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BMW and Mercedes have been locked in an ongoing war for many decades now. This is especially evident in the luxury compact marketplace, where the 3 Series has become more luxurious to battle the C-Class, and the C-Class has become more athletic to rival the 3 Series.
The C250 remains essentially unchanged for 2013. It features a trio of distinct trim levels -- Sport, Luxury and Coupe -- that share a 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. This compact powerplant pumps out 201 horsepower and 229 pound-feet of torque, mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission.
The C250 is, however, the slowest model in its class. The sprint to 60 mph takes 7.1 seconds, a somewhat leisurely figure when compared to the BMW 328i (5.9 seconds), the Cadillac ATS (6.3 seconds) and the Audi A4 2.0T (6.2 seconds). And unlike its rivals from BMW and Cadillac, the C250 offers no manual transmission option. Fuel economy is good: 22 mpg city and 31 mpg highway.
Despite its entry-level status, the C250 comes relatively well-equipped with amenities like an automatic-adjusting suspension, five-spoke alloy wheels and a sunroof as standard. Another advantage: The C250 offers a wide array of styles and trim levels that make it a great option for any luxury compact car buyer, a degree of personalization that the ATS and A4 both lack.
The base Sport is a four-door sedan that comes well-equipped with standard features like: 17-inch wheels; an automatically-adjusting sport-tuned suspension; an aerodynamic package; a three-spoke multifunction steering wheel; aluminum interior trim; a sunroof; a high-contrast upholstery color scheme; aluminum pedals; leatherette seating; an auto-dimming rearview mirror; dual-zone automatic climate control; eight-way power front sport seats; and an audio system with an AM/FM/HD Radio, auxiliary input, USB jack, 5.8-inch color display and Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming.
Also a sedan, the C250 Luxury adds standard features including: a chrome grille; a more sedate aerodynamic kit; 17-inch wheels in a split five-spoke design; a four-spoke multifunction steering wheel; burled walnut accents; and an elegant interior color scheme.
Much faster, more horsepower, but more expensive and less trims to choose from
Peppy turbocharged engine available but underwhelming base engine, low base price but pricey options
Super-low price even in all-wheel drive, better performance, but lacks coupe option
High-powered V6, screams to 60 mph and stylish body, but very expensive and lacks Mercedes pedigree