Certified Benz & Beemer Compares 2011 BMW 3 Series VS 2011 Mercedes C-Class Near Phoenix, AZ

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2011 BMW 3 Series

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2011 Mercedes C-Class

Safety Comparison

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

Warranty Comparison

The 3 Series Sedan’s corrosion warranty is 8 years and unlimited miles longer than the C-Class’ (12/unlimited vs. 4/50,000).

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the 3 Series Sedan for 4 years and 50,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, tire rotation, lubrication and any other scheduled maintenance. Mercedes doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the C-Class.

There are over 12 percent more BMW dealers than there are Mercedes dealers, which makes it easier to get service under the 3 Series Sedan’s warranty.

Reliability Comparison

The battery on the 3 Series Sedan is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures which can degrade battery life. By keeping the 3 Series Sedan’s battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The C-Class’ battery is in the hot engine compartment.

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without their vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports predicts that the BMW 3 Series Sedan 2WD 328i’s reliability will be 12% better than the C-Class with the best reliability rating.

Engine Comparison

The 335i Sedan’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. produces 32 more horsepower (300 vs. 268) and 42 lbs.-ft. more torque (300 vs. 258) than the C350’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6.

The 3 Series Sedan’s 3.0 turbo diesel produces 37 more horsepower (265 vs. 228) and 204 lbs.-ft. more torque (425 vs. 221) than the C300’s standard 3.0 DOHC V6. The 3 Series Sedan’s 3.0 turbo diesel produces 167 lbs.-ft. more torque (425 vs. 258) than the C350’s standard 3.5 DOHC V6.

As tested in Car and Driver the 328i Sedan is faster than the C300 (manual transmissions tested):

3 Series Sedan


Zero to 60 MPH

5.9 sec

6.5 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

16.1 sec

16.8 sec

Quarter Mile

14.6 sec

14.9 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

96 MPH

95 MPH

Top Speed

148 MPH

130 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

On the EPA test cycle the 335d Sedan gets better fuel mileage than the C300 Auto RWD (23 city/36 hwy vs. 18 city/26 hwy).

On the EPA test cycle the 3 Series Sedan gets better fuel mileage than the C-Class:

3 Series Sedan



3.0 6 cyl./Manual

18 city/28 hwy

18 city/26 hwy

3.0 V6

3.0 turbo 6 cyl./Manual

19 city/28 hwy


3.0 6 cyl./Auto

18 city/28 hwy

18 city/26 hwy

3.0 V6

3.0 turbo 6 cyl./Auto

19 city/28 hwy

17 city/25 hwy

3.5 V6/Auto


3.0 turbo 6 cyl./Auto

18 city/27 hwy


Brakes and Stopping Comparison

For better stopping power the 3 Series Sedan’s brake rotors are larger than those on the C-Class:

328i Sedan




Front Rotors

12.3 inches

13.7 inches

11.6 inches

12.7 inches

Rear Rotors

11.8 inches

13.2 inches

11.8 inches

11.8 inches

The 3 Series Sedan stops much shorter than the C-Class:

3 Series Sedan


80 to 0 MPH

208 feet

241 feet

Road & Track

70 to 0 MPH

160 feet

174 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

116 feet

135 feet

Road & Track

Tires and Wheels Comparison

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the 3 Series Sedan can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The C-Class doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling Comparison

The 335i Sedan handles at .95 G’s, while the C350 pulls only .82 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The 335d Sedan goes through Road & Track’s slalom 6.7 MPH faster than the C350 (70.5 vs. 63.8 MPH).

Chassis Comparison

The 3 Series Sedan is 4.1 inches shorter than the C-Class, making the 3 Series Sedan easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

As tested by Road & Track, the interior of the 335d Sedan is quieter than the C350:

3 Series Sedan


At idle

45 dB

45 dB


71 dB

74 dB

50 MPH Cruising

62 dB

67 dB

70 MPH Cruising

67 dB

69 dB

Passenger Space Comparison

The 3 Series Sedan has 4.8 cubic feet more passenger volume than the C-Class (93 vs. 88.2).

The 3 Series Sedan has 1.4 inches more front headroom, .7 inches more front shoulder room, .6 inches more rear headroom and 1.2 inches more rear legroom than the C-Class.

Ergonomics Comparison

The 3 Series Sedan has a lever hand brake in the console, easy to use while keeping both feet free and not impeding entry and exit. The C-Class’ foot pedal parking brake is not handy to use as a hill holding device with a manual transmission.

The 3 Series Sedan’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The C-Class’ standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the 3 Series Sedan to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The C-Class doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

While driving with high-beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the 3 Series Sedan detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low-beams. The C-Class doesn’t offer automatic dimming high-beams.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the 3 Series Sedan offers an optional Active Cruise Control, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The C-Class doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

Economic Advantages Comparison

The 3 Series Sedan will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. Kiplinger’s estimates that the 3 Series Sedan will retain 38% to 41% of its original price after four years, while the C-Class only retains 35% to 37%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the 3 Series Sedan is less expensive to operate than the C-Class because it costs $894 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the 3 Series Sedan than the C-Class, including $18 less for an alternator, $277 less for a starter and $15 less for fuel injection.

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