Certified Benz & Beemer Compares 2009 Mercedes Benz C-Class VS 2009 BMW 3 Near Scottsdale, AZ

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2009 Mercedes Benz C-Class

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2009 BMW 3

Safety Comparison

For enhanced safety, the front and rear seat shoulder belts of the Mercedes C Class are height adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The BMW 3 Series doesn’t offer height adjustable seat belts.

Both the C Class and the 3 Series have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, head airbags, front and rear seatbelt pretensioners, plastic fuel tanks, four wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding and available all wheel drive.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Mercedes C Class is safer than the 3 Series Sedan:

C Class

3 Series



4 Stars

4 Stars

Head Injury Index



Chest forces

46 g’s

53 g’s



4 Stars

4 Stars

Head Injury Index



Chest forces

48 g’s

57 g’s

More stars indicate a better overall result. Lower numbers indicate better individual test results.

Engine Comparison

The C300’s standard 3.0 DOHC V6 produces 21 lbs.-ft. more torque (221 vs. 200) than the 328i’s standard 3.0 DOHC 6 cyl.

As tested in Consumer Reports the C300 is faster than the 328i (automatics tested):

C Class

3 Series

Zero to 60 MPH

6.8 sec

6.9 sec

45 to 65 MPH Passing

4.7 sec

4.8 sec

Quarter Mile

15.2 sec

15.3 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

94.7 MPH

94.6 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

The C Class has 1.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the 3 Series (17.4 vs. 16.1 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Brakes and Stopping Comparison

The C Class’ brakes have 16% more swept area (the area covered by the brake pads) than the 328i (537 vs. 464 square inches), so the C Class has more braking power available. The C Class’ brakes have 5% more swept area (the area covered by the brake pads) than the 335i (537 vs. 511 square inches).

The C Class stops shorter than the 3 Series:

C Class

3 Series

70 to 0 MPH

170 feet

171 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

129 feet

137 feet

Consumer Reports

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

138 feet

150 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels Comparison

For better traction, the C Class has larger standard tires than the 3 Series (225/45R17 vs. 205/55R16).

The C Class’ standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) which provides a stiffer sidewall than the 328i’s standard 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the C Class has standard 17 inch wheels. Smaller 16 inch wheels are standard on the 328i.

The C Class has a standard space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the 3 Series, it requires you to depend on its run-flat tires, which limits mileage and speed before they are repaired. If a run-flat is damaged beyond repair by a road hazard your vehicle will have to be towed. Some models of the 3 Series don’t even offer run-flats.

Suspension and Handling Comparison

For better handling and stability, the average track (width between the wheels) on the C Class is 1.4 inches wider in the front and .6 inches wider in the rear than the track on the 3 Series.

The C350 goes through Road & Track’s slalom faster than the 328i Sedan AWD (63.8 vs. 63.1 MPH).

For better maneuverability, the C Class’ turning circle is .5 feet tighter than the 3 Series’ (35.6 feet vs. 36.1 feet). The C Class’ turning circle is 3.1 feet tighter than the 3 Series AWD’s (35.6 feet vs. 38.7 feet).

Chassis Comparison

The design of the Mercedes C Class amounts to more than styling. The C Class offers aerodynamic coefficients of drag from .27 to .3 Cd (depending on bodystyle and options). That is lower than the 3 Series (.3 to .31) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the C Class get better fuel mileage.

As tested by Road & Track while under full throttle, the interior of the C350 is quieter than the 335i Sedan (74 vs. 76 dB).

Cargo Capacity Comparison

The C Class has a larger trunk than the 3 Series Sedan (12.4 vs. 12 cubic feet).

Ergonomics Comparison

The 3 Series’ standard power locks don’t automatically lock the doors. The C Class’ standard doors lock when a certain speed is reached. This is an important feature for occupant safety. Locked doors are proven to open less often in collisions, and they are also effective in preventing crime at traffic lights. (The power lock’s automatic feature may have to be activated by your dealer.)

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the C Class has standard extendable sun visors. The 3 Series doesn’t offer extendable visors.

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