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Mercedes-Benz C300 Sport: Finer Details Are Just Fine

June 5, 2008

Ralph Gray

Mercedes-Benz C300 Sport

The new Mercedes-Benz C300 Sport mid-size sedan comes with a dazzling array of automotive finery. It's a real Mercedes.

Yet shining through the special body styling, cornering fog lights, eight-way power seats, fancy instrumentation is the good-old gear shift lever.

It's attached to a six-speed short throw manual transmission that makes changing gears a sensuous experience. Throws are quick and accurate, gears engage with a snick-snick. There's never a doubt which gear you've selected.

That transmission harnesses 228 horsepower from a 3L V-6 engine. It drives the rear wheels. A seven-speed automatic transmission is available and it can come with an all-wheel drive setup.

All-wheel drive might help the C300 Sport swing around curves more crisply. The rear-wheel driver propels the C300 with little road feel, not much lean and a more luxo feel. The ride is firm, though.

The driving position is good and side mirrors are large.

The C300 Sport looks racier than it performs thanks to an AMG-designed package of deep front and rear aprons, 17-inch wheels and special shocks, springs and stabilizer bars that lower the car half an inch.

The luxury model four-spoke steering wheel is exchanged for a three-spoker that's nice and thick. Instruments are super legible with red striped indicator needles. Exterior styling is coupe like and borrows from the top-of-the-line S550.

It's really a luxury car with handling touches. For instance, the short throw manual transmission is accompanied by a foot-operated parking brake.

That means drivers can't synchronize the accelerator, clutch and brake for a smooth takeoff on a hill. Unless they have an additional foot or two.

Similarly, the 8.5 seconds 0-60 mph won't turn racer heads but its fine for a luxury sedan.

Mercedes-Benz C300 Sport Mercedes-Benz C300 Sport

•Engine: 3L V-6

•Dimensions: 108.7" wheelbase; 182.3" length.

•Base price: $31,200/tested $38,700.

•Fuel economy: 18/16 mpg.

Source: (c) 2008. All rights reserved.

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