By on August 29, 2017

2017 Mercedes-Benz C350e luxury grille - Image: Mercedes-BenzThrough the 2017 model year, Americans in search of a traditional entry luxury sedan could spend $350 to swap the Mercedes-Benz C-Class’s badge-emblazoned grille for an old classic.

Three horizontal bars, one vertical support, no badge.

The “Luxury” grille was also accompanied by unique bumper treatment and softer suspension.

But how were you to advertise the fact that you were, in fact, driving a Mercedes-Benz? There was a three-pointed star perched on top, a hood ornament in automotive parlance.

Unfortunately, the C-Class hood ornament that harkened back to a more elegant era has gone the way of crank windows. 

2017 Mercedes-Benz C350e grille hood ornament - Image: Mercedes-BenzRare was the Luxury-packaged C-Class to begin with. According to Car And Driver, dealers didn’t want to stock C-Class sedans with the empty grille/hood ornament combo because buyers, particularly younger buyers, don’t actually want it.

Instead, Mercedes-Benz’s modern grille — seen across the brand’s SUV, coupe, and roadster lineups and on most sedans — includes a large badge that much more ostentatiously advertises the origins of a Benz.

Despite its departure from the C-Class, the hood ornament isn’t entirely dead across Mercedes-Benz’s U.S. lineup. There are E-Class and S-Class variants that continue to operate under traditional Mercedes-Benz styling norms. But sadly, the C-Class sedan joins its coupe and convertible brethren in banishing a classically Benz element.2017 Mercedes-AMG C43 Group - Image: Mercedes-BenzMuch as the three-pointed star standing proudly erect atop a long hood fosters a degree of nostalgia for a time when Mercedes-Benz still represented high-end exclusivity, it’s beginning to look out of place — like a leaper accessorized onto the hood of a Jaguar F-Pace or a wreath-and-crest alighting on a Cadillac CTS’s bonnet.

Unfortunately, relatively small hood ornaments have been replaced by increasingly broad grille emblems, often tasked with accomplishing great technological feats.

“It’s a Mercedes-Benz,” the C-Class’s upright three-pointed star used to say, politely, and with the faux British accent used by an entire generation of American actors.

“IT’S A MERCEDES-BENZ!” the C-Class’s grille now shouts.

[Images: Daimler AG]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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42 Comments on “Want a Mercedes-Benz C-Class Hood Ornament? You’ll Have to Steal One, Which Is What You Always Did Anyway...”

  • avatar

    I really like the modern one in just about every application. The problem was that once every latecomer started copying the old grille (I’m looking at you, Genesis), the new grille at least added some uniqueness. I also wish they would have gotten rid of the flush hood ornament at the same time, but only because I don’t like redundant badging.

  • avatar

    So here’s a question, what are the materials on a classic grille vs a badge one?

    Odds are badge grill is plastic. For the children.

    Additional: The C-class might as well be a Jetta now, with the CLA a Teutonic KIA, IMO.

    • 0 avatar
      No Nickname Required

      Odds are they’ve both been made out of plastic for quite a few years now.

    • 0 avatar

      I owned a ’76 Mercedes.

      The grille was plastic with chrome trim on front.

      Because who in hell actually makes a metal grille? They’re heavy and stupid.

      (I expect the badge is also plastic, sure. But the stand-up ornament on my ’76 was … chromed pot-metal, I’m sure. Sure seemed like the broken one I replaced after I bought it [pre-broken] wasn’t The Finest Milled Steel.

      It’s a farkin’ hood ornament or badge; of course it’s not solid metal.)

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t understand, are you saying that a metal grill is inherently superior to a plastic one?


  • avatar

    Just make sure you order the lighted grille badge kids so every knows you’re driving an MB!

  • avatar

    The usual “cheapening the brand for bling”. Sorry, in my book the three pointed star in the grille only belongs on the two-door sporting models. Just like the 190SL and 300SL intended.

    Copied this and emailed it to my sister (owns a 2013 C-class, I believe the last one before the CLA came out, she bought it because she expected the marque to start cheapening down with the CLA). Looking forward to her reaction.

    • 0 avatar

      Well, the CLA has allowed the C to go upmarket…

      • 0 avatar

        The A-Class (on which the CLA is based) has been in production since 1997, so it’s nothing new. The last time I saw sales numbers, I seem to recall that it represented about 7-8% of M-B’s global vehicle sales, which makes it a significant part of M-B’s portfolio.

        Having said that, the C-Class I tested in 2014 was significantly upscale from the one I’d driven 10 years earlier, and seemed to have “borrowed” a lot of pieces from the E-Class.

  • avatar

    Somehow, I still prefer to see the star on the hood. My old W123 had that, and looking out over the hood to see it felt a little special. I guess not so much anymore.

  • avatar

    I’m just upset to learn that a wreath and crest are not on the CTS.

  • avatar
    Big Wheel

    This is a bummer. A few months ago, I picked up a 2017 C300 4matic with the Luxury package specifically to get the old-school grill. I ordered the car earlier in the year to get what I wanted. The suspension is actually the same as a regular non-Sport trim C300. Nice, but like most people I’m not a fan of the run flat tires with their added unsprung weight & stiff sidewalls. The ride could be even softer in my opinion, as the roads in Michigan are horrible & I need all the compliance I can get. But closing in on 50, I’m not the target demographic for this car as the article states.

    The Luxury trims are indeed rare. Hard to find on a dealer lot.

    They also got rid of the Airmatic air spring suspension except on the C350e hybrid. I was going to order this next time around. If you think Luxury trims are rare to find at a dealer, try finding a C300 with Airmatic. None of the four dealers in my area had one for a test drive.

    But this trend has been going on for awhile. On the previous generation (W204) C class, I ordered two of them in Luxury trim to get the softer suspension (was different back then) but with the Sport grille as a roughly $200 stand alone option. So I got the Sport look but with the softer Luxury ride. For my 2017, I went Luxury the whole way & like the stand up star from the driver seat.

  • avatar

    C class is a lesser Mercedes so it’s ok to not have a star on the hood. It looked great while it lasted…

  • avatar
    Prove Your Humanity 2+9=?

    At least Mercedes has found a reasonable grille design that works across model platforms. No gaping fish mouths, silly grins, spindle hexagons or buzzard beaks here.

  • avatar

    Cheap black filler where fog lights used to go is the new hood ornament.

  • avatar

    I prefer the old school three pointed star on the hood.

    Mercedes had a following in that they were subtle and didn’t go for loud styling choices.

  • avatar

    With all the sensors and cameras hidden behind the emblem, there is not much you can do about it.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Mercedes-Benz sport / race heritage—including the timeless 300SL Gullwing and the iconic movie-star SL of the 80s—has always had the big bar-flanked emblem, so at least it’s not a case of modern garishness. It’s merely the first time the C-Class will be unavailable with the upright grille / hood ornament combo.

    The sport grille does do a better job of concealing the adaptive cruise radar than does the upright grille, though.

  • avatar

    The real problem was the silver shutter grille that came with the “luxury” ornament (second picture down) unless you got the Distronic Plus package (rare and $$$$$). Tacky!

  • avatar

    I wasn’t aware that the current C-Class was offered with the classic grille. The C-Class pictured actually looks pretty nice.

    One of the most pleasing aspect of owning two W210s is the prominent star at the end of the hood. It’s something special and relaxingly soothing. On the successor model the star was only half visible from the driver’s position; I didn’t like that.

  • avatar

    Every time I see a current gen C class I think it is a Honda.

  • avatar

    I always prefer a hood ornament, unless the car is quite sporty. The 560 SEC looked fine with a giant emblem, because that was a fast touring coupe. These pedestrian C-Class models are not sporty, so I think they should feature a hood ornament if the buyer has not chosen the AMG or other aggressive trim.

    I also want SUVs with hood ornaments again.

  • avatar

    The W210 is a black mark for Merc. That model did more than any model to diminish MB’s reputation. Previous models like the W124 are considered legendary in quality and build, especially compared w/ the W210.

  • avatar

    test on old W124, Merc admits later MB were cheapened


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