Our illustrious Editor-in-Chief predicts the death of the manual transmission. The “stick-shift is toast,” Farago says, in his own special way. I disagree. If you want to go fast, get a paddle shift automated manual, a la Nissan GT-R. Time and again, the little levers have proven to be the fastest way to get around a track. Want easy breezy beautiful Orange County commuting? Get a traditional automatic. But if you want to maximize the man machine interface, nothing beats a manual. Three pedals can enliven the most leaden of automobiles. To wit: the Mercedes-Benz C300 Sport.
The current gen C’s sheetmetal is wedgy and attractive in a Brunhilda sorta way, complete with bucktooth tri-star emblem. The C marks a return to classic Mercedes’ design language and uberholprestige proportions– with a bit of bling for the boyz. The C300′s inside is a stark tribute to the best of German interiors: finest quality construction matched to minimalist ergonomics, blah blah blah. I wouldn’t have sampled this car if it weren’t the only brand spanking new manual transmission-equipped C300 in the entirety of Dallas. Or Texas, for all I know.
Guiding the Benz out of the car park onto Lemmon Ave, the engine’s improved responsiveness was immediately apparent. With a stick to summon the six, the powerplant pours on the power, smoothly, o demand. No torque converter guessing. No waiting to see what the automatic will do. No Novocaine injection. The C300 practically leaped away from the intersection, displaying the sort of verve even the more powerful C350 can’t produce. The engine growled seductively, then hummed placidly as I heel-n-toed the downshift (perfect pedal placement). If it weren’t for the long transmission throw, the German box car’s transmission would be perfect.
In fact, the Merc suddenly ceased to be a velour track-suited sorority girl’s dream. It became a lithe driving machine to rival the legendary BMW.
Just kidding. The C-Class can’t match the 3-Series’s rightly legendary driving dynamics. But the manual Merc is a more versatile beast. Here you haff a half-sized sports sedan offering sporting fun: a row-your-own corner carver that rewards and challenges when the going gets twisty. And then, when you want to kick back and chillax in your own little world of entry-level wealth, the C300 is just the pill you need. The stick shift is dead. Long live the stick shift!