2008 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Review

Type:

Pros & Cons

  • Distinct sport- and luxury-oriented models, responsive steering, stable handling, smooth ride quality, impressive Multimedia package, intuitive COMAND controller, excellent build quality.
  • Carryover engines not quite up to competitors' power levels, well-crafted interior is a bit austere and not very spacious, no manual transmission available on C350.
List Price Range
$6,500 - $11,499

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Within the ultra-competitive segment of entry-level luxury performance sedans, the 2008 Mercedes-Benz C-Class hits the bull's-eye several times with only a few misses.

Vehicle overview

Since the Mercedes-Benz C-Class' last full redesign in 2001, the entry-level luxury sedan landscape has changed dramatically. Newer models have been offering ever higher levels of creature comforts and driving excitement. As such, Mercedes' entry-level car has been at an increasing disadvantage, with its small backseat, uninspiring handling and ordinary cabin furnishings being the notable drawbacks. American consumers would seem to agree, with the C-Class' archnemesis, the BMW 3 Series, outselling the C-Class by a considerable margin last year.

Mercedes-Benz's cavalry arrives this year in the form of the fully redesigned 2008 C-Class. It's meant to address many of the previous car's faults. The wheelbase has been stretched slightly, improving interior space, especially in the rear seat. It's not a massive gain, but the resulting cabin is certainly larger and feels airier than it did before. The C-Class interior also benefits from new features, including a very impressive optional hard-drive-based navigation and surround-sound audio system, along with a much-improved version of the COMAND interface.

As before, there are Sport and Luxury trim levels, but this year Mercedes has put in extra effort to make the trims more distinctive. The C300 and C350 Sport models feature more aggressive exterior styling and suspension tuning than the classically styled C300 Luxury. Inside, this sort of differentiation continues, with the materials and overall ambience tailored specifically to each version.

Underneath, the C-Class' basic suspension design is the same as the previous model, but the components are lighter for improved handling and ride comfort. Steering feel and quickness have also been noticeably improved. Thankfully, high-speed stability and a comfortable ride, qualities always associated with Mercedes-Benz, are still intact.

Mercedes-Benz has chosen to carry over last year's V6 engines and will again offer all-wheel drive. Notably, there will be a new AMG model coming out in the spring or summer of calendar-year 2008. It features a 6.2-liter V8 and the usual high-performance modifications to improve handling and braking.

Overall, the new 2008 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is a welcome improvement. The distinct Luxury and Sport trims should help attract a wide array of new and traditional buyers, while the interior is now fully up to date in terms of features and design. Plus, the 457-horsepower C63 AMG is bound to give the vaunted M3 a serious run for its money. However, the C-Class still exists in an incredibly competitive segment. Audi, BMW, Infiniti and Lexus (among others) offer very good luxury performance sedans, which are often less expensive and more powerful than a comparatively equipped Benz. All of these cars deserve a long look, but with its mix of driving involvement, comfort and high-tech goodies, the all-new C-Class is a fine choice for an entry-luxury sedan.

2008 Mercedes-Benz C-Class models

The 2008 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is an entry-level luxury sedan available in five trim levels. The C300 Luxury and C300 Sport share the same engine, but differ in exterior styling elements, interior trim, front seat design and standard transmission. Both C300 trims' standard equipment includes 17-inch wheels, a sunroof, eight-way power front seats, a tilt-telescoping steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, MB-Tex cloth upholstery, the COMAND control interface with a pop-up display screen, Bluetooth connectivity and a CD stereo with an auxiliary audio jack. The C300 4Matic Luxury and C300 4Matic Sport trim levels feature exactly the same features but add all-wheel drive.

All C300s can be equipped with the Premium I Package that adds rain-sensing wipers, auto-dimming mirrors, heated front seats and satellite radio. In terms of standard equipment, the C350 Sport is essentially a C300 Sport with the Premium I Package and black bird's-eye maple wood interior trim.

Options available on all five C-Class trim levels are the Premium II Package that adds split-folding rear seats, a power rear window sunshade and bi-xenon headlamps. The Multimedia Package includes a hard-drive-based navigation system, voice controls and a premium Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system that adds an in-dash six-CD changer. Stand-alone options include leather upholstery, a panorama sunroof, TeleAid satellite communications, 18-inch wheels, an iPod integration kit and the in-dash CD changer.

2008 Highlights

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan has been completely redesigned for 2008. With the exception of its two available engines and three-pointed star, everything is new and improved. There are also more standard features this year. An all-new C63 AMG model debuts later in the model year.

Performance & mpg

All 2008 C300 models are powered by a 3.0-liter V6 that produces 228 hp and 221 pound-feet of torque. A seven-speed automatic is standard on the C300 Luxury and optional on the C300 Sport, which comes with a six-speed manual. Mercedes estimates a 0-60-mph time of around 7 seconds. All C-Class models come standard with rear-wheel drive except for the C300 4Matics, which are all-wheel-drive.

The C350 Sport is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 268 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. The seven-speed automatic is the only transmission choice. In track testing, we clocked the C350 from zero to 60 mph in 6.2 seconds, which is certainly quick, but unremarkable compared to the BMW 335i and Infiniti G35. Mercedes estimates fuel economy to be 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway for the C350 and 18/25 mpg for a rear-drive C300 with an automatic transmission.

Safety

The 2008 Mercedes-Benz C-Class comes with a full load of standard safety equipment, including front side airbags, full-length curtain airbags, active front head restraints, stability control, traction control and adaptive antilock brakes that feature brake assist, brake drying, pre-pressure and hill-start assist.

Driving

In a straight line, the new 2008 Mercedes-Benz C300 and C350 are no quicker than the cars they replace. However, the C-Class' substantially revised chassis has dramatically improved the steering's precision and feel. There's now useful information channeled through the chunky steering wheel. In terms of overall dynamics, this C-Class comes closer to the vaunted BMW 3 Series than ever before. Despite its sportier character, the C-Class is never harsh on the road, and gobbles up miles of freeway with aplomb. The C300 Luxury rides a little softer than the Sport versions and has a quieter exhaust system, resulting in a more serene driving environment.

Read our 2008 Mercedes-Benz C300 Long-Term 20,000-Mile Test

Interior

Although beautifully crafted, the C-Class cabin can come off as a little austere and a bit bland. The previous and awkward-to-use version of Mercedes' COMAND system has been replaced by a smart new iteration that combines physical dash buttons with a mouselike controller and a large LCD screen that pops out of the dash upon startup. When equipped with the Multimedia Package, the C-Class is transformed into a mobile sound studio -- and movie theater. A built-in hard drive not only powers the navigation system, it can also store up to 4GB (almost 1,000 songs) of MP3 files. With the car in park, the car can also play DVDs through the pop-up LCD screen and superb Logic 7 surround-sound system. The 2008 C-Class has grown up only ever so slightly from the last generation, so it's still on the small side compared to others in its class. Trunk capacity is 12.4 cubic feet, which can be expanded with the optional split-folding rear seats.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2008 Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Benz-no-More?
benznomore,11/20/2013
C300 Luxury 4dr Sedan (3.0L 6cyl 7A)
Keep in mind that my C230 - 2008 has only 62,000 Kms, is driven lightly and garage kept. Yet...time to move away from Benz once and for all. To date: both electric side mirrors replaced ($700 each), both gas tank pumps replaced a couple of times (fuel gauge still goes out once in a while), side mirror full of water (looks like fish tank), tire blown sidewall, amongst others and just today car would not start leaving all scratching heads..$$$$ Not to mention Benz's outrageous cost of ongoing service...$500-$800 each annual visit.
Certified used
Frank Allen,08/10/2016
C350 Sport 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 7A)
Bought with 26,000 miles, rear drive car owas a bargain in Minnesota because demand is higher for all wheel drive. But this car with traction control had no issues with ice or snow. Trouble free for 6 years of pleasant driving. I'd recommend getting MB Tex upholstery instead of leather if you plant to keep the car for a long time. Leather shows wear at about 75,000 moles despite great care. Be careful front end is close to ground and can scratch high curbs. Now with 100,000 miles, still no problems. Only costs were tires, brakes, wiper blades, and oil changes. Love this car so much I’m selling a much newer (2114) Audi S5, and plan to drive this another 100,000. Still looks contemporary and paint and interior are show room good.
I Love This Car
pebblebeach,09/04/2009
C350 Sport 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 7A)
I was cross-shopping BMW 335i and Audi S4. When I drove the C350, I knew this was the car for me. Sure, it's not as fast as either the 335 or S4 but overall it is perfect. Mine has the P2 package, Multimedia package, Panarama sunroof, 18" rims and iPod adapter. There are more audio storage options than I could probably ever fill. The stereo is great and the build quality is fantastic. I love driving this car and everything about it. I have no regrets and do not miss having a BMW. I will keep this car for a long time. Drive it, you won't be disappointed.
'08 Best New Luxury Car Award from AJAC
Surface,02/06/2008
C300 Luxury 4dr Sedan (3.0L 6cyl 7A)
...and I agree! Got fully loaded Luxury one Oct. 24th, but waited to really know car before review. Amazed how much more impressed with it after the purchase than anticipated. Great ride & maneuverability, rapid passing & breaking, much quicker than the numbers would have you believe... guess because the 7 spd. tranny gets optimal use of power at any speed. One reviewer here wanted backup sensors to be available, they already are... we got the "QuickPark" option on ours. Love sending google & yahoo map entries to car from any computer via "Search & Send" feature with the TeleAid & MultiMedia options. Great interior & exterior lighting, actually enjoy night driving again. Highly recommend!

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated

More about the 2008 Mercedes-Benz C-Class
More About This Model

Everything you need to know about the 2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG is made clear the instant you prod its 451-horsepower V8 engine to life. When the 6.2-liter beast lights off, the engine revs spike in a programmed "look at me" blip before the Merc's idle settles into a deep, throaty burble. Cue the goose bumps.

We haven't yet released the brake or slotted the shift lever into gear, and we're already trying to figure out an angle to finance one of these muscle-bound sport sedans, all $54,625 of it.

But we have to wonder if the 2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG — essentially a hot-rod C-Class sedan — can possibly deliver the goods in direct proportion to this testosterone-infused exhaust note. There's only one way to find out.

Inspiring Performance
The 90-degree DOHC V8 engine in question displaces 6.2 liters or 379 cubic inches. It has an 11.3:1 compression ratio and variable valve timing. It delivers its 451-hp peak at 6,800 rpm out of a possible 7,200. Torque builds from the basement to a 443 pound-feet peak at 5,000 rpm. That ought to do it.

It's bolted to a seven-speed automatic transmission with three shift modes and two shift paddles on the steering wheel. That adds up to about 12, or something. The traction and stability control systems have three settings, one of which is "Off."

Time to brake-torque this lump to the torque convertor's stall speed and drop the hammer.

The C63 lays rubber through the first three gears — two broad strips of it because our AMG has the limited-slip differential that comes with the optional AMG Performance package.

We're instantly overcome by the strong desire to write, star in and direct a film we'll call, Schutzmann und der Bandit. All we need now is a German analog to Sally Field.

But possible movie investors will want to see numbers. If we restrain ourselves and apply a more delicate touch to the throttle with the three-stage traction control in Sport mode, the tires spin less and the C63 AMG passes through 60 mph in 4.4 seconds on its way to a 12.5-second quarter-mile at 113.7 mph. That ought to keep us clear of old Schutzmann.

It Looks the Part
You won't find a fire-breathing chicken on the hood of our 2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG. Instead it has two thin longitudinal protuberances that actually make room for a broad, twin-chamber intake plenum, not the cylinder heads.

A less restrictive front grille allows extra cooling air to penetrate the radiator. The products of combustion and the grumble of the rollicking V8 shoot out the back through quad exhaust outlets and a unique rear valance. Words can't describe the glory that is the C63 AMG's unashamed exhaust note at full boil — or partial boil, for that matter. Or even simmer.

More visually striking are the pronounced front fender flares and broadened front bumper cover. A 1.4-inch-wider front track, revised steering geometry and meatier 235/40R18 Pirelli P Zero front tires are to blame for this. A trio of cooling slits sits just ahead of the tires. No rear fender bulges have been added, but the aft wheelwells are fully stuffed with 255/35R18 rubber.

Individually, none of the visual changes to the C63 AMG are radically different from the last C350 Sport sedan we tested. But their combined effect gives the C63 AMG a suitable dose of much-needed street presence.

Track Addict
The unique C63 AMG front suspension changes have been made to help improve steering precision and tire grip at the front. But with the stiffer sport suspension setup that comes with the optional Performance package, our C63 feels "pushy-loose" on the slalom. It understeers past the first couple of cones before small bumps that other cars barely acknowledge tend to pitch this rock-hard suspension sideways. A cone-free run at 68.6 mph takes some doing.

The C63 tends toward push on the skid pad, too, achieving 0.89g. When we try for more with a little throttle (and the stability control off), the tail slithers out and it all goes sideways in clouds of tire smoke. It'll look great on the big screen, though.

Lapping around the ultrasmooth surface of Spring Mountain Raceway in Pahrump, Nevada, the suspension comes into its own. A strategic lift of the throttle as we enter a corner gets the nose pointed toward the apex. As long as we don't overcook it, it's possible to put the throttle down early. On fast sweepers, the Merc likes to carry a sustained tail-out drift. The stopwatch doesn't say it's fast, but it sure is a riot.

You also get impressive-looking six-piston fixed calipers and two-piece "compound" front rotors (aluminum hub, floating cast-iron rotors) with the Performance package. They're drilled and slotted and ventilated, and it all results in 114-foot stops from 60 mph.

We've seen shorter stops with less flamboyant hardware, but our Merc does weigh 3,993 pounds. While we're lapping, bystanders radio in reports of brake smell, but we don't feel any fade. We back off anyway.

Hard Times
On the street, the optional AMG performance suspension that comes with the Performance package is just too bloody hard. Any sort of imperfection is transmitted in the form of a kidney punch through very aggressively bolstered front seats. There's no subtlety or compliance here.

It would be easy to say "Don't buy the AMG Performance package." After all, the standard AMG suspension worked great on a C63 we drove on the track recently, and it still has the tires, forged aluminum wheels, widened track and other chassis improvements.

But then you'd miss out on things we like about the Performance package (the suede-covered steering wheel) and things we need (the limited-slip differential.) After all, two stripes of burned rubber are always better than one. If the differential was available as a stand-alone option, the choice would be easy.

Actually, the choice is easy for early adopters, because the $3,900 AMG Performance package on our test car isn't available until summer 2008 anyway.

Call It a Production Expense
A front-row seat in a 2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG costs a surprisingly reasonable $54,625. The Steel Grey Metallic paint that helps toughen our test car's look costs $710 more.

Typical C-Class options are available on the C63 AMG. Ours had the same $2,950 Multimedia package that includes navigation (to help Bandit find shortcuts,) Harman Kardon premium audio, a six-disc changer, 30-gigabyte hard drive, Bluetooth and an iPod connection (to deliver the Jerry Reed tunes.)

TeleAid GPS-based emergency assistance ($650) is there if it all goes pear-shaped. Seat heaters and leather seats that go by the name of AMG napa leather upholstery cost another $2,950.

As it sits, our test car's total price is $65,785, although $3,900 of that is the previously mentioned AMG Performance package that isn't for sale initially. At press time, no word on the possibility of a gas-guzzler tax was available. The C63 AMG is rated at 12 mpg city/19 mpg highway, so it might escape the tax.

This all is starting to get expensive, but it still adds up to less than a Corvette Z06. We're not saying the C63 AMG is as fast or as nimble as a Corvette Z06; it isn't. But this four-door sedan connected with us on a visceral level like no other recent Mercedes has.

We Have a Hit on Our Hands
Like the Bandit's Firebird Trans Am, the C63 AMG is happiest charging from stoplight to stoplight and running from the law. Sinuous back roads are not its thing. While the 451-hp V8 connects with us on a gut level, so does the too-stiff optional performance suspension. Buy this upgrade only if you plan on track days.

To us, the 2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG is a hoot, which is what the old hot-rod guys would say. Though it lives in a German wrapper, this is classic muscle-car stuff — a big V8 engine with heaps of power and torque to generate speed, not to mention oversteer, brodies and burnouts.

We're serious about the movie. If nothing else, we'll be able to write the car off as a production expense. But Coors isn't German enough. We'll smuggle Jägermeister instead, and Hasselhoff can play the singing truck driver. It'll be a big hit. All we need is a script.

Second Opinion
Editorial Director Kevin Smith says: True confessions: Some Mercedes feel like trucks to me. Luxurious, solid, high-tech and beautifully crafted trucks, to be sure, but a little too hefty and functional when a touch of frivolity and fleetness of foot would be nice.

So here's one that confounds my prejudices. Yes, the C63 AMG still has a little more numbness in the steering than seems entirely necessary, and its turn-in behavior can suggest a fair bit of mass in the nose. But that's about it for the latent truckiness. Everything else about this close-coupled sedan says speed, power, response and character. Especially character. This AMG's aggressive exhaust rumble gives the musical Audi R8 a run for the distinction of Most Mellifluous Tone out of a stock production tailpipe. Between that and the downright stiff ride of the Performance package suspension, this car speaks to a sports-performance fan in clear and convincing terms.

And it's fast, the ultimate justification for any other compromises the engineers might have made. There is forward thrust everywhere: off the line, up an on-ramp and finding out what she'll do out in the desert. Even in full-auto, the transmission upshifts crisply on hard acceleration and downshifts smartly — with throttle blips — on braking. Love it.

Throw in some of the most boldly bolstered bucket seats we've tried in a long time and you have the basics for a serious go-fast experience. Your driving record has been warned.

The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

Used 2008 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Overview

The Used 2008 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is offered in the following submodels: C-Class C63 AMG, C-Class Sedan. Available styles include C350 Sport 4dr Sedan (3.5L 6cyl 7A), C300 Luxury 4MATIC 4dr Sedan AWD (3.0L 6cyl 7A), C300 Sport 4MATIC 4dr Sedan AWD (3.0L 6cyl 7A), C300 Luxury 4dr Sedan (3.0L 6cyl 7A), C300 Sport 4dr Sedan (3.0L 6cyl 6M), and C63 AMG 4dr Sedan (6.2L 8cyl 7A). Pre-owned Mercedes-Benz C-Class models are available with a 3.5 L-liter gas engine or a 3.0 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 268 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2008 Mercedes-Benz C-Class comes with rear wheel drive, and all wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 7-speed shiftable automatic. The Used 2008 Mercedes-Benz C-Class comes with a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. basic warranty, a unlimited yr./ unlimited mi. roadside warranty, and a 4 yr./ 50000 mi. powertrain warranty.

What's a good price on a Used 2008 Mercedes-Benz C-Class?

Price comparisons for Used 2008 Mercedes-Benz C-Class trim styles:

  • The Used 2008 Mercedes-Benz C-Class C300 Luxury is priced between $7,490 and$11,499 with odometer readings between 44956 and146946 miles.
  • The Used 2008 Mercedes-Benz C-Class C300 Sport 4MATIC is priced between $6,500 and$8,500 with odometer readings between 103034 and138668 miles.
  • The Used 2008 Mercedes-Benz C-Class C300 Luxury 4MATIC is priced between $7,900 and$7,900 with odometer readings between 105819 and105819 miles.

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Which used 2008 Mercedes-Benz C-Classes are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2008 Mercedes-Benz C-Class for sale near. There are currently 8 used and CPO 2008 C-Classes listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $6,500 and mileage as low as 44956 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2008 Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

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Find a used Mercedes-Benz C-Class for sale - 10 great deals out of 14 listings starting at $16,090.

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Find a used certified pre-owned Mercedes-Benz C-Class for sale - 12 great deals out of 24 listings starting at $12,359.

Find a used certified pre-owned Mercedes-Benz for sale - 6 great deals out of 6 listings starting at $13,142.

Should I lease or buy a 2008 Mercedes-Benz C-Class?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Mercedes-Benz lease specials
Check out Mercedes-Benz C-Class lease specials