C300 models are powered by a 228-horsepower, 3.0L V6 engine, while the C350 has a 268-horsepower, 3.5L. A 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system is also available on the C300 but not on the C350. The all-wheel drive is delivered through an all-new system that's integrated with the transmission and saves weight compared to the system used in previous model years.
The C300 can be had in Luxury or Sport guise, while the C350 is only offered as a Sport model. The C300 Sport has a 6-speed transmission with an optional seven-speed automatic. The rest of the models have the seven-speed standard.
Sport models get staggered-width 17-inch twin-spoke wheels, plus sport shocks, stiffer springs, and thicker stabilizer bars for a firmer ride and crisper handling. They also ride a half-inch lower. Inside, Sport models get a three-spoke steering wheel in place of the Luxury's four-spoke design, and aluminum (C300) or Birdseye maple (C350) trim in place of the burl walnut.
The instrument panel on the new C-Class has been redesigned with three round--rather than arced--gauges for a sportier, more traditional appearance, and there's now a 12-function information display included.
Safety features are as expected, with ESP stability control, anti-lock four-wheel disc brakes, and six air bags among the standard features; active front head restraints are also included.
A Bluetooth hands-free calling interface is now standard across the model line, as is an eight-speaker, 100-watt sound system with CD/MP3 player. There are steering-wheel controls that apply both to the audio functions and to the available navigation system.
Top options include a COMAND screen-based interface, a navigation system, and a new Multimedia Package, which includes four gigabytes of music-storage space--enough for about 1,000 songs. The system will also read music from a memory card, and the contents are automatically identified via a built-in Gracenote music database.