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New Car Review - 1994 Mercedes-Benz C280 Sport Sedan

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SEE ALSO:Mercedes Buyer's Guide

For over 100 years Mercedes-Benz has enjoyed a well-earned reputation for building top-quality motor cars. During this era it has produced some very memorable models, including luxury limousines, and deluxe high-performance sports cars.

Until now Mercedes had been developing and refining its high-end models, like the S-Class sedans and the SL-Class coupes and roadsters. While these cars are arguably among the best in the world, the 1990's economy demands a realistic low-end approach. The 190, its old entry model, had become somewhat dated in size, styling and performance. Daimler-Benz has not become one of the world's oldest automakers by accident. It realized that something new was called for, and something new was created - the new C-Class. These new models may be the most significant machines in the company's recent history. They are designed to meet world competition head-to-head and concede nothing.

APPEARANCE: The C280 has the traditional Mercedes look from its rectangular grille with its tri-star logo to its short high rear deck, and many of the styling cues are derived from the flagship S-class models, including its coupe-like lines. Its lower appearance is mostly due to its wide stance and low-front/high- rear semi-wedge design. Both the wide headlights and triangular high-mounted rear lights wrap around the corners of the car for visibility and safety. Stylish new alloy wheels accent its Michelin MXV3 tires.

COMFORT: Mercedes carries forth its tradition of elegance and convenience in the all-new C280. Its fully equipped interior is covered with MB-Tex, a leather lookalike, and trimmed across the dash and doors with genuine Zebrano wood. The 10-way power front seats can be custom-comfortable adjusted for all-day driving. The new climate control system is equipped with a dust filter, and is both easy to operate and quietly efficient. A new Dolby sound system fills the passenger area with high-fidelity music via FM or AM radio or cassette. A nifty cassette holder is mounted on the console, and a beverage holder is an unanticipated fixture. Other amenities include heated and powered side mirrors, power windows and door locks, and a unique and very effective eccentric single windshield wiper with heated washer nozzles. Another new item for Mercedes is the 60/40 fold-down rear seat back to complement the large, flat and low liftover trunk. It features many comfort items designed specifically for the American market.

SAFETY: The C280 imparts the feeling of safety and solidity that one finds in the proverbial bank vault. It is equipped with dual air-bags up front and three-point shoulder harness on all outboard seats, as well as anti-lock disc brakes on all four wheels. Several years ago Mercedes pioneered safety-cage construction wherein the car is designed to collapse in specific ways to absorb the energy of the crash and protect the occupants. The new C-Sedans benefit from this engineering technique.

ROADABILITY: In developing the ride and handling qualities of the C280 Mercedes has utilized much of the technology found in the S-Class models. The result is predictable competent handling in almost all road, weather and surface conditions. Its power steering provides excellent road feedback, the anti-lock disc brakes insure safe stops, its traction control contributes to agile maneuvering and the Michelin tires hold the road without protest. Thanks to its strong body construction and excellent insulation this newest Mercedes sedan delivers a very quiet and stable ride at all times. It is a pleasure to drive anywhere.

PERFORMANCE: Under the hood of the C280 lies a responsive 2.8 liter inline six-cylinder engine. It features four-valves per cylinder, dual-overhead cams, direct ignition, sequential port fuel injection and electronic engine management. It develops 194 horsepower and delivers all of the power needed at any speed. It has excellent low-end torque as well as high end smoothness. The four-speed automatic trans- mision shifts up and down the gears quite smoothly and quietly. When required it downshifts precisely to deliver the power needed for safe passing, as well as compression for descending steep grades. Its gated shift lever combines the convenience of an automatic with the flexibility of a manual transmission.

CONCLUSION: The new C280 may well turn out to be a landmark car for Mercedes-Benz. It has thrown down its gauntlet to seriously challenge the rest of the luxury car manufacturers.


	   Base Price              $  34,900
	   Price As Tested         $  36,472
	   Engine Type             I-6, dohc-24v, mpfi
	   Engine Size             2.8 liter/171 cid   
	   Horsepower              194 @ 5500
	   Torque (ft/lbs)         199 @ 3750
	   Wheelbase/Length        106"/177"
	   Transmission            four speed auto 
	   Curb Weight             3360
	   Pounds per Horsepower   17
	   Fuel Capacity           16
	   Fuel Requirement        Unleaded premium (91 oct)
	   Tire                    Michelin MXV3  A 195/65R15 91H     
	   Brake                   anti-lock standard     disc/disc
	   Drive Train             front engine/rear drive
	   EPA Economy - miles per gallon,        
	     city/highway/observed      20/26/23.6
	   0 to 60 mph                  8.5 sec  
	   1/4 mi (E.T.)                16.7 sec  
	   Coefficient of drag (cd)     .32