Certified Benz & Beemer Compares 2012 BMW 3 Series VS 2012 Mercedes C-Class Near Phoenix, AZ

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2012 BMW 3 Series

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2012 Mercedes C-Class

Safety Comparison

The 3 Series Sedan’s optional front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The C-Class Sedan doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

The 3 Series Sedan offers an optional collision warning system, which detects an impending crash through forward mounted sensors and flashes a bright light and sounds a loud, distinctive tone to warn the driver to brake or maneuver immediately to avoid a collision. The C-Class Sedan doesn't offer a collision warning system.

The 3 Series Sedan offers an optional Surround View to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The C-Class Sedan only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep or flash a light. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

Both the 3 Series Sedan and the C-Class Sedan 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 Sedan’s (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 Sedan.

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.

Engine Comparison

The 3 Series Sedan has more powerful engines than the C-Class Sedan:



328i 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

240 HP

260 lbs.-ft.

335i 3.0 turbo 6 cyl.

300 HP

300 lbs.-ft.

C250 Sedan 1.8 turbo 4 cyl.

201 HP

229 lbs.-ft.

C300 Sedan 3.0 DOHC V6

228 HP

221 lbs.-ft.

C350 Sedan 3.5 DOHC V6

302 HP

273 lbs.-ft.

As tested in Motor Trend the 328i is faster than the C250 Sedan (automatics tested):

3 Series Sedan

C-Class Sedan

Zero to 60 MPH

5.6 sec

7.2 sec

Quarter Mile

14.2 sec

15.4 sec

For more instantaneous acceleration and better engine flexibility in any gear, the 3 Series Sedan’s engines produce their peak torque at lower RPM’s than the C-Class Sedan:


328i 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

1250 RPM

335i 3.0 turbo 6 cyl.

1300 RPM

C250 Sedan 1.8 turbo 4 cyl.

2000 RPM

C300 Sedan 3.0 DOHC V6

2700 RPM

C350 Sedan 3.5 DOHC V6

3500 RPM

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

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

3 Series Sedan

C-Class Sedan

Turbo 4 cyl./Manual

23 city/34 hwy


Turbo 6 cyl./Manual

20 city/30 hwy


Turbo 4 cyl./Auto

24 city/36 hwy

21 city/31 hwy

Turbo 6 cyl./Auto

23 city/33 hwy

18 city/27 hwy

3.5 V6

Regenerative brakes improve the 3 Series Sedan’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The C-Class Sedan doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the 3 Series Sedan’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The C-Class Sedan doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

Brakes and Stopping Comparison

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




C350 Sedan

Front Rotors

12.3 inches

13.4 inches

11.6 inches

12.7 inches

Rear Rotors

11.8 inches

13 inches

11.8 inches

11.8 inches

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

3 Series Sedan

C-Class Sedan

80 to 0 MPH

219 feet

241 feet

Road & Track

70 to 0 MPH

164 feet

170 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

124 feet

135 feet

Road & Track

Tires and Wheels Comparison

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the 3 Series Sedan offers optional 19 inch wheels. The C-Class Sedan’s largest wheels are only 18 inches.

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 Sedan doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling Comparison

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the 3 Series Sedan’s wheelbase is 1.9 inches longer than on the C-Class Sedan (110.6 inches vs. 108.7 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the 3 Series Sedan is 2.3 inches wider in the rear than on the C-Class Sedan.

The 328i handles at .91 G’s, while the C350 Sedan pulls only .81 G’s of cornering force in a Road & Track skidpad test.

The 328i goes through Road & Track’s slalom 5.2 MPH faster than the C350 Sedan (69 vs. 63.8 MPH).

The 328i executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.3 seconds quicker than the C250 Sedan (25.9 seconds @ .69 average G’s vs. 27.2 seconds).

Chassis Comparison

As tested by Road & Track while at idle, the interior of the 328i is quieter than the C250 Sedan (51 vs. 54 dB).

Passenger Space Comparison

The 3 Series Sedan has 7.8 cubic feet more passenger volume than the C-Class Sedan (96 vs. 88.2).

The 3 Series Sedan has 3.2 inches more front headroom, .3 inches more front legroom, .4 inches more front shoulder room, .8 inches more rear headroom, 1.7 inches more rear legroom and .1 inches more rear shoulder room than the C-Class Sedan.

Cargo Capacity Comparison

The 3 Series Sedan has a larger trunk than the C-Class Sedan (13 vs. 12.4 cubic feet).

Ergonomics Comparison

The 3 Series Sedan offers an optional heads-up display which projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts onto the windshield, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The C-Class Sedan doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

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 Sedan doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

When the 3 Series Sedan is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The C-Class Sedan’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

Both the 3 Series Sedan and the C-Class Sedan offer optional heated front seats. The 3 Series Sedan also offers optional heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the C-Class Sedan.

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 Sedan doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

Optional BMW Apps for the 3 Series Sedan allows the driver and passengers access to select programs on their smartphones, including reading text messages aloud, playing internet radio stations, tagging songs to buy them later, following twitter accounts and other online activities without taking their eyes off the road or their hands from the wheel. The C-Class Sedan doesn’t offer factory integrated smartphone program access.

The 3 Series Sedan’s optional Parking Assistant can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The C-Class Sedan doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Economic Advantages Comparison

Insurance will cost less for the 3 Series Sedan owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the 3 Series Sedan will cost $715 less than the C-Class Sedan over a five-year period.

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