With just about every brand’s ever expanding lineups and the multitude of vehicle categories emerging, these days, it’s all about finding a niche to exploit. That might explain this car, the Mercedes-Benz C450 AMG Sport. So, is this tweener worth a look, or is it just marketing gone overboard?
So where does this 2016 Mercedes-Benz C450 AMG 4Matic sedan fit in the C-class hierarchy? Well, as you might guess from the elongated name; it attempts to bridge the gap between a luxury-minded C300 and the all-out performance insanity of an AMG C63.
It’s one of what Benz now calls the AMG Sports models. You know it’s a sports model if the AMG comes after the model designation, not before it. Got it? According to MB, it’s all about making AMG more attainable to more people, regardless of the confusion.
But much like that AMG C63, the 450 AMG also boasts twin-turbo power, only with 2 fewer cylinders in play, and a whole lot less bark. Here it’s a 3.0-liter V6 that outputs 362-horsepower and 384 lb-ft. of torque. Not bad, considering that’s 33–horsepower and 30 lb-ft. more than last year’s C400. Even better, when you consider the BMW 340i, with its inline turbo-6, rates a distant second.
The 450 AMG’s transmission is a true 7-speed automatic, and there’s standard 4MATIC all-wheel-drive that has a 2/3s rear bias.
The letters AMG usually also mean distinctive styling, and here the 450 gets an aggressive look, but one that’s not overdone. Very similar in fashion to full-on AMG editions of a generation or two ago.
Openings in the unique front fascia are enlarged; and for better or worse, the grille gets ‘Benz’s floating diamonds treatment.
In addition, there are AMG logos to go along with the black trim, dual chrome exhaust tips, 18 or 19-inch AMG light alloy wheels, and a distinctive spoiler lip tacked on to the rear deck.
Driving dynamics are of much more significance of course. And for that, the 450’s suspension is a variation of the top shelf C63’s, with adaptive 3-stage dampers, stiffened 4-link in front, and multi-link in rear.
In Eco mode, there’s engine stop/start and a “sailing” function that disengages the transmission when you let of the gas. In Comfort mode, ride quality is quite good, with really no hint of the performance nastiness that’s available.
But things really wake up in Sport Plus mode, as steering and throttle become more responsive and the suspension stiffens up dramatically; becoming borderline too harsh for the street.
So, hopefully you can find yourself a nice smooth race track like we did, our winter haunt of Roebling Road Raceway near Savannah. And around its fast turns, the 450 feels competent and well-settled, with nice and direct steering; accompanied by much better than average brakes.
It’s no lightweight at 3,693-lbs., but like a traditional German sports sedan it wears it well; feeling quite capable in both transitions and powering through sweepers.
All-in-all, highly proficient for a car that we still feel is more at home backroad joy riding.
Acceleration numbers fall right around where you’d expect, with a 4.5-second trip to 60 and a 12.9-second ¼-mile at 109 miles-per-hour.
It feels plenty powerful off the line, and the all-wheel-drive grip makes good use of all that’s available. There’s just a hint of turbo lag before power comes on in full, and it sounds pretty sweet for not being an all-out performance sedan. Especially when you let off the throttle and get that neat V8-like crackle from the exhaust.
Shifts from the 7-speed automatic are firm and quite prompt, with barely any drop-off in power between them. And in manual mode, surprise! The shifter only shifts when you tell it to. Not when a computer thinks it’s prudent.
Inside, the mix of durable MB-Tex vinyl, color stitching, and aluminum accents “sportify” the space without looking fast or furious. Of course you can upgrade to real leather and add some carbon fiber if you choose.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 21-City, 29-Highway, and 24-Combined. Keeping the Energy Impact Score right around average with 13.7-barrels of oil burned and 6.1 tons of CO2 emitted yearly.
When it comes to pricing, the C450 pendulum swings closer to a base C300 sedan, starting at $51,725. Yet when it comes to performance, that pendulum easily swings closer to the full-on AMG C63.
In truth, this very easy to look at 2016 Mercedes-Benz C450 AMG 4MATIC is in many ways simply a renaming of last year’s C400 with some AMG trickle down goodies thrown in for sport. And a good sport it is as you get most of the AMG C63 performance quotient for a fraction of the added price. And it’s one luxury sport sedan that still embraces the luxury aspects of the equation as well. All of that, makes this meaner tweener much more than just a clever marketing maneuver; rather, a ride more than worthy of your consideration.
Engine: 3.0 liter V6
Torque: 384 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 4.5 seconds
1/4 mile: 12.9 seconds @ 109 mph
EPA: 21 mpg city/ 29 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 13.7 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 6.1 tons/yr