2012 Audi A4 vs. 2012 BMW 328i vs. 2012 Mercedes-Benz C250 Comparison Test

2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sedan

(1.8L 4-cyl. Turbo 7-speed Automatic)
  • 2012 BMW 328i Picture

    2012 BMW 328i Picture

    Good cars, every one. | March 09, 2012

68 Photos

  • Comparison Test
  • 2012 BMW 328i Specs and Performance
  • 2012 Audi A4 Specs and Performance
  • 2012 Mercedes-Benz C250 Sport Specs and Performance

It is with a keenly self-aware fear of apostasy that BMW has declined to fit its brand-defining inline-6 engine to the 2012 BMW 328i and instead has substituted a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine.

This sea change aligns the entry-level version of the 3 Series with its four-cylinder competitors, the 2012 Audi A4 and 2012 Mercedes-Benz C250. But in light of BMW's rich tradition of inline-6 engines and its loyal following of customers, is this new four-cylinder really progress?

This test aims to find out.

BMW's fear is justified. These are all very good cars. After two weeks, hundreds of miles of side-by-side driving and one day of track testing, a clear winner had yet to emerge. The new 2012 BMW 328i wasn't walking away from its competition, as have so many 3 Series models in past Inside Line comparison tests.

After all, here we've got an Audi that's clearly the BMW's better when it comes to measured evaluations of handling, while the distinctly well-built Mercedes-Benz strikes an attractive balance between efficiency and luxury. So we drove on, dug deep into our quiver of hair-splitting tools and began to tally the notes.

$50,000 Is the New $40,000
It is perhaps a sign of more than simple inflation that we can remember when coughing up $15,000 for an Audi 4000 seemed outrageous. Regardless, what we have here are three entry-level luxury sedans with base prices all starting at about $35,000. It's ironic that the Audi, which comes standard with all-wheel drive and provides the most sophisticated suspension configuration in the group, offers the lowest base price.

But don't mistake these base prices for what you'll actually pay. The cost goes up very quickly from there — way up. In fact, this entry-level 3 Series has been equipped as a showcase of BMW options, so our 328i tester tips the scales at a wage-crushing $50,745. Of course this fee includes some stupendous options, the most costly of which is the $3,600 Premium package. Also, there's the $2,550 Technology package and $2,500 Sport Line trim.

Audi's A4 is the next most expensive car here, although its $45,675 bottom line is $5,070 less costly than the Bimmer. It also packs big-dollar options. The costliest is the $9,500 Prestige package, which hits home with goodies like MMI navigation, the Convenience package, heated front seats and a Bang & Olufsen premium audio system.

The 2012 Mercedes C250 is marginally more costly than the A4 at $45,900 including the Premium and Multimedia packages.

The Economy/Power Compromise
The ever-tightening noose of Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) is no doubt responsible for shanghaiing two cylinders from this most established BMW model. The return is there, however, with EPA numbers offering a 5-mpg increase in combined fuel economy for the turbo-4 versus a normally aspirated inline-6 (27 mpg vs. 22 mpg).

What's more, BMW's turbocharged, direct-injected 2.0-liter inline-4 is rated at 240 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque, which amounts to 10 hp and 55 lb-ft more than last year's normally aspirated 3.0-liter inline-6. Our tester was fitted with the standard six-speed manual transmission. (An eight-speed automatic is a zero-cost option unless you opt for paddle shifters, which add $475.)

But BMW isn't alone in introducing a four-cylinder power plant to this segment of premium sedans. The 2012 Mercedes-Benz C250 is an all-new model created specifically to sip fuel in the most cost-effective way possible, even while surrounding its occupants in luxury. The Benz approach to this four is similar in concept to BMW, and this turbocharged, direct-injected 1.8-liter inline-4 cranks out 201 hp and 229 lb-ft of torque. Only one transmission is available: a seven-speed automatic. The mix yields a 25-mpg combined rating from the EPA.

The 2012 Audi A4 has embraced four-cylinder power since the 1997 model, although this 2012 iteration utilizes turbocharging and direct fuel injection to produce 211 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque from a 2.0-liter four. Choose either the six-speed manual transmission — as in our tester — or the eight-speed automatic (a $1,300 premium) and you'll get all-wheel drive as standard equipment. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) is available in front-drive models only. Six-speed shift-it-yourself A4s — like our test car — are rated at 25 mpg EPA combined.

Accelerate, Turn
Nobody is buying the four-cylinder version of these cars for drag racing, but there's a reason you skipped directly to this section of the copy, isn't there? We'll make this simple: When it comes to drag racing, the right physics will win. And so does the 328i.

At 3,427 pounds the BMW is 98 pounds lighter than the C250 and 235 pounds lighter than the A4. Combine these stats with a power advantage and the BMW is easily the quickest car here in a straight line. Even with the advantage of all-wheel drive during the launch, the A4 couldn't hold its edge in getaway quickness all the way to 60 mph.

The 2012 BMW 328i sweeps both straight-line tests by hitting 60 mph in 5.9 seconds (5.5 seconds using a 1-foot rollout like on a drag strip) and passing through the quarter-mile in 14.1 seconds at 98.9 mph. The A4 is marginally slower to 60 mph at 6.2 seconds (5.9 seconds with rollout) and is a half-second back at the quarter-mile with an effort of 14.6 seconds at 94.1 mph. The Benz, hampered by its automatic transmission off the line, is slowest. Sixty mph arrives in 7.3 seconds (6.9 seconds with rollout) with all 1,320 feet passing in 15.3 seconds at 90.7 mph.

It won't surprise anyone to know that the slowest car in the group earns the best fuel economy. The C250's 24.7 mpg came during 680 miles of mixed driving, but the 328i wasn't far behind at 23.6 mpg over 1,455 miles. At 21.6 mpg over 684 miles, the all-wheel-drive Audi isn't as miserly.

Objective handling tests, though, fall largely in favor of the Audi, which has the quickest slalom speed at 69.2 mph and best lateral acceleration at 0.92g. As different as the BMW and Mercedes-Benz might seem in concept, the 328i and C250 were much the same in these tests. The BMW recorded 66.7 mph in the slalom while the Benz reached 66.2 mph, and both pulled 0.88g around the skid pad.

The Audi's superior grip showed itself again in our braking test, where it stopped from 60 mph in only 108 feet. The C250 and 328i recorded stops only 4 feet and 7 feet longer, respectively.

Inside the Cabins
With a 2-inch stretch, the wheelbase of the BMW 3 Series now measures 110.6 inches. This now gives the BMW parity with the Audi A4, which increased the length of its all-wheel-drive platform in 2009 in an effort to achieve handling dynamics more like a rear-wheel-drive car.

The 2012 Mercedes-Benz C250 has a wheelbase of 108.7 inches, and while the 1.9-inch difference hardly makes this car small, it does translate into about an inch less rear legroom. If you're of average build, you'll have no trouble finding room in the back of the Benz. But if your vertical dimension pushes the 6-foot mark, the missing inch will make a difference on longer trips. Also, the Benz offers the least headroom in the group by about a half inch.

But the best interior in this group is not determined by space alone. By our estimation, the honor falls squarely to the Audi. Credit for this accomplishment goes to the S line Plus option package, which adds faux suede to the A4's standard leather on most critical seating surfaces. There are also brushed aluminum inlays and a black cloth headliner.

When it comes to the interface for the cabin's electronic comfort and convenience features, the Audi gives up its leadership, as MMI is awkward to use relative to both BMW's iDrive and Mercedes' COMAND systems. All three systems integrate navigation, phone and audio controls into a menu-based knob-and-button interface, but Audi's system is less elegant and integrated in its design than the others.

Character Counts
Perhaps the most defining trait of the Mercedes-Benz C250 is the simple, honest way it goes about every task. This sense of overbuilt purpose is a kind of DNA trickle-down from the small Benz's larger, heavier brethren, the E-Class and S-Class. Although the C-Class lacks the cruise-missile speed of those bigger cars, it delivers the same carefully controlled body motions when you're behind the wheel. The Benz also wins the timeless contest in door-slam quality with a heavily damped thud that sounds like Play Doh landing on bedrock.

Of course, the downside to bedrock solidity is, in this case, a less engaging driving character. There's less athleticism in the C250 than either of the other cars, although the problem isn't so much the chassis as the powertrain. The automatic transmission is slow to respond and no complement to the least powerful engine in this group. A downshift, which requires a lateral slap of the shift lever on the console, slurs between gears with a throttle blip that's only marginally effective in speeding the process.

The A4, which is the most controlled car here when tossed around, is downright snappy by comparison. There's less body roll, speedy response from the steering wheel and the most trusted and effective brake pedal in the group. Of course, you can forget about adjustments in cornering attitude from the chassis when you're in the middle of the corner, but these matter less when the other cars are already dots in the rearview mirror.

The BMW doesn't inspire you to attack any back roads, but it offers a prudent degree of mountain-road-handling prowess to complement BMW's classic formula for all-around success. The new electrically assisted steering isn't communicative on a granular level, but it isn't going to repel anyone either. The interior provides the same familiar feel of a recent-generation 3 Series with a touch of updating, and to our eyes the exterior styling easily makes it the best-looking car here.

It's All Relative
It's the subjective, touchy-feely part of any comparison test that's always the hardest to assess. We have to ask why the Audi handles best and if the Benz's anvil-like solidity is important. Such details ultimately define a car's character and then earn brand loyalty. We think they're important.

So you should know, then, that part of the reason the Audi handles the best is because it's fitted with the widest, stickiest tires wrapped around the biggest, heaviest wheels. This is a product of the same optional S line Plus package that gives the A4 the interior detailing we love. The A4 is decidedly the most sporty-feeling sedan in the group as a result. And by "sporty feeling" we mean stiff, because the car's ride quality is compromised by this setup.

Audi Drive Select, a $2,950 option, would have mitigated the impact of the big wheels and tires by tuning the throttle action, steering assist and damper action to suit different driving circumstances, but it wasn't a part of this A4's option package. The C250 also could have benefited from the optional $1,530 Dynamic Handling package, which adds adjustable dampers and a variable steering ratio to the C-Class, but it wasn't fitted to our test car.

Meanwhile, the 328i included Driving Dynamics Control, BMW's own electronic overseer of throttle, steering and damping, and the optional adjustable dampers of the Adaptive M suspension certainly helped this 3 Series be all things to all people. No matter where we drove the BMW, we liked the experience, even if the car might have lacked a little something compared to either the Audi or Mercedes.

The Winner
That we're giving the win in this contest to the 2012 BMW 328i is a product of its do-all abilities. The victory, though, comes with the caveat that your needs might demand other priorities better served by the supremely good Audi or Benz.

All-weather ability, for example, might be necessary. If we lived in Colorado, we'd buy the 2012 Audi A4 and ditch the 19-inch wheels and tires in favor of a choice with lighter wheels and better-riding rubber. Or perhaps you're a sucker for the well-built refinement of the 2012 Mercedes-Benz C250, and we wouldn't fault you for your choice even if we might beat you to the next stoplight in the BMW.

Truth is, you won't go wrong with any of these cars.

Thanks to its options-gone-wild approach, this BMW 328i punches through the $50,000 barrier, which isn't something we take lightly in this segment. Still, we could option this car with more restraint and keep it competitive with the A4 and C250, and yet still lop nearly $6 grand from its sticker price. So equipped, the BMW 328i would still offer the ability to morph between agreeable freeway cruiser, efficient commuter and reasonably capable back-road companion better than its competition. It's this resourcefulness in combination with enduring quality that makes the 2012 BMW 328i so profoundly effective in this segment.

And that's the case even when it's absent two historically important cylinders.

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

Vehicle
Model year2012
MakeBMW
Model328i
Year Make Model2012 BMW 3 Series 328i 4dr Sedan (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
Vehicle TypeRWD 4dr 5-passenger Sedan
Base MSRP$35,795
Options on test vehicleMelbourne Red Metallic Paint ($550), Premium Package ($3,600 -- includes universal garage door opener, keyless ignition, power moonroof, auto-dimming interior and exterior mirrors; power front seats with lumbar support and driver seat memory and Dakota leather upholstery); Technology Package ($2,550 -- includes hard drive-based navigation system, real-time traffic information, voice-activation capability; head-up display); Sport Line ($2,500 -- inlcudes sports leather steering wheel, 18-by-8-inch double-spoke (style 397) light alloy wheels with 225/45R18 tires, black mirror caps, sport seats, sport suspension, Anthracite headliner, Sport Line aesthetic elements and increased top speed limiter); Cold Weather Package ($1,350 -- includes heated steering wheel, split fold-down rear seat, three-stage heated front seats, multilevel heated rear seats and retractable headlight washers); Premium Sound Package ($950 -- includes Sirius Satellite Radio with 1-year subscription, Harman Kardon surround sound system with 420-watt amplifier and 13 speakers); Xenon Headlights ($900 -- xenon high-intensity-discharge (HID) high- and low beam headlights with auto-leveling, adaptive light control and automatic high beams); Adaptive M Suspension ($900 -- includes electronically controlled dampers); Park Distance Control ($750 -- includes front and rear sonar); BMW Assist With Enhanced BT & USB ($650 -- BMW Assist; 4-year subscription to BMW Assist Safety Services; Bluetooth wireless technology); BMW Apps ($250 -- BMW Apps allows an iPhone to access the BMW Connected app and certified third-party apps).
As-tested MSRP$50,745
Assembly locationMunich, Germany
North American parts content (%)5
Drivetrain
ConfigurationLongitudinal, front-engine, rear-wheel drive
Engine typeTurbocharged, direct-injected, inline-4 with auto-stop/start
Displacement (cc/cu-in)1,997/122
Block/head materialAluminum/aluminum
ValvetrainDOHC, 4 valves per cylinder, variable intake- and exhaust-valve timing, variable intake-valve lift
Compression ratio (x:1)10.0
Redline, indicated (rpm)7,000
Fuel cutoff/rev limiter (rpm)7,200
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)240 @ 5,000
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)255 @ 1,250-4,800
Fuel typePremium unleaded (required)
Transmission typeSix-speed manual
Transmission ratios (x:1)I = 3.683, II = 2.062, III = 1.313, IV = 1.000, V = 0.809, VI = 0.677, R = 3.348
Final-drive ratio (x:1)3.909
Chassis
Suspension, frontIndependent MacPherson struts with dual lower ball joints, coil springs, driver-adjustable two-mode variable twin-tube dampers, stabilizer bar
Suspension, rearIndependent multilink, coil springs, driver-adjustable two-mode variable twin-tube dampers, stabilizer bar
Steering typeElectric-assist, speed-proportional, rack-and-pinion power steering
Steering ratio (x:1)15.1
Tire make and modelGoodyear EfficientGrip
Tire typeAsymmetrical summer, run-flat (32 psi cold front; 35 psi cold rear)
Tire size225/45R18 91V
Wheel size18-by-8-inches front and rear
Wheel materialCast aluminum alloy
Brakes, front12.3-by-0.9-inch ventilated disc with single-piston sliding calipers
Brakes, rear11.8-by-0.8-inch ventilated disc with single-piston sliding calipers
Track Test Results
Acceleration, 0-30 mph (sec.)2.1
0-45 mph (sec.)3.9
0-60 mph (sec.)5.9
0-75 mph (sec.)8.6
1/4-mile (sec. @ mph)14.1 @ 98.9
0-60 with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)5.5
0-30 mph, trac ON (sec.)2.7
0-45 mph, trac ON (sec.)4.8
0-60 mph, trac ON (sec.)6.7
0-75 mph, trac ON (sec.)9.5
1/4-mile, trac ON (sec. @ mph)14.8 @ 97.8
0-60, trac ON with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)6.3
Braking, 30-0 mph (ft.)28
60-0 mph (ft.)115
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph)66.7
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph) ESC ON67.1
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g)0.88
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g) ESC ON0.86
Sound level @ idle (dB)41.6
@ Full throttle (dB)73.9
@ 70 mph cruise (dB)65.6
Engine speed @ 70 mph (rpm)2,400
Test Driver Ratings & Comments
Acceleration commentsRev-limited to 3,800 with ESC on; no limit (below redline) when it's off. Seems relatively indifferent to launch technique -- only a few hundredths of a second separate clutch dump from careful modulation by 60 mph. Shifter is less likable when rushed in this environment. Engine is done at 6,500.
Braking commentsConfident pedal every stop, but fade (+6 feet) present. Not the best braking in the segment.
Handling commentsSkid pad: Heavy steering with quite good communication at the limit. More body roll than expected makes sensing grip limits more difficult. Still, good balance. Adjustable, but slower to respond than I'd prefer. Slalom: Ample body roll makes quick transitions feel awkward. Even so, limits are reasonably well defined. Excellent ESC produces quickest slalom time by 0.01 second.
Testing Conditions
Test date2/9/2012
Test locationCalifornia Speedway
Elevation (ft.)1,121
Temperature (F)79.1
Relative humidity (%)16.9
Barometric pressure (in. Hg)28.89
Wind (mph, direction)5.1, headwind
Odometer (mi.)2,141
Fuel used for test91-octane gasoline
As-tested tire pressures, f/r (psi)32/35
Fuel Consumption
EPA fuel economy (mpg)23 city/34 highway/27 combined
Edmunds observed (mpg)23.6
Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.)15.8
Driving range (mi.)537.2
Audio and Advanced Technology
Stereo descriptionAM/FM/CD/DVD Harman Kardon surround-sound system with vehicle-specific equalization, 420-watt amplifier and 13 speakers (4 tweeters, 7 midrange and 2 bass)
iPod/digital media compatibilityStandard USB input, optional iPhone integration (with docking station) and BMW Apps support
Satellite radioStandard Sirius, 1-year subscription
Bluetooth phone connectivityStandard hands-free phone capability, optional streaming music capability
Navigation systemOptional
Telematics (OnStar, etc.)Optional BMW Assist
Smart entry/StartOptional
Parking aidsOptional front and rear sonar (equipped on test car); optional back-up camera (not equipped)
Driver coaching displayStandard
Dimensions & Capacities
Curb weight, mfr. claim (lbs.)3,406
Curb weight, as tested (lbs.)3,427
Weight distribution, as tested, f/r (%)49.6/50.4
Length (in.)182.5
Width (in.)71.3
Height (in.)56.3
Wheelbase (in.)110.6
Track, front (in.)60.3
Track, rear (in.)61.9
Turning circle (ft.)37.0
Legroom, front (in.)42.0
Legroom, rear (in.)35.1
Headroom, front (in.)40.3
Headroom, rear (in.)37.7
Seating capacity5
Trunk volume (cu-ft)17
GVWR (lbs.)4,409
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
Vehicle
Model year2012
MakeAudi
ModelA4
Year Make Model2012 Audi A4 2.0T Premium quattro 4dr Sedan AWD (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6M)
Vehicle TypeAWD 4dr 5-passenger Sedan
Base MSRP$34,175
Options on test vehicleIbis White; Prestige Package ($9,500 -- includes 18-by-8-inch 10-spoke design wheels with 245/40 all-season tires; auto-dimming interior mirror with compass; auto-dimming and heated exterior mirrors; Audi music interface with USB port and iPod cable; Bluetooth hands-free phone interface; Homelink universal garage door opener; driver information system with trip computer; heated front seats with driver memory; S line emblems on front fenders and door sills; S line front, side and rear valances; split-folding rear seatback; Style package with self-leveling xenon headlights with LED daytime running lamps and LED taillights; aluminum window surrounds and polished exhaust finishers; three-zone automatic climate control; trunk storage package; Audi adaptive light; Audi advance key that can lock or unlock and start the vehicle without the need to remove the key from a pocket or purse. When the key is present, doors can be unlocked, the steering wheel can be released and the vehicle can be turned on without inserting the key into the ignition; Audi MMI HDD navigation system with voice control; color driver information system; MMI "high" control panel; 7-inch full-color LCD screen; 40GB hard drive and an nVidia processor with 3-D topography graphics; SiriusXM Satellite Radio with SiriusXM Traffic and 3-month subscription; Audi side assist; 505-watt Bang & Olufsen premium sound system with 14 speakers; rear acoustic parking sensors with back-up camera prep); S Line Plus Package ($1,250 -- includes S line embossed Alcantara and leather seats; 19-by-8.5-inch Titanium five-arm rotor design wheels with 255/35 summer tires; brushed aluminum decorative interior inlays on the center console, doors and dashboard; black cloth headliner; black-Optic exterior kit with gloss black grille surround and matte black window surrounds); Sport Package ($750 -- includes front sport seats with four-way power lumbar, three-spoke steering wheel, sport suspension with 20mm lowered ride height)
As-tested MSRP$45,675
Assembly locationIngolstadt, Germany
North American parts content (%)1
Drivetrain
ConfigurationLongitudinal, front-engine, all-wheel drive
Engine typeInline-4
Displacement (cc/cu-in)1,984/121
Block/head materialIron/aluminum
ValvetrainDouble overhead camshaft
Compression ratio (x:1)9.6
Redline, indicated (rpm)6,700
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)211 @ 4,300
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)258 @ 1,500
Fuel typePremium unleaded (required)
Transmission typeSix-speed manual
Transmission ratios (x:1)I=3.778. II=2.050, III=1.321, IV=0.970, V=0.811, VI=0.692
Final-drive ratio (x:1)3.693
Chassis
Suspension, frontIndependent, five-link with upper and lower control arms, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Suspension, rearIndependent multilink, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Steering typeElectric speed-proportional power steering
Steering ratio (x:1)16.3
Tire make and modelContinental ContiSportContact
Tire typeAsymmetrical summer
Tire size, front255/35ZR19
Tire size, rear255/35ZR19
Wheel size19-by-8.5 inches front and rear
Wheel materialAlloy
Brakes, front12.6-inch one-piece ventilated steel discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Brakes, rear11.8-inch one-piece ventilated steel discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Track Test Results
Acceleration, 0-30 mph (sec.)2.1
0-45 mph (sec.)4.2
0-60 mph (sec.)6.2
0-75 mph (sec.)9.5
1/4-mile (sec. @ mph)14.6 @ 94.1
0-60 with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)5.9
0-30 mph, trac ON (sec.)2.4
0-45 mph, trac ON (sec.)4.5
0-60 mph, trac ON (sec.)6.6
0-75 mph, trac ON (sec.)10.0
1/4-mile, trac ON (sec. @ mph)14.8 @ 93.8
0-60, trac ON with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)6.2
Braking, 30-0 mph (ft.)27
60-0 mph (ft.)108
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph)69.2
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph) ESC ON68.5
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g)0.92
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g) ESC ON0.92
Sound level @ idle (dB)44.1
@ Full throttle (dB)70.5
@ 70 mph cruise (dB)63.9
Engine speed @ 70 mph (rpm)2,250
Test Driver Ratings & Comments
Acceleration commentsNever felt like I got a great launch, but the 0-60 time is quicker than Audi estimates for this car. Feel like there's some mechanical (clutch damper?) demons serving to protect the A4's drivetrain from this kind of behavior. Once under way, the power deficit vs. the BMW is obvious. Also, like the 328i, the engine is done revving by 6,000 rpm.
Braking commentsBest brake feel and performance in the group. Solid, consistent pedal. Short stops.
Handling commentsSkid pad: This car's tire advantage is obvious in our handling tests. Despite heavy, non-adjustable understeer at the limit, it sticks at 0.92g., which is serious for any sport sedan. Slalom: Being stiffly sprung and possessing ample roll stiffness genuinely helps the A4 in rapid transitions. Its understeering attitude is also predictably quick here.
Testing Conditions
Test date2/9/2012
Test locationCalifornia Speedway
Elevation (ft.)1,121
Temperature (F)80.1
Relative humidity (%)14.5
Barometric pressure (in. Hg)28.9
Wind (mph, direction)5.75 headwind
Odometer (mi.)4,879
Fuel used for test91 octane
As-tested tire pressures, f/r (psi)38/42
Fuel Consumption
EPA fuel economy (mpg)21 city/31 highway/25 combined
Edmunds observed (mpg)21.6
Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.)16.9
Driving range (mi.)523.9
Audio and Advanced Technology
Stereo descriptionBang & Olufsen 505-watt premium audio system, SD card slot, MP3 capability, CD player and auxiliary input for easy access to a variety of music devices. Radio Data System (RDS) with SiriusXM Satellite Radio. With the 3-month trial subscription to the Sirius Select package.
iPod/digital media compatibilityStandard iPod via proprietary cable
Satellite radioStandard Sirius
Hard-drive music storage capacity (Gb)Optional 32GB music storage capacity
Bluetooth phone connectivityStandard
Navigation systemOptional hard drive 6.5-inch display screen (measured diagonally)
Smart entry/StartOptional ignition doors trunk/hatch
Parking aidsOptional parking sonar rear back-up camera
Dimensions & Capacities
Curb weight, mfr. claim (lbs.)3,616
Curb weight, as tested (lbs.)3,662
Weight distribution, as tested, f/r (%)54/46
Length (in.)185.2
Width (in.)72.0
Height (in.)56.2
Wheelbase (in.)110.6
Track, front (in.)61.6
Track, rear (in.)61.1
Turning circle (ft.)37.4
Legroom, front (in.)41.3
Legroom, rear (in.)35.2
Headroom, front (in.)40.0
Headroom, rear (in.)37.5
Shoulder room, front (in.)55.5
Shoulder room, rear (in.)54.3
Seating capacity5
Step-in height, measured (in.)14.3
Trunk volume (cu-ft)12.4
behind 2nd row (cu-ft)36.5
Cargo loading height, measured (in.)25.1
Warranty
Bumper-to-bumper4 years/50,000 miles
Powertrain4 years/50,000 miles
Corrosion12 years/Unlimited miles
Roadside assistance4 years/Unlimited miles
Free scheduled maintenance1 year/5,000 miles
Vehicle
Model year2012
MakeMercedes-Benz
ModelC250 Sport
Year Make Model2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class C250 Sport 4dr Sedan (1.8L 4cyl Turbo 7A)
Vehicle TypeRWD 4dr 5-passenger Sedan
Base MSRP$35,675
Options on test vehicleBurl Walnut ($325), Multimedia Package ($2,790 -- includes rearview camera; voice control; COMAND system with hard drive navigation and 7-inch LCD screen with 3D map views; Gracenote album information including album cover art and 10GB music register; in-dash 6-DVD/CD changer and SD card slot; SiriusXM Traffic and Weather), Premium 1 Package ($2,500 -- includes four-way power lumbar support; iPod/MP3 media interface; driver seat memory and power steering column; split-folding rear seats; SiriusXM satellite radio with 6-month service; Harman Kardon surround system; heated front seats), Panorama Sunroof ($1,090), Parktronic With Parking Guidance ($970 -- includes front and rear parking sensors; steering instructions to help guide the vehicle into a parking spot), Lane Tracking Package ($850 -- includes Blind Spot Assist; Lane Keeping Assist), mbrace ($660), Sport Package ($0 -- includes sport suspension, sport body styling, Sport package, Avantgarde line), 18-Inch AMG Wheels ($1,040).
As-tested MSRP$45,900
Drivetrain
ConfigurationLongitudinal, front-engine, rear-wheel drive
Engine typeTurbocharged, direct-injected inline-4
Displacement (cc/cu-in)1,796/110
Block/head materialAluminum/aluminum
ValvetrainDouble overhead camshaft
Compression ratio (x:1)9.3
Redline, indicated (rpm)6,450
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)201 @ 5,500
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)229 @ 2,200
Fuel typePremium unleaded (required)
Transmission typeSeven-speed automatic
Transmission ratios (x:1)I=4.38, II=2.86, III=1.92, IV=1.37, V=1.0, VI=0.82, VII=0.73
Final-drive ratio (x:1)3.07
Chassis
Suspension, frontIndependent MacPherson struts, coil springs, dual lower control arms, stabilizer bar
Suspension, rearIndependent multilink, coil springs, stabilizer bar
Steering typeSpeed-proportional power steering
Tire make and modelContinental ContiSportContact 3
Tire typeAsymmetrical summer
Tire size, front225/40ZR18
Tire size, rear255/35ZR18
Wheel size18-by-8.5 inches front -- 18-by-9 inches rear
Wheel materialAlloy
Brakes, front11.6-inch one-piece ventilated cast-iron discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Brakes, rear11.8-inch one-piece ventilated cast-iron discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Track Test Results
Acceleration, 0-30 mph (sec.)2.6
0-45 mph (sec.)4.6
0-60 mph (sec.)7.3
0-75 mph (sec.)10.5
1/4-mile (sec. @ mph)15.3 @ 90.7
0-60 with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)6.9
0-30 mph, trac ON (sec.)3.0
0-45 mph, trac ON (sec.)5.0
0-60 mph, trac ON (sec.)7.7
0-75 mph, trac ON (sec.)10.9
1/4-mile, trac ON (sec. @ mph)15.5 @ 91.0
0-60, trac ON with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)7.2
Braking, 30-0 mph (ft.)28
60-0 mph (ft.)112
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph)66.2
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph) ESC ON64.3
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g)0.88
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g) ESC ON0.87
Sound level @ idle (dB)45.2
@ Full throttle (dB)72.3
@ 70 mph cruise (dB)61.8
Engine speed @ 70 mph (rpm)2,400
Test Driver Ratings & Comments
Acceleration commentsOnce on boost the C250's acceleration is adequate, but it still lacks the punch of the Audi and BMW. Also, the transmission feels behind the times. No paddles. No rev matching. Not good.
Braking commentsGood feel and performance (beats 328i). Also, more consistent than BMW.
Handling commentsNon-defeat ESC makes its presence known in both tests. Steering doesn't build confidence as limits approach. Balance, too, isn't spectacular around skid pad. Slalom: Snakes between the cones with good stability (thanks, ESC), but doesn't inspire me to push harder once ESC activates. Safe and consiststent and easy, but less "sports" sedan than the others.
Testing Conditions
Test date2/9/2012
Test locationCalifornia Speedway
Elevation (ft.)1,121
Temperature (F)80.9
Relative humidity (%)14.3
Barometric pressure (in. Hg)28.9
Wind (mph, direction)6.62 Head/cross
Odometer (mi.)7,273
Fuel used for test91 octane
As-tested tire pressures, f/r (psi)33/41
As-tested ballasted trailer weight (lbs.)3,525
Fuel Consumption
EPA fuel economy (mpg)21 city/31 highway/25 combined
Edmunds observed (mpg)24.7
Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.)17.4
Driving range (mi.)539.4
Audio and Advanced Technology
Stereo descriptionAudio system with six-disc in-dash CD changer, 10GB hard drive for music storage, in-dash SD memory card, SiriusXM traffic and weather, USB port, Bluetooth audio streaming and HD radio
iPod/digital media compatibilityStandard iPod via USB jack
Satellite radioOptional Sirius
Hard-drive music storage capacity (Gb)Optional 10GB music storage capacity
Bluetooth phone connectivityStandard
Navigation systemOptional hard Drive with traffic 7.0-inch display screen (measured diagonally)
Telematics (OnStar, etc.)Optional m brace
Lane-departure monitoringOptional lane tracking package
Dimensions & Capacities
Curb weight, mfr. claim (lbs.)3,428
Curb weight, as tested (lbs.)3,525
Weight distribution, as tested, f/r (%)52/48
Length (in.)180.8
Width (in.)69.7
Height (in.)56.3
Wheelbase (in.)108.7
Track, front (in.)60.4
Track, rear (in.)59.6
Turning circle (ft.)35.3
Legroom, front (in.)41.7
Legroom, rear (in.)33.4
Headroom, front (in.)37.1
Headroom, rear (in.)36.9
Shoulder room, front (in.)54.7
Shoulder room, rear (in.)55.0
Seating capacity5
Step-in height, measured (in.)15.0
Trunk volume (cu-ft)12.4
GVWR (lbs.)4,453
Ground clearance (in.)4.1
Warranty
Bumper-to-bumper4 years/50,000 miles
Powertrain4 years/50,000 miles
Corrosion4 years/50,000 miles
Roadside assistanceUnlimited
Free scheduled maintenance3,000 miles
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Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class in VA is:

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