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The Mercedes-Benz C350 is at the upper end of the compact C-class for the German luxury car maker, with only the super sporty C63 AMG above it. The 2013 model is relatively unchanged from the new update in 2012, but fuel-conscious drivers will appreciate the Eco update to the 302-horsepower V6 engine that uses stop-start technology to improve combined fuel mileage to 23 MPG. Yet the C350 can also provide for spirited driving, thanks to a 7-speed automatic with paddle shifters and a firm but compliant suspension.
Where the Mercedes-Benz shines is the number of standard features. The C350 comes with heated front seats and satellite radio, while a rear spoiler adds a touch of aggression to the exterior. Drivers can take advantage of a 14-way power seat and a harman/kardan surround sound system with MP3 inputs. Both front seats are heated, and occasional large cargo is easily handled with the split folding rear seats.
Buyers can opt for either the coupe or the sport sedan models, with the former providing a sleeker look while the latter offers more rear headroom. Heated front seats inside offer comfort regardless of what is outside, while satellite radio increases the number of entertainment options for occupants. There is an available voice-activated navigation system along with a DVD player for passengers to enjoy.
There are other options in the compact luxury coupe and sedan market, of course. For example, the BMW 335i is more powerful than the Mercedes-Benz C350, but offers fewer electronic options. The Lexus IS 350 is roomier in the front, but overlong cargo will be tough to stow without rear folding seats. The Audi S4 can carve corners with the best, but it is more expensive and has weaker safety ratings. Finally, the Acura TL is more economical, but suffers from front-wheel drive that can worsen handling.
The Mercedes-Benz C350 Sport is not designed to snap necks at a race track. However, buyers will likely be impressed with the larger 18-inch wheels and low-profile tires. Inside, sporty accents include a flat-bottom steering wheel for easier turning, as well as seats with a number of features. The fabric insert allows drivers to keep from sliding around during spirited driving in the Mercedes-Benz C350, while the red-top stitching and seat belts highlight the specially-designed interior.