warranty
Bumper-to-bumper4 years/60,000 miles
Powertrain6 years/70,000 miles
Corrosion7 years/Unlimited miles
Roadside assistance4 years/60,000 miles
Free scheduled maintenanceNot available
Safety
Front airbagsStandard
Side airbagsStandard dual front
Head airbagsStandard front and rear
Antilock brakes4-wheel ABS
Electronic brake enhancementsBrake assist, electronic brakeforce distribution
Traction controlStandard
Stability controlStandard
Rollover protectionNot available
Emergency assistance systemOptional
NHTSA crash test, driverNot tested
NHTSA crash test, passengerNot tested
NHTSA crash test, side frontNot tested
NHTSA crash test, side rearNot tested
NHTSA rollover resistanceNot tested
Vehicle
Model year2007
MakeBMW
Model3 Series
Style335i 4dr Sedan (3.0L 6cyl Turbo 6M)
Base MSRP$39,675
As-tested MSRP$46,650
Drivetrain
Drive typeRear-wheel drive
Engine typeTwin turbocharged DOHC 24-valve inline-6
Displacement (cc/cu-in)3.0 liters (2,979cc)
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)300 @ 5,800
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)300 @ 1,400
Transmission type6-speed automatic
Chassis
Suspension, frontIndependent, MacPherson struts, coil springs and stabilizer bar
Suspension, rearIndependent, multilink, coil springs and stabilizer bar
Steering typeSpeed-proportional rack-and-pinion power steering
Tire brandBridgestone
Tire modelPotenza RE050A Run-flat
Tire size, front225/40R18 88W
Tire size, rear255/35R18 90W
Brakes, frontVentilated disc
Brakes, rearVentilated disc
Track Test Results
0-45 mph (sec.)3.3
0-60 mph (sec.)5
0-75 mph (sec.)7.4
1/4-mile (sec. @ mph)13.6 @ 103.0
Braking, 30-0 mph (ft.)28
60-0 mph (ft.)112
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph)68.9
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g)0.86
Sound level @ idle (dB)46.9
@ Full throttle (dB)76.3
@ 70 mph cruise (dB)62.5
Test Driver Ratings & Comments
Acceleration commentsBrilliant bottom-end torque means launching too hard can easily result in smoked tires. Too little throttle and it would leave slowly, off boost. Our best launch was in "Drive Sport" with mild brake torque from about 1,400 rpm.
Braking ratingExcellent
Braking commentsBenchmark performance, again. Minimal idle-stroke then, like hitting a concrete wall, the pedal stops moving and so does the car. See our exhaustive notes from the many tests weve done on the 335i. All apply.
Handling ratingExcellent
Handling commentsA limited-slip would convey more of the intentions of the chassis on the skid pad, but the 335i still turns with the best in the class. Through the slalom it might not be the quickest, but the 335i feels the best, with intuitive steering and brilliant transitional response. A very willing dance partner in any test of handling.
Testing Conditions
Elevation (ft.)421
Temperature (F)86.9
Wind (mph, direction)3.1
Fuel Consumption
EPA fuel economy (mpg)19 city/29 highway
Edmunds observed (mpg)18.2
Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.)16.1
Dimensions & Capacities
Curb weight, mfr. claim (lbs.)3,593
Curb weight, as tested (lbs.)3,641
Weight distribution, as tested, f/r (%)50/50
Length (in.)178.2
Width (in.)71.5
Height (in.)55.9
Wheelbase (in.)108.7
Legroom, front (in.)41.5
Legroom, rear (in.)34.6
Headroom, front (in.)38.5
Headroom, rear (in.)37.5
Seating capacity5
Cargo volume (cu-ft)12.0
Max. cargo volume, seats folded (cu-ft)Folding seats are optional; no data given
Warranty
Bumper-to-bumper4 years/50,000 miles
Powertrain4 years/50,000 miles
Corrosion12 years/Unlimited miles
Roadside assistance4 years/Unlimited miles
Free scheduled maintenance4 years/50,000 miles
Safety
Front airbagsStandard
Side airbagsStandard dual front
Head airbagsStandard front and rear
Antilock brakes4-wheel ABS
Electronic brake enhancementsBrake assist, electronic brakeforce distribution, fade compensation, brake drying, hill-start assist
Traction controlStandard
Stability controlStandard
Rollover protectionNot available
Emergency assistance systemOptional (included in Premium package)
NHTSA crash test, driverNot tested
NHTSA crash test, passengerNot tested
NHTSA crash test, side frontNot tested
NHTSA crash test, side rearNot tested
NHTSA rollover resistanceNot tested
Vehicle
Model year2008
MakeCadillac
ModelCTS V6 DI
Style4dr Sedan (3.6L 6cyl 6A)
Base MSRP$35,290
As-tested MSRP$44,715
Drivetrain
Drive typeRear-wheel drive
Engine typeDirect-injection V6
Displacement (cc/cu-in)3.6 liters (3,564cc)
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)304 @ 6,400
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)273 @ 5,200
Transmission type6-speed automatic
Chassis
Suspension, frontIndependent, double wishbones, coil springs and stabilizer bar
Suspension, rearIndependent, multilink, coil springs and stabilizer bar
Steering typeSpeed-proportional power steering
Tire brandMichelin
Tire modelPilot Sport PS2
Tire size, front235/50ZR18 97Y
Tire size, rear235/50ZR18 97Y
Brakes, frontVentilated disc
Brakes, rearVentilated disc
Track Test Results
0-45 mph (sec.)4.1
0-60 mph (sec.)6.3
0-75 mph (sec.)9.3
1/4-mile (sec. @ mph)14.8 @ 95.4
Braking, 30-0 mph (ft.)29
60-0 mph (ft.)109
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph)67.2
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g)0.89
Sound level @ idle (dB)43.3
@ Full throttle (dB)82.9
@ 70 mph cruise (dB)67.5
Test Driver Ratings & Comments
Acceleration commentsWith traction control disabled, the sticky tires don't allow for an optimal launch because after initially spinning, they grip the pavement and the car bogs off the line. Also there's a slight dip in torque (between 3,000 and 4,000 rpm) right when the tires hook up, further hampering attempted wheelspin. Otherwise the sport-shift mode on the six-speed automatic supplies quick-yet-smooth upshifts right at redline. Acceleration is brisk, but not outstanding.
Braking ratingExcellent
Braking commentsOutstanding brake feel and power. The nose dips a bit, but the rapid-cycle ABS maintains uniform forward pitch until full-stop. This is where the sticky tires begin to show their value. Also, these optional brakes show amazing fade resistance, with improved performance from the first to the last run.
Handling ratingExcellent
Handling commentsThe CTS with the FE-3 suspension and summer tire package is simple to balance on the edge of grip, with absolutely zero steering correction required on the skid pad. Impressive grip with a slight tendency toward understeer. Pushed beyond this, the car understeers heavily and doesn't have enough torque to break the rear tires loose for power oversteer without much coaxing. In the slalom, impressive grip and quick, precise steering are the predominant values. Its quick turn-in is followed closely by the rear end that tracks obediently. Only with sloppy throttle work or steering overcorrection does the rear begin to step out. Smoothness is rewarded. The CTS's low-effort steering is nice, but could offer more feedback.
Testing Conditions
Elevation (ft.)421
Temperature (F)62
Wind (mph, direction)2
Fuel Consumption
EPA fuel economy (mpg)17 city/26 highway
Edmunds observed (mpg)18.3 combined
Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.)18
Dimensions & Capacities
Curb weight, mfr. claim (lbs.)3,874
Curb weight, as tested (lbs.)3,990
Length (in.)191.6
Width (in.)72.5
Height (in.)58.0
Wheelbase (in.)113.4
Legroom, front (in.)42.4
Legroom, rear (in.)35.9
Headroom, front (in.)38.8
Headroom, rear (in.)37.2
Seating capacity5
Cargo volume (cu-ft)12.5
Max. cargo volume, seats folded (cu-ft)Not available
Warranty
Bumper-to-bumper4 years/50,000 miles
Powertrain5 years/100,000 miles
Corrosion6 years/Unlimited miles
Roadside assistance5 years/100,000 miles
Free scheduled maintenanceNot available
Safety
Front airbagsStandard
Side airbagsStandard dual front
Head airbagsStandard front and rear
Antilock brakes4-wheel ABS
Electronic brake enhancementsBrake assist, electronic brakeforce distribution
Traction controlStandard
Stability controlStandard
Rollover protectionNot available
Emergency assistance systemStandard 1-year subscription
NHTSA crash test, driverNot tested
NHTSA crash test, passengerNot tested
NHTSA crash test, side frontNot tested
NHTSA crash test, side rearNot tested
NHTSA rollover resistanceNot tested
Vehicle
Model year2008
MakeLexus
ModelIS 350
Style4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 6A)
Base MSRP$36,670
As-tested MSRP$47,815
Drivetrain
Drive typeRear-wheel drive
Engine typeV6
Displacement (cc/cu-in)3.5 liters
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)306 @ 6,400
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)277 @ 4,800
Transmission type6-speed automatic
Chassis
Suspension, frontDouble wishbone
Suspension, rearMultilink
Steering typeElectric speed-proportional power steering
Tire brandMichelin
Tire modelPerformance
Tire size, front225/40R18 Y
Tire size, rear255/40R18 Y
Brakes, frontVentilated disc
Brakes, rearVentilated disc
Track Test Results
0-45 mph (sec.)3.4
0-60 mph (sec.)5.3
0-75 mph (sec.)7.6
1/4-mile (sec. @ mph)13.8 @ 101.3
Braking, 30-0 mph (ft.)29
60-0 mph (ft.)116
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph)68.5
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g)0.87
Sound level @ idle (dB)38.6
@ Full throttle (dB)77.9
@ 70 mph cruise (dB)68.9
Test Driver Ratings & Comments
Acceleration commentsOur best runs were made in "Drive Sport" mode because the automatic tranny's response is too slow using manual shifting. Traction control and stability control were fully disabled. Finding the perfect balance of wheelspin while competing with the ever-changing torque converter lock-up is difficult. Too-slow shift response results in hitting the rev limiter in manual mode. The IS 350 has electric-smooth power delivery above 3,000 rpm.
Braking ratingGood
Braking commentsSoft, long-travel brake pedal action is not the most confident in the segment. Seatbelt pretensioners are quite aggressive during this test.
Handling ratingGood
Handling commentsThe IS 350 makes impressive handling numbers without beating up its occupants or being nervous at the limit like the Infiniti G35. Its ride/handling compromise is superb but it offers less information through its controls and chassis than a BMW 335i.
Testing Conditions
Elevation (ft.)421
Temperature (F)67.5
Wind (mph, direction)3
Fuel Consumption
EPA fuel economy (mpg)18 city/25 highway
Edmunds observed (mpg)18.8
Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.)17.1
Dimensions & Capacities
Curb weight, mfr. claim (lbs.)3,527
Curb weight, as tested (lbs.)3,578
Length (in.)180.1
Width (in.)70.9
Height (in.)56.1
Wheelbase (in.)107.5
Legroom, front (in.)43.9
Legroom, rear (in.)30.6
Headroom, front (in.)37.2
Headroom, rear (in.)36.7
Seating capacity5
Cargo volume (cu-ft)13
Max. cargo volume, seats folded (cu-ft)13 cu-ft
Warranty
Bumper-to-bumper4 years/50,000 miles
Powertrain6 years/70,000 miles
Corrosion6 years/Unlimited miles
Roadside assistance4 years/Unlimited miles
Free scheduled maintenanceUnlimited years/5,000 miles
Safety
Front airbagsStandard
Side airbagsStandard dual front
Head airbagsStandard front and rear
Antilock brakes4-wheel ABS
Electronic brake enhancementsBrake assist, electronic brakeforce distribution
Traction controlStandard
Stability controlStandard
Rollover protectionNot available
Emergency assistance systemOptional
NHTSA crash test, driverNot tested
NHTSA crash test, passengerNot tested
NHTSA crash test, side frontNot tested
NHTSA crash test, side rearNot tested
NHTSA rollover resistanceNot tested
Vehicle
Model year2008
MakeMercedes-Benz
ModelC-Class
StyleC350 Sport 4dr Sedan
Base MSRP$36,500
As-tested MSRP$41,935
Drivetrain
Drive typeRear-wheel drive
Engine typeDOHC, 24-valve V6
Displacement (cc/cu-in)3.5 liters (3,498cc)
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)268 @ 6,000
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)258 @ 2,400
Transmission type7-speed automatic
Chassis
Suspension, frontIndependent, MacPherson struts, coil springs and stabilizer bar
Suspension, rearIndependent, multilink, coil springs and stabilizer bar
Steering typeSpeed-proportional rack-and-pinion power steering
Tire brandContinental
Tire modelContiSport Contact3
Tire size, front225/40ZR18 92Y
Tire size, rear255/35ZR18 94Y
Brakes, frontVentilated disc
Brakes, rearVentilated disc
Track Test Results
0-45 mph (sec.)3.8
0-60 mph (sec.)5.9
0-75 mph (sec.)8.6
1/4-mile (sec. @ mph)14.3 @ 97.7
Braking, 30-0 mph (ft.)30
60-0 mph (ft.)115
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph)68.9
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g)0.86
Sound level @ idle (dB)43.3
@ Full throttle (dB)75.8
@ 70 mph cruise (dB)65.2
Test Driver Ratings & Comments
Acceleration commentsThe best launch came with the traction control shut off, but without brake torque or wheelspin. Simply slap 'n go on the shift lever worked just right with a hint of slip. Upshifts are quick and almost seamless right at redline, but manual mode is hopelessly slow in response, both for upshifts and downshifts.
Braking ratingGood
Braking commentsNoticed some initial idle stroke and booster hiss, but otherwise the brakes are extremely effective and easily modulated despite the softest pedal in the segment.
Handling ratingGood
Handling commentsBoth the balance and grip are trustworthy and it's easy to find the limits. While there's certainly more information coming from the steering than in the previous-gen C-Class, this is by no means a class leader in terms of feel. Good, just not great. Also, without the ability to fully defeat stability control, it's very difficult to produce consistent performances through the slalom. This, we suspect, would translate to spirited road driving as well. Our fastest run (as indicated) was 68.9 mph -- on par with the BMW 335i, but all other runs were in the low 67-mph range, which is likely more representative of the C's ability.
Testing Conditions
Elevation (ft.)421
Temperature (F)61.1
Wind (mph, direction)2
Fuel Consumption
EPA fuel economy (mpg)18 city/27 highway (est.)
Edmunds observed (mpg)20.6
Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.)17.4
Dimensions & Capacities
Curb weight, mfr. claim (lbs.)3,498
Curb weight, as tested (lbs.)3,588
Weight distribution, as tested, f/r (%)53/47
Length (in.)182.3
Width (in.)59.7
Height (in.)56.3
Wheelbase (in.)108.7
Legroom, front (in.)41.7
Legroom, rear (in.)33.4
Headroom, front (in.)37.1
Headroom, rear (in.)36.9
Seating capacity5
Cargo volume (cu-ft)16.8 (VDA method) 12.5 est. (SAE method)
Max. cargo volume, seats folded (cu-ft)Folding seats are optional; no data given
Warranty
Bumper-to-bumper4 years/50,000 miles
Powertrain4 years/50,000 miles
Corrosion4 years/50,000 miles
Roadside assistanceUnlimited
Free scheduled maintenanceNot available
Safety
Front airbagsStandard
Side airbagsStandard dual front
Head airbagsStandard front and rear
Antilock brakes4-wheel ABS
Electronic brake enhancementsElectronic brakeforce distribution, brake assist, hill-start assist, brake drying
Traction controlStandard
Stability controlStandard
Rollover protectionNot available
Emergency assistance systemOptional
NHTSA crash test, driverNot available
NHTSA crash test, passengerNot available
NHTSA crash test, side frontNot available
NHTSA crash test, side rearNot available
NHTSA rollover resistanceNot available
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