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
•Engine: 3L V-6
•Dimensions: 108.7" wheelbase; 182.3" length.
•Base price: $31,200/tested $38,700.
•Fuel economy: 18/16 mpg.