The Truth About Cars » mercedes-benz c-class http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 18 Nov 2014 01:36:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » mercedes-benz c-class http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Capsule Review: 2015 Mercedes-Benz C400 4Matic http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/capsule-review-2015-mercedes-benz-c400-4matic/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/capsule-review-2015-mercedes-benz-c400-4matic/#comments Wed, 12 Nov 2014 13:35:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=944313 We use a lot of terminology in our quest to classify automobiles which actively pursue thicker portions of your pocketbook. No matter how many E-Class Benzes ply their trade as German taxicabs, we still allow the S-Class’s high-class image to rub off on the CLA in order to call the entry-level Mercedes sedan an “entry-luxury” […]

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2015 Mercedes-Benz C400 frontWe use a lot of terminology in our quest to classify automobiles which actively pursue thicker portions of your pocketbook.

No matter how many E-Class Benzes ply their trade as German taxicabs, we still allow the S-Class’s high-class image to rub off on the CLA in order to call the entry-level Mercedes sedan an “entry-luxury” car. A 3-Series without leather, lacking a six-cylinder, can still be called a luxury sports sedan. Lexus’s CT200h uses a Prius powertrain, but hey, it’s a Lexus, so it must be “premium” right?

Upscale. High-end. Executive. Premium. Luxury. The words, commandeered by the manufacturers themselves, have lost so much of their meaning because we have lost our ability to place any faith in words which too often turn out to be nothing more than marketing catch-phrases.

But words don’t matter. Forget the words. Ignore the words. Discard the words. Do whatever you have to render the traditional classifying terms null and void.

Doing so will help you accept the truthful message that the new W205 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class, tested here in C400 4Matic form, is an honest-to-goodness, legitimate luxury car. Not because it wears a three-pointed star on its key fob, steering wheel, trunk lid, grille, and bonnet, but because it positions you in “the state of great comfort and extravagant living.”

It starts with bank vault-like door closures, but it’s the high-quality interior that truly positions the new C-Class as a cut above its traditional rivals. If not for its size, power output, and pricing scheme, the C-Class wouldn’t really come across as a 3-Series rival in 2015. All the common touchpoints and the places you’ll never touch will cause you to think the C-Class is too nice, too luxurious, to be lumped in with the ATS, IS, Q50, and even the A4.

2015 Mercedes-Benz C400 4MaticMore than the materials themselves, it’s the narrow tolerances, the snug fits, the silent operation of moving parts, the unusually tactile way in which vents open and move, the snickety-snicking of the volume control wheel, muted accent lighting, and the perfectly weighted forward and backward motion of the Agility Select rocker.

Piano black finishes across the central part of the cabin are a big mistake, but not a mistake an actual C-Class buyer must live with – there are choices. The perched central screen is a big no-no from a stylistic perspective, as well. Yet it looks better here than in the CLA250 4Matic we recently reviewed, in part because of its size; in part because of the spectacular cabin in which it resides. Tacked on the dash, the C-Class’s screen does keep your eyes closer to the road, but there are plenty of convoluted interior mechanics to distract and disturb a driver.

2015 Mercedes-Benz C400 4Matic rear closeBesides speech recognition, theoretically a wonderful solution but comically ineffective in this C400, many controls can be operated with conventional buttons mounted below the touch screen, or a touchpad, or Mercedes-Benz’s better-known control knob, which is partially hidden by the touchpad. Seat controls, in typical Mercedes-Benz fashion, are located up on the door. The cruise control stalk is hidden away behind the steering wheel, mounted too close to the power tilt and telescoping wand. Wiper options, which are surprisingly limited, are on the same stalk one uses to operate signals. Then on the other side of the wheel, the shifter is a column-mounted unit but not a straightforward column shifter in the manner of nearly all column mounted shifters in the history of column mounted shifters.

But the C-Class is a luxury car, both nominally and in reality, and thus a little complication goes a long way to convincing us that this isn’t an intuitive Hyundai Genesis. Goodness no, that would be a crying shame. No, go and accidentally swipe that touch pad when you meant to press it, fly past Pop2K and The Pulse and The Blend and Love and Elvis in your attempts to access SiriusXM’s 90s on 9. Because Steal My Sunshine.

2015 Mercedes-Benz C400 interiorThe C-Class is also a bigger car than it used to be: nearly four inches longer than the old car on a wheelbase that’s three inches longer than the W204 car. This provides slight numerical differences in interior space – 1.8 inches more legroom in the rear; 1.6% more cargo capacity – but the difference, in reality, is more stark. It’s ten inches shorter, bumper to bumper, than an Acura TLX and doesn’t feel nearly as spacious, but the C400’s rear seat is more usable than the rear seat in the slightly longer Lexus IS. Capacious? No, but usable. Particularly for front seat occupants actual comfort is downright, dare I say it, luxurious.

Although it’s a bigger car than the old C-Class, it’s also marginally lighter. This C400, lacking any extra performance options, feels decidedly compact to drive and park (not that you’d want to use Active Park Assist, which is prone to mistakes and is slower at parking than you are) and would feel rather tossable if not for the slow-to-react steering. Brake feel and performance is top-notch stuff for a non-performance-branded German sedan, perhaps even for an AMG car. Ride quality is properly firm and unflustered almost all the time but then, suddenly, bizarrely crashy when the coastal Atlantic pavement deteriorates and the low-profile rubber (225/45R18 front, 245/40R18 rear Continental ProContact GX SSR) pays its price. But aside from those rare moments which likely won’t even be encountered where road conditions aren’t dreadful, it’s a calm car. Better yet, the C400’s optional air suspension likely makes for both an improved ride and superior handling.

2015 Mercedes-Benz C400 4Matic BurmeisterThe new C may be a return to form for a brand that didn’t use to perpetually chase BMW-like sporting credentials. Yet while the C400 4Matic isn’t a sports sedan in the sense that Audi’s S4 or a BMW 335i Sport is a sports sedan, it’s a very athletic car with hugely impressive engine specs. The artificially aspirated V6 sends none of its vibrations into the cabin, but it can come across a bit gruff for, say, lovers of inline-sixes. This fresh-off-the-line car landed in my driveway early on its tenure with fewer than 1200 kilometres/800 miles on its odometer, but the 3.0L twin-turbo V6’s 329 horsepower (at 5250 rpm, and 354 lb-ft of torque at 1600 rpm) felt like ponies well versed in CrossFit, Pilates, hot yoga, and spinning. This is a fast car.

Switch the C400’s Agility selector into Sport+ and those horses behave more like a pack of large, untrained, on-leash puppies furiously pulling their way to the dog park. Eco, Comfort, and Sport are all better options unless you plan to aggressively drive down a great road.

With all of these modes used intermittently, in a mix of city and highway driving, the C400 4Matic Mercedes-Benz Canada loaned to us for a week in November returned 22.6 miles per gallon, a real achievement for a green engine with 329 horsepower, an often heavy right foot, and mandatory all-wheel-drive. It’s rated by the EPA at 21 mpg in the city, 29 on the highway.

2015 Mercedes-Benz C400 4Matic screenAnd again, though the C400 4Matic is poised and balanced through corners, though it accelerates like a supercar of 15 or 20 years ago, and though it brakes remarkably well, this isn’t necessarily the keen driver’s choice. Its 7-speed automatic transmission doesn’t shift swiftly enough and its intelligence is countered by a reluctance to play. It’s a lot like the guy who says he likes 90s music, but when Waterfalls comes on, he won’t turn up the C400’s optional Burmester sound system, a sound system which deserves to be jacked for all manner of music, whether it’s TLC or CCR.

It’s abundantly clear that Mercedes-Benz crafted a luxury car with athletic ability, rather than an All-American athlete with nice finishes in prominent places. (On that note, the C-Class uses its high-grade materials in all corners of the cabin. And it is thoroughly American by one standard: new Cs are built in Alabama with the ML and GL.) They won’t market it that way, of course, because even older buyers who remember Mercedes-Benz at its best feel the need to associate “sport” with the period of youth they’re trying so desperately to remember, assisted by ginkgo biloba, pickleball, and inappropriate use of leggings.

Regardless of which supplements its owner ingests, which sport they play, and how they dress, the new C-Class will nevertheless be a true luxury car, in an authentic use of the phrase. And with a base price of $49,515 in the United States, it better be.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Mercedes Bringing AMG To The Masses http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/mercedes-bringing-amg-masses/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/mercedes-bringing-amg-masses/#comments Mon, 25 Aug 2014 18:09:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=899306 Just as BMW launched their “M Sport” line of mass-produced vehicles bearing the M Badge (think 335i M Sport and the Euro-spec M550d diesel performance sedan), Mercedes-Benz is about to get in on the action with AMG-badged versions of more pedestrian models. According to Automotive News, a C450 AMG will debut as a more performance oriented […]

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Just as BMW launched their “M Sport” line of mass-produced vehicles bearing the M Badge (think 335i M Sport and the Euro-spec M550d diesel performance sedan), Mercedes-Benz is about to get in on the action with AMG-badged versions of more pedestrian models.

According to Automotive News, a C450 AMG will debut as a more performance oriented C-Class above the C400 and below the more hardcore C63 AMG. Less hardcore AMG versions of the CLA, E-Class and GLK are also expected to follow. In addition to more hardcore performance improvements, true AMG models will get more radical visual enhancements like fender flares and a wider track.

The move comes in response to Audi moving their “S” models to a more mainstream position, and positioning their RS lineup as the ultimate performance models, as well as the aforementioned move with BMW’s M cars. Cadillac is also following suit, creating a “V-Sport” line below their more extreme “V” models.

Of course, the proliferation of AMG models through the Mercedes range has led to AMG vehicles becoming less about outright performance, and more about becoming the most expensive example of a particular Mercedes model. Buyers of the ML63 AMG SUV for example, may opt for it because of the status it conveys, rather than its performance capabilities. The new AMG-lite range should capitalize on that desire, but likely won’t move the needle for buyers who must have the most expensive M-B, or nothing else.

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Mercedes-Benz Confirms Diesel For C-Class – In 2 Years http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/mercedes-benz-confirms-diesel-for-c-class-in-2-years/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/mercedes-benz-confirms-diesel-for-c-class-in-2-years/#comments Mon, 29 Apr 2013 11:30:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=486543 A new four-cylinder diesel set to debut on the GLK crossover will make its way to both the Mercedes C-Class and E-Class starting this year. The 2.1L engine makes 200 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, and marks the first 4-cylinder diesel sold by Mercedes-Benz’s American arm since 1985. The oil-burning GLK will go on sale […]

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A new four-cylinder diesel set to debut on the GLK crossover will make its way to both the Mercedes C-Class and E-Class starting this year.

The 2.1L engine makes 200 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, and marks the first 4-cylinder diesel sold by Mercedes-Benz’s American arm since 1985. The oil-burning GLK will go on sale shortly, followed by a new 4-cylinder diesel E-Class in September. Finally, a diesel C-Class will debut in 2015, right around the time when Audi will launch an A4 TDI.

With the advent of the CLA as M-B’s new entry-level product, the C-Class will have to move upscale as well, and the diesel will be an interesting way to distinguish the C-Class from it’s baby brother. Aside from the whole rear-drive thing.

 

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Mercedes To Expand C-Class Lineup http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/mercedes-to-expand-c-class-lineup/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/mercedes-to-expand-c-class-lineup/#comments Mon, 15 Apr 2013 13:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=484819 The next-generation Mercedes-Benz C-Class, due in 2015, will be getting a full lineup of variants to help it better compete against the BMW 3-Series. The next-generation C-Class will be built in Alabama, a first for a Mercedes-Benz passenger car. In addition to the sedan and coupe, convertible and hybrid variants will be offered, marking the […]

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The next-generation Mercedes-Benz C-Class, due in 2015, will be getting a full lineup of variants to help it better compete against the BMW 3-Series.

The next-generation C-Class will be built in Alabama, a first for a Mercedes-Benz passenger car. In addition to the sedan and coupe, convertible and hybrid variants will be offered, marking the car’s transition from M-B’s entry-level product in the United States to a more prestigious position in the lineup. While BMW outsold Mercedes by 5,000 units when only the sedan models were compared, the delta was closer to 20,000 units when all variants were included. But while BMW will offer a 3-Series wagon, Mercedes-Benz won’t be doing the same with the C-Class.

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Review: 2013 Cadillac ATS http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/review-2013-cadillac-ats/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/review-2013-cadillac-ats/#comments Mon, 23 Jul 2012 15:13:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=453789 Size and weight are a big part of GM’s DNA. They beat Ford not with a frontal assault on the Model T but by offering a larger, heavier, flashier car. They thought they could do the same to BMW. But, even as the Bavarians packed on the inches and pounds, car buyers “in the know” […]

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Smaller grille than CTS, but clearly a Cadillac.

Size and weight are a big part of GM’s DNA. They beat Ford not with a frontal assault on the Model T but by offering a larger, heavier, flashier car. They thought they could do the same to BMW. But, even as the Bavarians packed on the inches and pounds, car buyers “in the know” saw the additional size and weight of Cadillacs as a sign that the General either lacked technical competence or just didn’t “get it.” Well, maybe the “new GM” really is different. With the 2013 Cadillac ATS, the company has pulled out all the stops to directly challenge the BMW 3-Series with a rear-wheel-drive car that is—surprise—a few tenths of an inch smaller and a few pounds lighter. Could the people who tried to sell us the Cimmaron have gotten this one right?

Standard 17-inch wheels.

From looking at the ATS, you’d never guess that GM was swinging for the fences, because the exterior designers weren’t. Instead, they were instructed to bunt. The first CTS was a brash yet largely successful attempt by Cadillac to carve out a new visual identity. The second one smoothed off the first’s edges, but its muscular fenders and enlarged grille oozed swagger. Many people loved it, but some also hated it. The ATS’s leaner, less dramatic body sides and trimmer grille are better for aero, packaging efficiency, and not scaring off buyers who want to blend in. The longer you look at it, the better it looks, but such subtly stylish sheet metal won’t sell the ATS all by itself. Instead, it might maximize the number of people willing to check out the rest of the car. This is the opposite of GM’s past practice, where often the hope was that dramatic styling would lure buyers to overlook the rest of the car.

Red interior with real carbon fiber trim.

Crack open the front door, get in, and the ATS’s second impression is a strong one. Nothing crazy here either, but the design and materials are at least as good as others in the segment. No direct competitor has fully upholstered the upper surfaces of the instrument panel and doors. This covering has a tighter, more precise fit than in the CTS. Seven different interiors are offered, and all are attractive, some strikingly so. The large screen for the touch-based “CUE” infotainment system (standard on all but the base trim) has vibrant graphics that combine the visual punch of Ford’s system with the superior usability of Chrysler’s. I noted only one part of the interior that appeared cheap, a faux chrome start button. They’re already planning to change the finish.

Black interior with real aluminum trim.

Look forward over the hood, and the driving position could hardly be better. The instrument panel seems lower and less massive than in a BMW, the A-pillars are downright dainty by current standards, and, in some refreshingly original thinking, the armrests are at different heights to support the left arm while steering and the right arm while shifting. The steering wheel has a smaller diameter than the standard GM tiller, and its rim isn’t overly padded. The front seats could be better. With headrests that adjust fore and aft and side bolsters that, on the top two of the four trim levels, adjust in and out, the right boxes were checked. But even at full-tight the bolsters provide only middling lateral support. They’re undersized and the center of the seatback feels slightly convex instead of concave. As with the exterior styling, GM has avoided driving away any potential buyers (in this case the widest ones). They could have offered more aggressively bolstered seats as a standalone option rather than making these “sport buckets” mandatory on the top two trim levels, but this would have driven up build combinations (more on this later).

Front seat set for 5’9″ driver. Can go back 2-3 more inches.

Jump from the front seat to the back, and if you’re over six feet tall (luckily, I’m not) you’ll wish you hadn’t. Second row leg room isn’t far off that in a Mercedes-Benz C-Class or Audi A4, but the latest BMW 3-Series has vaulted well ahead of the field in this area. Multiple ATS team members confided that they hadn’t foreseen the 3er getting so much bigger than their car. When I pointed out that the F30 is only three-tenths of an inch longer than the ATS, 182.5 vs. 182.2, and so still far from CTS territory (191.6), one of them noted that overall length isn’t the best indicator, as the small Cadillac has pointier ends. The BMW’s wheelbase is significantly longer, 110.6 vs. 109.3, and the additional inch-plus seems to have gone entirely into rear seat knee room.

Intrusive suspension and goose neck hinges.

But rear seat room isn’t the ATS’s largest weakness. The Cadillac’s trunk volume barely tops ten cubic feet. This is a fair distance short of the previous-generation 3’s twelve (matched by the C-Class and A4), and far less than the new one’s seventeen. What happened? Judging from the intrusiveness of the rear suspension, GM might have given ride and handling much higher priorities than cargo volume when making tradeoffs.

Note holes punched to save weight.

Actually, there’s no question that handling was the team’s top priority. They wanted to beat the 3-Series in direct competition, by being better at what it does best, and the BMW hasn’t dominated the segment for three decades by having the biggest trunk. The ATS team designed every excess gram out of its body structure and employed significant amounts of high-strength steel, aluminum, and even magnesium to get the curb weight to 3,315 pounds with the 201-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder base engine, 3,373 with the 272-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four, and 3,461 with the 321-horsepower 3.6-liter V6. A CTS with the same V6 weighs nearly a quarter-ton more. A 240-horsepower BMW 328i automatic weighs 3,410 pounds, a 300-horsepower 335i weighs 3,555. The ATS team is rightly proud of this win. Beyond curb weight, the team fitted a BMW-like double-pivot front suspension, developed Cadillac’s first five-link rear suspension (a mere 30 years after the pioneering W201 Benz), optimized the angles of all of the beautiful alloy suspension links, and forward rack-mounted an electric power steering (EPS) unit by ZF (which also supplies Audi and BMW). They then called on the same people who made the heavyweight CTS-V dance to fine tune the half-ton-lighter new car.

Lots of aluminum.

Jump back into the front seat to evaluate their work, and you’ll find a very balanced, highly precise, fairly agile, and altogether pleasant-handling car. Damping seems much better than in the latest, looser 3-Series even without the FE3 suspension’s magnetic ride control shocks, and especially with them. With rear-wheel-drive and a limited-slip rear differential (included with the FE3 suspension or the manual transmission with either suspension), the rear end can be rotated progressively with the throttle much like in the CTS. (As in the larger car it helps to switch the stability control out of its slightly too conservative default mode.) The front brakes are strong Brembos with all but the base trim 2.5. This is an easy car to drive quickly along a curvy road.

What you won’t find, due to a combination of EPS and a desire to appeal to mainstream luxury car buyers, is steering that communicates every nuance of what is going on where the rubber meets the road. I suspect they’re withholding this for a future V. Even as it stands, the Cadillac’s moderately light steering feels at least as good as that in the Audi or BMW, much less the hopelessly numb Mercedes. It’s a precision instrument, just not an overtly engaging one.

Five links.

On the streets of north Georgia, the ATS rode well, even with the firmer FE3 suspension. Aiming for the largest road imperfections, I failed to elicit a harsh reaction. But the largest road imperfections in north Georgia aren’t very large. A more thorough ride evaluation must await a week-long test in Michigan. Noise levels aren’t the lowest, but they are fairly low, partly due to active noise reduction (via the speakers). As in many cars, rough concrete poses the toughest challenge.

It’s tempting to write off the 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine (a new generation Ecotec) as suited only for people who care nothing for performance. But, facing the lowest expectations, it actually performs well enough in the ATS that in the north Georgia hills I didn’t find myself wishing for one of the others. Refinement is also very good for a four—and better than with the turbo 2.0-liter (also new, not the same engine found in the Buick Regal GS).

The boosted engine definitely feels stronger, but not to the extent suggested by the specs or the stopwatch (5.7 vs. 7.5 seconds to 60), and it sounds buzzier when revved. It’s not the sort of racket produced by earlier GM fours, just a soundtrack more suited to basic transportation. A car that performs as well and costs as much as the ATS deserves a less pedestrian-sounding engine. The V6 feels stronger still when revved (GM claims 5.4 seconds to 60, and it makes a larger difference over 60), but it lacks the midrange punch of the boosted sixes in the Audi S4 and BMW 335i. The V6 has a much throatier sound than the fours, but also could sound more like well-tuned high performance machinery (the heretofore unmentioned Lexus IS gets a win in this area). All three engines are passable, but none stands out the way the chassis does. If you want the well-executed manual transmission, then your decision among the three engines is made for you. The base four and V6 are auto-only.

Set well back, for 50-50 weight distribution with manual transmission.

EPA ratings with the three engines, automatic transmission, and rear-wheel drive are 22/33, 22/32, and 19/28, respectively. The fours are close to the admirable figures achieved by the latest BMW, the V6 not so much. GM notes that the ZF transmission in the BMW has two more ratios, for a total of eight, but there’s more to the story than this. The far heavier CTS tests nearly as well, 18/27. Reasonably precise real world figures will require more time in the car. Hustling a 2.0T ATS with all-wheel-drive through the hills, I observed low twenties on the trip computer. In straight highway in an all-wheel-drive V6, I observed 26. While the automatic transmission functions well in performance driving, it needs more ratios to deliver class-leading fuel economy.

At Atlanta Motorsports Park.

So, how much are those upholstered interior panels, fancy suspension bits, and pricey alloys going to set you back? The Cadillac ATS starts at $33,990. Add $1,805 for the turbo (available with all four trim levels), but deduct $1,180 for the manual transmission. Add $2,000 for all-wheel drive, which can’t be paired with the manual transmission or the base engine. For leather, you choice of interior trims (wood, aluminum, carbon fiber), a folding rear seat, CUE (optional on the base trim), additional amenities, and the option of adding the V6 for another $1,800 on top of the turbo four, step up to the $38,485 “Luxury” trim. For the sport buckets, xenon headlights, and shift paddles, you must opt for the $42,790 “Performance” trim. This price also includes the formerly optional turbo four, Bose surround sound, and a basic safety package. The last includes forward collision alert and a lane departure warning that vibrates the seat instead of beeping—much less annoying. But the folding rear seat is lost. To regain the folding rear seat, and add magnetic ride control shocks, quicker steering, firmer FE3 tuning, and a head-up display, you must get the $45,790 “Premium” trim (deduct $1,475 for the manual). This price also includes 18-inch wheels and navigation, both optional on the mid-level trims. Put another way, to get the best-handling ATS you must also get the most expensive ATS.

Sound like BMW territory? Close, but not quite. A 2012 328i starts nearly even with the 2.0T ATS, $35,795, but includes less standard equipment. Equip the BMW to the same level, and it lists for $2,545 more than the Cadillac. But adjust for remaining feature differences using TrueDelta’s car price comparison tool, and the Cadillac’s advantage is a mere $1,290. Load both cars up, and this advantage becomes more substantial, with a sticker of $47,440 vs. the BMW’s $52,310 (for a difference of $4,870). The adjustment for feature differences is negligible. Other competitors cost less than the BMW. The Infiniti G37 remains the segment’s bargain play.

Tan interior with real wood trim.

Overall, the Cadillac isn’t priced low enough to sell based on price alone, but isn’t priced so high that even those who prefer it will opt for the much more established BMW…unless you happen to require the most athletic suspension, and little else. In this case, the BMW lists for over $5,000 less with a manual transmission, and over $6,500 less with an automatic. Yes, the Cadillac includes about $7,000 in mandatory additional features, but some enthusiasts won’t want them.

I pressed a number of ATS team members about this inflexible packaging. Their response was that they had to keep the build combinations very low, 915 to be precise. GM feels that matching the BMW’s 1.2 million build combinations would substantially drive up costs and harm quality. I believe that they believe this, but I’m nevertheless skeptical. How does it significantly help cost or quality to always install nav when you install the FE3 suspension? I don’t doubt that reducing manufacturing complexity helps, but I don’t think all additional build combinations are equally harmful (as assumed by GM math).

Another rationale makes more sense. One team member said that they’re undercharging for the adaptive shocks and other FE3 bits. Since these are deleted when AWD is added, some easy math yields a $900 price. This is cheap. To make this low price financially viable, they must force you into a heavily optioned (and so more profitable) car to get it. Personally, I’d much rather see the FE3 suspension available on lesser trims, even if it then had to cost more. Until then, I’d advise people uninterested in all of the Premium’s features (or at least uninterested in paying $45,000+) to settle for an FE2 car. I drove the two suspensions along the same road, and while the FE3 car handles better the difference is far from night and day. The character of the car remains the same.

Aside from rear seat room, trunk capacity, and option packaging, the Cadillac ATS approaches, meets, or beats the 3-Series in every area. The car’s curb weight might be only a little lower than the BMW’s, but even this represents a seismic change for GM. A large number of details done right suggests a well-functioning team that intensively studied the market. Interior styling and handling are clear strengths. I had hoped for a more visceral driving experience, but luxury car manufacturers typically reserve such an experience for special performance variants with stratospheric price tags. If I had to choose from among the cars that are actually available in the segment, this would be the one.

Cadillac provided the tested cars, fuel, insurance, airfare to Atlanta, one night in a nice hotel , very good food, and five laps around Atlanta Motorsports Park (two of them with a driver far more skilled than I am).

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta.com, an online source of car reliability and real-world fuel economy information.

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Nissan Breaks Ground In Tennesee For Daimler JV Engine Plant http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/nissan-breaks-ground-in-tennesee-for-daimler-jv-engine-plant/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/nissan-breaks-ground-in-tennesee-for-daimler-jv-engine-plant/#comments Thu, 10 May 2012 21:08:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=443832 Nissan broke ground on a new engine plant expected to come online in 2014. The plant will build 4-cylinder gasoline engines for Infiniti cars as well as the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. The plant will add 400 jobs and produce as many as 250,000 engines per year. Nissan produced a range of 4, 6 and 8-cylinder engines […]

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Nissan broke ground on a new engine plant expected to come online in 2014. The plant will build 4-cylinder gasoline engines for Infiniti cars as well as the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

The plant will add 400 jobs and produce as many as 250,000 engines per year. Nissan produced a range of 4, 6 and 8-cylinder engines at the plant, located in Decherd, a small town near Nashville.

The post Nissan Breaks Ground In Tennesee For Daimler JV Engine Plant appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

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