By on November 12, 2014

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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105 Comments on “Capsule Review: 2015 Mercedes-Benz C400 4Matic...”


  • avatar

    I look forward to AMG version.

    • 0 avatar
      randgrey

      Trust me, there is little to look forward to.

      From issues with components not properly installed on delivery, door seals unraveling a week into ownership, two recalls, a lack of comfort in the cabin so extreme I don’t drive the car long distances, an engine stall in the street (sans key), service issues, and finally, unreliability; my Mercedes C400 experience has been pretty disappointing.

      Intuitive? It’s smart enough to start without a key, and stupid enough to stay in start mode and drain your battery, How smart is that.

      I recently found out. After meter parking the car in NYC, and returning several times to re-load the meter and re-display my ticket inside the car’s dash window, locking the car every time, the car remained in active start mode until the battery died, with no error or warning message.

      Smart? If there is no active start (after pressing the start button) after a period of time–perhaps this super smart car should inform the occupant, via its intuitive messaging system (no one but Mercedes can decode your car— so they tell me), that if no ignition is attempted within X period of time, the power will terminate, and preserve battery life. Now, that would be smart. The C400 is not that smart.

      At less than 3500 miles, the battery died and two attempts (one of which was by Mercedes) failed to remedy the problem without dealer interference, some 60 miles and two days away. Think about that. You are stuck in the middle of no where (to you, anyway), with a dead battery. Mercedes roadside assistance fails to charge the battery or offer any other diagnostics on the car, and leaves you to tow to their dealership, where only they can remedy the issue. Why? The C400 apparently needed an extra long charge, longer than another driver, a tow truck or their own roadside assistance could seem to achieve when they attempted to jumpstart the car. A stalled battery is one thing– and arguably my own fault. But who wants a car so smart it won’t take a charge from anyone but Mercedes? While I believe the battery had, in fact, juiced itself into a coma, I also believe something went array with the car’s electrical and computer system, and the error was one that only Mercedes could clear. How’s that for holding yourself accountable!
      I had another safety issue with my car. One morning as I was rushing to work, I got in the car (kids in tow), started her up, and reversed into the street when the car stalled. Realizing I forgot my key, which was some twenty feet away, inside my house, it dawned on me how incredible it is that I was able to start my car and pull into a busy street, with no key in close proximity.
      I could go on and on…
      My dealership insists there is nothing wrong with these cars and sales are robust. I did note that after the dealership recently serviced the car, it no longer started unless the key was present, on my person. And the messaging system now prompts for it as well. I hope Mercedes will proactively recall any C400’s with a safety issue and correct any defects in its messaging/electrical systems, if found, of course. Safety should be their top priority.
      Not smart, but it sure can perform on the open road. Best car I’ve ever driven. But like anything with astounding beauty and pedigree, it’s simply too high maintenance, too cold, and now, too unreliable to be practical.
      Back to Audi. Tail between legs. Sigh.
      BTW, I offered my C400 back to the dealership (with less than 3500 miles). Not surprisingly, they passed.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I’m sure it’s nice enough, but it really does look like they took the the last-gen W204 let it melt in the sun.

    This is not an attractive car, at least not in sedan form.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Very true. That’s my main problem with it, aside from the base price which is ludicrous.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      I wholeheartedly agree, particularly about that tragic stern and the beltline that hits its high point at the B pillar. Very awkward looking and gives the impression of the back end squatting as if the rear shocks were cooked.

      Shame, because that interior looks absolutely gorgeous to me from both a design and materials perspective.

    • 0 avatar
      bts

      I’ve noticed the tail end of the most recent MB’s look awkward, but it’s most likely a case of aerodynamics. With a Prius beating 0.24 coefficient of drag, I’d say it has a right to.

  • avatar
    DeeDub

    That screen looks like a Galaxy Note phablet stuck to the dash with a Walmart phone dock. What a lazy, ugly mistake.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Wow, it does, but I think the concept is good, update your screen with new technology. The execution is just very low-end

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      Seriously, it looks like an afterthought. I went looking for a car a few months ago, the Mazda 3 was on my list. It has a similar stick on screen. For me that’s enough of a turnoff to where I didn’t even bother to test drive it.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Agreed, but that’s about the only low point in the interior.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      It’s horrid. Completely ruins what is otherwise a beautiful interior.

      I’d much prefer a retractable screen like you find in several Audis.

      • 0 avatar
        cirats

        I’ve always thought retractable screens were silly – just something else to break. I’ve never had a car with one, but isn’t it always going to be up when you are in the car anyway, and won’t waiting for it to come up always result in a little extra unnecessary delay getting going if you like to just start the car and go? Maybe I’m unusually impatient, but I already don’t like the 3 or 4 seconds I have to wait between starting my current car (G35) and the back-up camera showing up so I can be sure I’m not running over some kids toy backing out of the garage.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          I hear you, but I’ll take the delay in exchange for a) having the big, bright, distracting screen disappear when I’m not using it and b) getting rid of that awful growth on the dash.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          “3 or 4 seconds I have to wait between starting my current car (G35)”

          You start the car in park. You must shift to reverse for the backup cam to show up, which happens instantly.

          You’re speaking of the time when the car is starting up and you have to see the Infiniti logo? Things are loading, I don’t see how you can get around that. Just put your seat belt on as it’s starting and timing will work out fine.

        • 0 avatar
          darkwing

          It’s all about how it’s executed. In my Audi, the screen starts moving as soon as you hit the start button, and it’s up and live by the time the engine’s done turning over. Shift into reverse and it’s right there.

        • 0 avatar
          Dave M.

          He he, you impatient man. My Outback shows the rear view instantly, but as you start backing up a huge black box appears on screen and you get the message that your phone has successfully connected.

          Good, I’ll need it to call 9-1-1 for the child/puppy/Big Wheel I just knocked off…

    • 0 avatar
      olddavid

      Surely it disappears into the dash with a button touch? When driving to pick up my son at work, we pass Daimler/Freightliner. These C’s have just started appearing in the worker parking lot. They seem to be replacing the E 4Matic from the previous generation. I guess the turbo makes up for the loss of two cylinders. All I can be sure of is that they must have a hell of an employee discount plan. And, they have the gravitas that the C class seemed to lack in older iterations.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      “That screen looks like a Galaxy Note phablet stuck to the dash with a Walmart phone dock. What a lazy, ugly mistake.”

      Sadly, that is 100% the look they were going for. It is completely intentional. They could have molded it into the dash, but wanted this look. It is supposed to attract gen Y buyers who like their tablets.

  • avatar
    koshchei

    It’s as if you fed the dealership brochure through an OCR service.

    • 0 avatar
      Truckducken

      I am also disappointed. There’s too much snark to let me take the reviewer’s impressions seriously. With the exception of hp rating, I now know less about this car than I did before I read the review.

      • 0 avatar
        windnsea00

        I was wondering if I was the only one finding the article poorly written, definitely not a smooth one to go through.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          I’ve noticed this about many of Mr. Cain’s reviews. There’s just a bit too much wordsmithing and not enough straight-forward description.

          This is good:
          “More 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.”

          This is not:
          “No, go and accidentally swipe that touch pad when you meant to pres 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.”

          Criticism done out of respect, though, Tim. I appreciate your efforts and your reviews. Keep ’em coming.

  • avatar
    jmo

    Oh how I want one. I’m sort of afraid to test drive it as I might very well come home with one.

  • avatar
    Syke

    So, I assume, its Mercedes’ attitude of, “we don’t make anything other than luxury cars” towards Americans being at the core of their refusal to bring over the A-class and B-class cars (in their honest form, none of this CLA crap)? And, of course, Americans are sucker enough to buy it.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    Too bad they are using the “column shift” from the B Class. That thing is completely useless and unintuitive. Putting it in “Drive” is like setting the time on a 1980s digital clock.

    For those who haven’t tried it, it springs back to a center position, like a turn signal. You can’t operate it by feel and muscle memory, you need to look at the dash. Even a rotary knob is better.

    • 0 avatar
      Maxb49

      What’s wrong with a column shift? Some of us prefer it.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        As he said, it’s not a “standard” column shift; it’s some strange thing that acts more like a turn signal, at the physical level.

        Which is … novel.

        (Me, I’m just angry at MB and BMW for both lying to me about displacements.

        This “C400” does not have a 4 liter engine.

        This would not bother me except, well, *those numbers used to mean that*.

        I don’t want “it’s equivalent to some notional 4 liter engine somewhere”; just call it a C300. Communicate relative power levels somewhere else … or trust your customers who care to actually look at the horsepower and torque numbers.

        Bastards.)

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      I’ve never really had a problem with the Benz column shifter – it’s a little different, but works just fine once you’re used to it. Tap down for drive, tap up for reverse, hit the button for park is all fairly straightforward. Neutral’s a little fiddly though.

      Still, similar motions to BMW’s shifter.

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        I also don’t see a problem with it. It should really be popular in the US since that means there is now room to put your big gulp in the center console. The old style column shifter you had to be accurate with, easy to miss drive. Here it’s down for drive, up for reverse. How is that difficult?

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Agree that this is one area where automakers needn’t reinvent the wheel unless they can provide something truly better, like hover technology.

      Similar complaints were made about the console “E-shifter” (the handle not the rotary knob) on 2011-14 Chrysler products with the 8 speed trans. The 2015 E-shifters now have detent positions for each gear like a conventional shifter. So much more satisfying.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    Down the road I’d like to pick up a 6-speed C300. I think 2011 was the last year with the manual? It checks off many of the boxes. Have those been fairly reliable? If not, I suppose there’s always the G37.

    • 0 avatar
      Car Ramrod

      Pretty sure 2011 was the last year. I’m looking for one for a friend, and I’ve not seen a newer one (I’ve not seen any 2010 models, but that may be a coincidence). Seems like the performance to MPG ratio is a little rough though.

    • 0 avatar
      MBella

      They’re very solid. The engines halfway through ’08 have the updated balance shaft sprocket. There isn’t much that breaks on those.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      Good luck finding one. Even on the G37, manuals are surprisingly tough to find. Furthermore, I think they are only available on the coupe.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    The only truly sour note in the old model, assuming you weren’t into hooning, was the interior. It did succeed in driving a lot like a bigger Benz.

    From the pictures, though, I’d say they’ve crafted the best interior in the segment.

    • 0 avatar
      baconator

      I test drove one – the interior is really special. The big sweep of matte wood on the console looks amazing, and all the details are great to look at and touch. Buttons that look like metal *are* metal. Best interior in segment by a large margin.

      The 400 is also surprisingly fast in a straight line – noticeably faster than a 335i or an S4. The handling is not sporty, but it’s competent and the ride is comfortable. For the uses that most customers will have for it, this is a great car.

  • avatar
    VW16v

    Does the C class have that sit low feeling with a high belt line as in the GLA? The GLA is a poorly designed car. I test drove a GLA, one of the worst drivingcars that I’ve driven years. The C class looks like a winner.

  • avatar
    Chicago Dude

    I’ve driven the C300 4Matic 5 or 6 times and agree that MB marched to their own drummer on this car – with incredible success.

    They even managed to build options packages that allow you to get exactly what you want and nothing of what you don’t, which makes their pricing really reasonable compared to BMW.

    I’d say that there are two major reasons that I’m not an owner. First, the cars that they are sending to dealers are a hot mess of those options packages. A custom order is almost a requirement for this car. They have hyped the AIRMATIC suspension, but good luck finding one. That piano black trim that you don’t like? Why is it there? They have a black ash wood trim that is incredible as a $325 option (or free with some combinations). The Linden wood trim is also great. The walnut, not so much. But the most common trims you’ll find on lots are piano black and walnut. Ugh. Secondly, the color choices are just bad. Two shades of white. Two shades of black. Two shades of grey. Two shades of silver. And dark blue. Seriously, what were they thinking?

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      I think they’re thinking that their actual paying customers aren’t buying red and green and brown in a C300.

      Probably they’re right, as much as I like cars in actual colors…

      (Why no green, MB? Why no *reed green*?)

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    The interior looks very solid and sculpted. I especially like that shot of the door panel with the brushed metal and the speaker. It all looks very Bosch dishwasher, and that’s a good thing.

    But I’m sorry $49,000 base (and we know how quickly that goes up with M-B) for a little C-Class? FORTY-NINE!?

    That’s two grand more than the starting price on a GS, and the same starting price as the GX (both of which will have MUCH more equipment, and are larger). The Infiniti flagship Q70 starts at $49,850.

    EDIT: And for the record I do not like the exterior. At all.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      ” It all looks very Bosch dishwasher”

      Consumer Reports is going to love it

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      Corey,

      The C300 is the base C-Class at $40,000 or so. The C400 replaces the old C350, for those who want to spend a bit more.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        That’s STILL a lotta money! Too much, for this size car, and the lack of cachet which comes with a C-Class.

        • 0 avatar
          jmo

          It is small. But, it’s plenty big enough for most buyers. The negative cachet with the C-Class has always that it was the cheapest. But, now that it’s $10k more, and $10k nicer and they have the CLA for the bargain hunters, it no longer has that negative.

    • 0 avatar
      Mike N.

      It’s priced comparably to a 335xi, high base price notwithstanding.

      I went to the MB and BMW configurators and priced out a C400 4matic and a 335xi similarly equipped:

      A C400 4matic w/ metallic paint, Interior package (vented leather seats with memory), Multimedia package (navigation and rear view camera), HUD, and destination totaled $56,125.

      A 335xi w/ Luxury Line (18″ wheels, sport steering wheel), metallic paint, Premium package (leather seats, keyless entry and go), Tech pacage (navigation and rear view camera, and HUD), Harman Kardon sound, and destination $55,175.

      Another thing to consider, for those who are about these things, is that you (can) get a German made 335xi (you can guarantee that by doing a European delivery) whereas you get a US made C400.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Exterior will not age well. Rear end suffers from dog-drag-arse-syndrome.

    Interior is quite nice (but silver plastic trim needs to just die; find another, better way to break up color & interior dash scheme, OEMs), especially if fit/finish is as nice in person.

    Base price means this will get to 60k+ quickly which is a lot for a small sedan, MB or not.

    Bring out poverty spec one with row your own gears, empty stereo slot (I’ll put aftermarket system in with video game style EQ in gaudy neon color) and crank windows for $39,999 otherwise I’m buying slightly used for 40% less if I were buying.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Wait is that trim on the door panel not real metal?

      If it’s plastic then I hate it.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      “Rear end suffers from dog-drag-arse-syndrome”

      I’ve been looking for the proper nomenclature for this condition ever since the late 90s Maximas showed up with their slightly descending front-to-rear beltlines.

      I’ve got toddlers, so when i see it I think more along the lines of “loaded diaper syndrome”.

      The weirdest thing is the beltline being highest at the B pillar. Makes it look like the car was dropped on a rail and bent at the midsection. That ugly pug runt of a CLA has this too. And now they’ve gone and done it to the E class as well, which was to my eye the stateliest and most regal of the 3-box sedans. Ruined.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I think you do not mean late 90s, as they were straight on, as were the starchier I30s.

        http://images.thecarconnection.com/med/1999-nissan-maxima-gxe_100027835_m.jpg

        I think you mean 2000+.

        http://carphotos.cardomain.com/ride_images/1/858/1061/2143030008_large.jpg

        The true initiator of this drag-arse was the J30, back in 93. Or perhaps the bustle back Seville, but that was sort of a one-off.

        http://static.cargurus.com/images/site/2008/03/28/13/46/1994_infiniti_j30_4_dr_std_sedan-pic-35293.jpeg

        Note: I feel Infiniti did pearl white and mesh wheels in a very LEGIT way.

      • 0 avatar
        Chicago Dude

        They call it the dropping line, and it has a long history in luxury automobiles:

        http://thecarcrush.com/blog/2013/8/is-a-new-renaissance-of-automotive-design-dawning

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          Thanks for the link. There are some beautiful cars in that article and the dropping line works well on them, especially that 1961 300D. Lovely car.

          That theme isn’t translating well into modern cars, in my opinion. It looked classy in the 60s, but very awkward now, as if they tried to put fins back on a new Cadillac without changing the rest of the design language to make it work.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            There is a difference though. Look at all those classic examples. What have they got? A squared trunk lid (back when literal trunks went into them), and a totally separate rear wheel arch, which has it’s OWN fender line coming up and then back down. The grace of that fender line was a nice contrast to the taller square trunk.

            Neither of those details happen today. Trunk lids are low and round (per aero for MPG, and per “coupe” lines fetishism), and there sure as hell aren’t any separate rear fender flares on anything outside of a dually pickup.

            I call bunk on this modern “interpretation” of a lovely historical detail. It’s a fail.

          • 0 avatar
            Chicago Dude

            I think it works well on the new S-Class. The C-Class in these photos has the sport package and it’s not quite so good. The luxury package version looks a lot better in this regard (you have to see it in person), but you need the air suspension and optional wheels to really get the look right. Take a look at these photos:

            http://ecomento.com/2013/12/16/mercedes-confirms-hybrid-plug-hybrid-versions-2015-c-class/

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Inspiration for rear end design of new MB C Class:

            http://www.k-9superheroesdogwhispering.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/dogpooping.jpg

        • 0 avatar
          baconator

          Great link – thanks!

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      “but silver plastic trim needs to just die”

      It’s real not plastic.

      “Real wood and metal adorn a cabin with first-rate materials from the dashboard to the doors.”

      http://blogs.cars.com/kickingtires/2014/08/2015-mercedes-benz-c-class-first-drive.html

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      I can appreciate that it’s real, and thanks for clarifying.

      I still think, even with effort of using real aluminum, that it’s too much, especially on the steering wheel, which gives an aesthetic effect of steering wheels on cars costing 1/3 as much.

      Plus, that has to get really hot to the touch and cause glare points, especially in sunny climates.

      I should have been even more descriptive about rear of car: It has dog-dragging-poop-arse-across-carpet look.

    • 0 avatar
      Mike N.

      It’s priced comparably to a 335xi, high base price notwithstanding.

      I went to the MB and BMW configurators and priced out a C400 4matic and a 335xi similarly equipped:

      A C400 4matic w/ metallic paint, Interior package (vented leather seats with memory), Multimedia package (navigation and rear view camera), HUD, and destination totaled $56,125.

      A 335xi w/ Luxury Line (18″ wheels, sport steering wheel), metallic paint, Premium package (leather seats, keyless entry and go), Tech pacage (navigation and rear view camera, and HUD), Harman Kardon sound, and destination $55,175.

      Another thing to consider, for those who are about these things, is that you (can) get a German made 335xi (you can guarantee that by doing a European delivery) whereas you get a US made C400.

    • 0 avatar
      GS 455

      And you can’t balance a glass of champagne on a dog-drag-arse.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    The C-Class really benefited from the CLA. It’s no longer the Benz-for-the-sake-of-being-a-Benz.

    It’s a real Mercedes now.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      So, all you gotta do if you want to make your smallest model have lots of credibility and “realness,” is make a smaller model?!

      Nonsense, the C-Class is still a little Merc for people who can’t afford real ones, which start at the E-Class. :)

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        The smaller model freed Benz to take the C-Class upscale and raise the price accordingly. This is the first time it’s had a real Benz interior. This one is leagues ahead of any previous C-Class in luxuriousness.

  • avatar

    I wholeheartedly agree. Honestly, I’m grateful for the CLA-Class because it has allowed the C-Class to mature into what Mercedes-Benz does best…a luxury limousine…a sawed-off S-Class. Quite frankly, the “sport-sedan-3-Series-chaser” segment is getting to be overcrowded, and has spawned several cars that try to justify their spartan, cramped or otherwise-compromised accommodations by being “sporty”. The C-Class has broken away from that niche to become a bona-fide luxury car, and a Mercedes-Benz that you can be proud of. And on top of that, it’s got plenty of hustle and road feel, not as much as a 3-Series or IS, but probably more than most people would be able to appreciate. The design is beautiful and all of the materials are befitting of a car at this price-point; you don’t have to look around and wonder why you paid $48K for what basically amounts to a Ford Focus with $20K’ worth of “luxury” styling. It’s also quite comfortable. I think this car outclasses both the 3-Series and the “German Buick” that is the 5-Series, and if I were looking for a small luxury car, this would be my first choice. Younger and conquest customers (mainly people my age) will go gaga over the CLA-Class and GLA-Class, but it won’t satisfy the traditional buyers. Mercedes-Benz was smart for seriously considering what its loyal customers would want in a small car. If Cadillac (which has a similar clientele) had done the same, the ATS would not have thousands of dollars’ worth of incentives on the hood.

    • 0 avatar
      energetik9

      While the C-class needed some evolutionalry work, I suspect that Mercedes has now moved this car up to an older demogrpahic. Both by price and by style. I don’t think buyers will cross shop a C-class with a BMW 3-series or IS as easily as they once would. BMW already has a younger demographic and I’m sure the IS demographic is right there with the 3 series.

      But, Mercedes IS trying to target BMW and Audi. Mercedes even compares them directly in the press release for the new C-class. I think they overshot straight to an older buyer.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        I don’t think so, necessarily. I think they have just significantly broadened its appeal. The last 2 generations were really in the wilderness… it was not really clear what the point of those cars were. This one has a clear objective- S Class luxury in a 3 series size. And I think it’s the RIGHT focus. This thing is honed to shine during the kind of driving people are doing 99% of the time- highway cruising, crawling in traffic, moving at a 4/10ths pace on a twisty road, at the expense of the 1% of at the limit driving people may do if they are enthusiasts or if they are doing an emergency maneuver. It’s really brilliant.

        And to be honest, the 3 series lead the way in that. Lot of reviews complain that the 3 has gone soft, but business wise that was the way to go. It has to spread its appeal to retain its top slot. This is no longer the “sport sedan” segment… it is the entry level luxury segment, and this C-class is the official car of that change.

  • avatar
    jmo

    I wonder if the long term goal is for the C to be the new E, the E to be the S and move the S up to be a Bentley/Rolls rival?

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Dimensionally, all of this has pretty much already happened. The C/3 are the size of old E/5s, and it continues up the range. Only anomalies are the SWB 7/S, which have grown, but nowhere near as much as the rest. From that point of view luxury cars today are a bargain. A 328i is a couple ticks short of an E39 540i in a straight line. 335i is within body range of an E39 M5. Interior/exterior differences, most importantly wheelbase, are within <1" in most cases. We are in a real golden age for performance and value.

  • avatar

    Cadillac should have done this. It should have considered what a small car *should* mean for a Cadillac, instead of trying to duke it out with the 3-Series (a game Cadillac will not be able to win). The ATS alienates both traditional customers who are looking for a smaller car, and new customers, who realize how sorely compromised it is, and in all the wrong ways. This is especially relevant in light of an earlier TTAC post pertaining to layoffs at the ATS/CTS factory.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Yep

      The “me too” 3 fighters are dead. Majority of buyers in this segment care more about luxury than sport… you don’t have to beat on your car or drive like an idiot on the street to appreciate luxury. I made a post before that got lost in the ether but I basically said Mercedes made a master play here. I would not be surprised if this generation surpassed the 3 series in sales.

      Winning in this hyper-competitive market comes down to creating your own space/sub-market, NOT trying to crowd someone else’s space- especially if what you think defines that space (in the ATS/CTS’ case, sportiness) is of increasingly declining relevance to the market, and ESPECIALLY if you have limited resources and/or end up losing sight of the things that actually matter to customers in that space (CUE, rear seat room, fuel economy, availability of an honest to God N/A V8). Audi did it with the A4 (AWD was not available at all in this class in 1996); Infiniti did it with the G35 (280 HP was the kind of power reserved for $60K V8 luxury cars)… and outside of this segment countless others have done it (ES, RX, 300C etc). MB is too shrewd man… this shows how well they are reading the pulse of the market. BMW is not far behind either- the softening of their whole sedan lineup was no accident.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Agreed 98%. I think Cadillac did not need to create the Alpha platform to launch its revival. If GM were clever it could have created something with this focus on luxury based on a FWD platform. I can hear the groans already. But if it were done right (i.e., IMO, a Cadillac A7 for $40-50K), it would do really really well without necessitating a new platform. People are concerned with comfort, technology, luxury and performance that is beyond adequate- all of this is achievable without a RWD platform.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “But if it were done right (i.e., IMO, a Cadillac A7 for $40-50K)”

        Oldsmobile did it.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          GM had their timing wrong. The time for the sporty ATS/CTS was when they made the Aurora. And if they did a Caddy Aurora now, they would have to get all the details right. It would need an exterior that could make people stop and stare like a full figured woman in Spanish Harlem. And it would need an interior and technology to continue on the theme. Wouldn’t have to be expensive… just well designed and well executed, with all the important details spot on. Instead GM pretty much got all the unimportant things right, and got all the important things wrong.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    The column shifter looks suspiciously like a windshield wiper switch.

  • avatar
    wmba

    O yus, luverly car. Wot, a free-standing phablet for nav? You can geddit on a Mazda3 for 20 grand. As for the shift lever made of bendy plastic, reminds me of a phat BIC ballpoint pen. Luxury.

    Plus, you get to drive it into a wall for free, because workers did not properly instsll a steering part

    From Reuters yesterday:

    ” DETROIT (Reuters) – Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz unit is recalling 10,509 C-Class compacts from model year 2015 in the United States because some cars can lose steering function at low speed.

    Mercedes said it had reports of two incidents from outside the United States alleging loss of steering. No injuries were reported.

    The automaker said production workers did not properly install a steering component on some C300 and C400 models equipped with four-wheel drive.

    Owners have been notified and dealers will repair the cars at no charge.”

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    Is it just one big windshield wiper like it used to be??? #Blushes like a schoolgirl

    These cars are so solid its unbelievable. Like riding in a damned safe.

    That 7-speed auto is wretched. I’s got one in my GLK. It’s the hunting type, especially in stop-and-go driving.

    But make no mistake about it. THIS is a nice car.

    Way to go, MB. #applause

  • avatar
    Acubra

    The “review” smells OEM PR Machine from a mile away.
    One Mr. Baruth lamented earlier on the demise of a true luxury and craft, being substituted by the above plastichrome wrapper, more akin to new riches and wannabe-riches, rather than true “old money”.

    But being a true lover of all things automotive, I try to dwell deeper – under the hood, underneath, and unfortunately there is nothing “crafted” or “premium” there. Subpar plastic everything, that deteriorates in a few years, electronic components that as well will hardly last past warranty?..

    It is not luxury, it is fooling the buyer – who, I presume from the comments above, is well conditioned not to look deeper than the skin.

    Or I guess I am just too old, still remembering the Mercs of yore, that truly stood head and shoulders above the competition in any regard.

  • avatar
    energetik9

    I’m glad the author is so infatuated with this car. Too bad there’s all this emphasis on touch points, location of the windshield wipers, and smooth ride instead of any real conversation on how the car actually performs. I would think that most automobile writers know that just discussing “impressive engine specs”, doesn’t really carry any weight, except when it comes to initial press releases.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      “and smooth ride instead of any real conversation on how the car actually performs.”

      The smooth ride, to me at least, is the performance. It’s a luxury car, not a sports car.

      • 0 avatar
        energetik9

        So you would rather hear about a wiper stalk than any discussion about the ride or drive of this car? Really?

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          What do you want, a track day analysis? You seem to be completely missing the point of this review and this car. Everything isn’t about 10/10ths driving and bench racing specs.

      • 0 avatar
        petezeiss

        “The smooth ride, to me at least, is the performance.”

        Yay you, jmo. That’s the only kind of performance that has ever spoken to me. If I ever splurge on a premium car it will be for the floatiest boat I can afford.

        Violent driving is for kids and criminals. I want a hover craft before I need a Hoveround.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          There’s something magic about a truly great ride, but floaty is not great at all in my opinion. It’s just a route to seasickness. Rides in Town Car cabs just make me want to barf.

          The best-riding cars are those that manage to mute bumps and heaves while still maintaining excellent body control and composure, not floating or bouncing. Mercedes in particular has always done very well at this in its big cars. Big BMWs also tend to ride very well.

          • 0 avatar
            petezeiss

            You probably just drive too fast.

            I do nothing to impart momentum that requires excellent body control and composure.

            Put modern brakes, tires and seatbelts on a ’68 LTD and I would ask for no more.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            It’s not really about fast driving, it’s about broken pavement, frost heaves, expansion joints, and potholes. Maybe you live somewhere where all the pavement is good. In any big northern city your ’68 LTD would be bounding in every direction after bumps, even if my grandma were driving.

          • 0 avatar
            petezeiss

            “Maybe you live somewhere where all the pavement is good.”

            I guess I do.

        • 0 avatar
          energetik9

          I guess if that’s what you desire then more power to you. Just seems silly that the author reviews a $50k+ car with 330hp and a twin turbo V6 and there is no discussion on how the car drives beyond “smooth”. Seems such a waste. If that is the criteria (and I do apologize for any perceived sarcasm), why not just shop a Buick?

          • 0 avatar
            petezeiss

            “why not just shop a Buick?”

            I am. But there’s always the possibility that some special kraut Fingerspitzengefühl could make even a lower tier MB super cushy in a way no untermenschlich manufacturer can.

            OK, that was funny… I’ve never drunk the Kühl Aid again after owning one MB.

            But for someone who *would* pony-up twice the price of a perfectly good Buick, all that go-fast crap might just be a casual consequence of seeking the (purported) world class ride smoothness.

          • 0 avatar
            jmo

            i think a true Mercedes, which I don’t think the CLA is but I think the new C may be, is all about effortless waftability combined with high speed autobahn cruising. To get a Buick ride is fairly easy, to get good high speed performance is fairly easy, but to combine the two take a lot of ingenuity and sophistication and even at lower speeds you can still appreciate a noticeable difference in how the car feels to drive.

          • 0 avatar
            jmo

            The other huge difference between a Buick or an ES 350 and a C class is rear wheel drive. If you’re trying to pull out onto a busy street in a 270bhp Buick or Lexus and you give it the beans, you’ll get: some wheel spin, traction control kicks in, steering wheel shakes and torque steers a bit. Do the same in a similarly powered C and there is vastly less drama as it’s much easier and feels much more natural to route that power through the rear wheels vs the front. To give you a sense of that powerful but effortless and drama free waftability.

        • 0 avatar
          jmo

          Then this is the car for you. Featuring a “sky-hook” air suspension.

          http://www.caranddriver.com/features/ten-japanese-cars-you-cant-have-feature-toyota-century-page-7

          • 0 avatar
            petezeiss

            Your comment above this one is about the best nugget of promotional copy I’ve ever seen.

            It’s been SO long since I’ve owned a RWD sedan that I’m actually referencing my RWD pickup memories to appreciate it.

        • 0 avatar
          Gottleib

          It’s a shame that Citroen’s with their hydro pneumatic suspension aren’t available. I loved the DS21 I had years ago. Somehow Toyota found a way to provide a smooth ride in most of their cars.

          • 0 avatar
            petezeiss

            I would accept just about anything for size, style or price if I could get my hands on an American domestic market hydro pnuematic car.

            It could even look like a Chrysler 300, I wouldn’t care.

  • avatar
    superchan7

    In short, MB has allowed the C-class to come closer to the E-class in size and price. The only wild card is that amazing interior.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      FWIW, the F30 3 series just about matches the E39 5 in most exterior dimensions, outside of length. Most long standing nameplates have moved up a class in size over the last 15-20 years.

      • 0 avatar
        iNeon

        Yeah– this is an old trend, but I fear we’re on the second wave– with Camries and Accords the size of Crown Victorias and the like. I remember back in the day, neon/Stratus/Intrepid seemed HUGE compared to their competitors– neon was the largest compact I’d ever seen circa 1994; it was so roomy, my Mother replaced her first-generation Taurus with one!

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