By on May 30, 2018

Image: Jack Baruth

It’s a truism, but it’s true nonetheless: Every brand has a core product, and this is doubly true for automakers. The core product for BMW is the 3/4/whatever-Series of once-compact cars. If you buy a 3 Series BMW, it requires no explanation. Audi’s core product is currently in the process of Schrodinger-vibrating between A3 and A4; those are the cars that make the most sense in Ingolstadt’s lineup.

The core product at Mercedes-Benz, at least for those of us who don’t own G-wagens, is the S-Class sedan (in America) and the E-Class sedan (in Europe). They are the descendants of the almighty Seventies-era 240D and 450SEL that built the Benz brand around the globe. The values associated with that brand don’t translate very well to smaller cars. The 190E did a pretty good job in my opinion, but both it and its successors have long been the victims of color-magazine after-the-fact snark the minute the next model showed up.

The 2017 C300 that I rented in Las Vegas for a quick trip to Ventura, CA and back is, theoretically, the modern equivalent of the 190E 2.3, right down to the miserly specification and the characterless inline-four moaning under the hood. After several hundred miles behind its Benz-generic wheel, however, I’m thinking that Mercedes-Benz has finally succeeded in connecting its smallest Systeme Panhard sedan to a greater and more resonant tradition.

Image: Jack Baruth

It starts with the styling. I liked the W201 190E, which was a clean and rational design. The models that came afterwards went from bad (W202) to horrifying (W203) to perfectly pleasant (W204), but they always lacked that last bit of proportion. As with the 1984 Cadillac Sedan deVille, you never got the sense that the C-Class was meant to be whatever size it actually was.

This one’s different. It looks like the S-Class, and the proportions are spot-on. Put it next to its bigger brothers, and it looks perfectly at home. Has M-B ever had a three-sedan lineup this visually cohesive? No they have not. There’s nothing stunted or runtlike about this latest C-Class. In that respect, it is the polar opposite of the original SLK convertible, which was the ultimate example of styling-infantilization-as-punishment-for-subpar-economic-achievement.

[Get new and used Mercedes-Benz C300 pricing here!]

That sense of proportion carries over into the cockpit, which is sized for grown-ups in a way that the W201 managed just fine but its successors occasionally seemed to forget. The M-B Tex seats adjust in all the critical ways and offer all-day support. If you can’t get comfortable behind the wheel of the C300, you are probably on the outer edges of human variability.

Image: Jack Baruth

Controls for the infotainment system are the same as they are everywhere from the S63 to the AMG GTR, which is to say: outstanding for satellite radio, pretty good for Bluetooth sources, fair-to-middling everywhere else. The menu system can be surprisingly deep and certain functions are blocked unless the vehicle is stopped in Park. Sound quality is about on par with the non-branded systems in other entry-luxury sedans, but the noise-canceling functions and microphone quality of the hands-free phone system is probably best in class. In a basic-triple-black car like my rental tester, it’s easy to just look at the thing as a no-frills mobile office in which everything works but there’s nothing to impart a sense that you are one of the elect just because your name is on the lease contract. Audi does the tactile-desirability thing quite a bit better, while BMW is more forthcoming with manual transmissions and exhibitions of unapologetic sport style. The Benz is all business.

Shame, then, that it’s not quite up to par in the basic business of Benzes, which happens to be freeway composure. Blame it on the alignment, blame it on the enthusiastically-inflated tires, blame it on the boogie — but this particular C-Class required a firm and frequent hand on the wheel as I sped across the desert and back. My old 190E Cosworth was infinitely superior in that regard: at speed, the wheel acquired a certain dignified deadness and only the not-so-gentle sympathetic rocking of the whole body in time with the massive eccentric single wiper did anything to spoil the impression that one had lowered a magnetic pin into a conveniently machined groove on the tarmac.

Image: Jack Baruth

Even with a little bit of wandering-nose syndrome, however, this C300 is still a very comfortable and low-stress way to cover big mileage in a hurry. Off the freeway, it’s surprisingly eager to corner, feeling lighter on its feet than the equivalent BMW and offering slightly more authenticity of steering feel than the Audis. The 241 horsepower blown 2.0-liter clatters and clanks but the transmission is both intelligent and decisive in its shifts. It gets out of its own way just fine and it can hustle down any road you like. If you want the luxury of too much power, Mercedes is happy to sell you either the C43, which is pretty good, or the C63, which is better than pretty good. The C300 is simply adequate for purpose.

What else is there to say? The fuel economy is outstanding: 34 mpg at 80-90 mph is nothing at which to sneeze. NVH is good by the standards of the class, with wind noise being particularly low. The rear seat is livable for long trips and pleasant for short ones. The rampant cost-cutting that plagued the DaimlerChrysler-era cars is gone; this is not a luxury car in the ES350 idiom, but rather a prestige car. And while you don’t get very many toys, there’s nothing about the exterior or interior to make you feel ashamed for buying the base model. I’m impressed by the company’s decision to fit 17-inch wheels as standard; it pays off in comfort and noise. If you need to show off a bit more than that, the eighteens are a $500 upgrade, with nineteens a part of the various AMG-style visual upgrade packages.

Lay off the options and this car is yours for $41k or a bit less. For that kind of money, you could get a V6 Toyota with your choice of badges and a considerably longer list of standard equipment. You could also have an Accord 2.0T Touring and a new Rolex Submariner. Those comparisons are fun to make and they are probably not entirely unrepresentative of the discussions that some couples have before their next automotive purchase, but I think they miss the point.

A better way to look at it: For the price of a fair-to-middling SUV you can have a sedan that clearly respects the old Mercedes-Benz values. It has a clattering engine and it’s a little light on toys, but it will probably last a long time and it rewards the driver with a level of comfort and serenity that isn’t easy to find elsewhere at this money. That, together with the fact that it happens to be almost exactly the same size as the W123 240D, makes me think that the C-Class has finally found its true calling as a spiritual replacement for that highly-regarded old Benz. No, it’s not gonna run a million miles on vegetable oil, but on the plus side it has power windows and the ability to climb a grade in less-than-geological time.

A 1983 240D was 25 grand before options. That’s equal to 64k today, which is the cost of a nicely-equipped E-Class. Don’t let that confuse the issue for you. Today’s E-Class is a pretty big car with a lot of stuff in and on it. If you liked the packaging of the old cars and their M-B-Tex-ish character, you’ll like the C300. I can’t promise you that the neighbors will be jealous, and I can’t promise you that you will never hear that snippy old phrase “Cheap-Class” as you drive down Main Street. All I can promise you is this: The C300 is a lot closer to a core product than it used to be.

Get one now, because they’re getting rid of the cruise control stalk next year. It matters more than you think.

[Images: Jack Baruth/TTAC

 

 

 

 

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93 Comments on “Rental Review: 2017 Mercedes-Benz C300...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    How many miles were on your particular rental example, Jack?

    It is good for a reference point given your impressions.

  • avatar
    orangedude71

    recently bought a used C350E (the plug in version with all the bells and whistles, Burmeister stereo, adaptive cruise and the all important access to the car pool lane. 2 years old, 10k miles on the clock, and roughly the same price as a Prius.. Zero regrets and with the adaptive cruise and lane centering, it just gobbles up the miles stress free

  • avatar
    St.George

    There is always an appeal to the Benz sedans (C, E & S class). However, I think that they have lost that ‘hewn from steel’ long lasting appeal that they used to have. Also, the ones that I have sat in (at the Houston auto show) have had slightly cheap feeling interiors (S class excepted), can’t put my finger on exactly why, it was more of a feeling.

    Audi seem to have the interiors sorted, especially the A6 & siblings. To summarize, nice car, would think about leasing one if the deal was right.

    • 0 avatar
      TwoBelugas

      Lexus is the modern day Mercedes.

    • 0 avatar
      cbrworm

      I think that Mercedes has moved away from some of the soft touch coatings that Audi and BMW love. The good news is that it won’t peel and scrape off, the bad news is that the buttons/panels feel more plasticky without it.

      My hope is that while they feel cheaper, they may last longer. Or maybe not, who knows.

  • avatar
    tonycd

    Jack, talking about longevity. Up and down the line, what’s your sense about how the German Three compare these days in being built to last?

    I talked to my mechanic recently. He had an S6 in the bay. When I praised it, he calmly but earnestly criticized the car in detail for its underhood plastic parts, expressing consternation that such an upscale car should have been built of more durable stuff that didn’t inevitably crack from heat expansion/contraction cycles over the life of the car. Made me curious. My sense is that BMWs are the most disposable of the three nowadays, but I’m more interested in your more educated guess.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I’ve been toying with the idea of buying something like this CPO, so I’ve sampled a few three-year-old examples. I’d agree with you on the BMW – it feels the most “plasticky,” but the thing moves. And it looks sensational in red.

      A C-class feels fine with a few years under its’ belt, but I’d actually go with an A3. The thing’s built.

    • 0 avatar
      S197GT

      just sold our 2006 bmw 330i with 190k miles to a friend of mine; we got it with 30k miles. car was in excellent shape for the mileage, people who didn’t know were very surprised with how many miles were on it.

      it has been fairly reliable. a lot of highway miles. only stranded us once when the ac compressor pulley broke around 70k miles.

      just one ownership story, but we would definitely buy a newer bmw… if they didn’t drive like buicks…

  • avatar
    jh26036

    I’m probably in the minority. I think this car is really ugly.

  • avatar
    volvo

    I just built and priced one on the MBZ USA site.

    $48K (before California Tax and License which would be about $5K more) with MB Tex and basic electronic safety features that are now standard on cars like Subaru ($30K). Any color but monochrome black or white will be called “metallic” and add another $800 to the price.

    Similarly optioned E300 was $58K and if you want the perceived MBZ status seems like a better deal.

    You gotta really like the star on the grill to go down this path. With the Subaru you pay only 60% of the C300 price and get multiple stars on the grill.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    There’s a certain “coolness” to this car.

    I love the unadorned look, not a piece of extraneous trim on it anywhere.

    It may look stripped or generic to some, but to me, it’s sexy.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      I consider the black inserts in the front bumper (where the foglights should be) to be extraneous trim.

    • 0 avatar
      volvo

      I agree. Probably the best looking sedan out there at this time. But I still can’t get past the price when reasonably optioned

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        I feel ya. There’s always been that “Mercedes tax” applied to their cars.

        I’m so damned cheap though, that I’d probably go for a fully loaded Impy or Pacifica hybrid for the same (or less) money.

    • 0 avatar
      IBx1

      Needs the upgraded headlights and taillights to not scream base model, but other than that the only options I would want are anything but black-on-black. Saddle/cream interior with dark ash or open pore brown wood and blue outside.

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    “I liked the W201 190E, which was a clean and rational design. The models that came afterwards went from bad (W202) to horrifying (W203) to perfectly pleasant (W204), but they always lacked that last bit of proportion.”

    What the hell is wrong with the W203’s *styling*, Baruth?

    You goddamn monster.

    (That said, the C class is the most compelling non-SUV MB makes, for normal people.

    I’d … probably prefer a GLC, but I have cargo/capability needs that sedans are bad at.)

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      (And I say this as someone who drove a W115 300D for over a decade, and knows the Old School Mercedes Solidity and Clean Style from copious personal experience.

      I’d never pay new money for an MB sedan, though.)

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I’ve been flirting with the idea of replacing my Jetta with a CPO example of something like this, a 3-series BMW, or an A3. Hey, what could possibly go wrong? Feel free to tell me.

    (And it’ll probably be nothing more than a flirtation – I do believe my automotive future includes the three letters G, T, and I.)

    I’ve sampled a couple of these, and Jack’s pretty much spot on. This car has a serious talent for easygoing cruising. The interior looks far more luxurious than anything in this class, but I don’t think the materials age particularly well – the switches feel plasticky and cheap, and I’ve seen bubbling fake-aluminium trim on any number of them. There’s no shortage of fake lux here.

    A BMW 328 feels far more eager (and, surprisingly enough, the 320 is a long way from bad), but the steering is a more than a bit vague, and it feels somewhat disorganized in corners. Unfortunately, you also get lots of rattling interior plastic. Still, every time I see one of these in red, I’m somewhat beguiled.

    I’d actually argue the enthusiast’s choice in this class is the A3 – no frills, no BS, holds up nicely, and it is terrific to drive. And it’s stealthy as hell.

    • 0 avatar
      Der_Kommissar

      Agreed- avoid the AWD, keep the options light, and find a lot queen that they want to get rid of and the 320 is a fine option. But if your life fits in an A3- that’s the sweet spot. Fun, high quality car if you don’t need a back seat or trunk but somehow still think you need four doors.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        What’s the problem with the AWD model? Just curious – around here (Denver), your chances of finding a 3-series (or any other RWD sport sedan) without AWD is about the same as scoring a winning lottery ticket. And that’s assuming I’d actually wouldn’t want AWD to begin with, and I actually would.

        • 0 avatar
          Nick_515

          FreedMike, when I got my 2011 328xi, i was in the same position and got the x-drive version. I did test drive the rwd, and can confirm it felt special in the way it pivoted through the turns in a way that mine simply doesn’t. No experience with the generation you are considering.

    • 0 avatar
      HuskyHawk

      A-3 competes more with the BMW 1 series in my opinion. This and the 328 would map to the A4. Last A4 I test drove had an atrocious ride.

  • avatar
    ajla

    If only you could still get it with the 3.5L M276 V6.

  • avatar
    brawnychicken333

    I loved the upright look of the 202 series. Did then, and owned one, still do now. Not at all a fan of the 203 or 204 styles.

  • avatar
    gtem

    Speaking of rental reviews, I just had a almost new (62 miles when I got it) Optima FE for 3 days to drive to NYC from Ithaca for a wedding and back. I was entirely ambivalent about the car when I picked it up aside from being relieved it being almost new with quiet tires with full tread and no weird stains or wheel balance issues. By the time I was bouncing around LaGuardia’s spaghetti-mess of airport roads, the Optima was clocking in at 43mpg(!!!) after a 70-73 mph cruise most of the way there with a bit of stop and go near the GWB. The “FE” has very rationally sized 205/65R16 tires on alloy wheels that absolutely gobbled up NYC/Staten Island roads. DeadWeight on here b*tches to no end about the Koreans not knowing how to tune suspensions, I’d like to thoroughly rebuke that. This Optima was excellent both in terms of road-holding and having a very well composed and comfortable ride. Furthermore the seats were 4+ hour comfy, and headlights were superb on the night-time travel through deer-infested Route 79 driving into Ithaca in the evening.

    Not sure what the street price is of a new or lightly used Optima FE is, but these days I’ve become fairly disenchanted with the Big T, and increasingly see Koreans as a high-value alternative.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      There’s also the hybrid version of the Optima which was praised on this site for having large sidewalls and good down low torque.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        A hybrid with just one motor and a conventional automatic transmission is bull$h!t.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        With how good the “FE” model did on MPG and how perfectly adequate the power and acceleration was (aggressive torque converter lock up is actually pretty pleasing when combined with competent and smooth shifting from the automatic), I see no real reason to pay the premium for the hybrid gear, especially when it’s not the HSD style setup which is IMO the most effective and reliable setup. I’m by no means saying the Optima is a standout in the midsize class, but it didn’t have any notable flaws or questionable longer-term hardware (read: Altima and its CVT), and my guess is you can scoop one of these Optimas up at a fire sale price and have it serve faithfully for 10+ years in comfy A-B commuter duty and handling long distance trips as well. Someone like my wife would prefer it for its comfier ride over her current Camry SE with its lower profile 17″ tires and stiffer suspension tuning. Her car is getting beat to death on Indy’s roads and with 77k miles I suspect the original shocks are not quite what they were when new, and has picked up a few dash rattles as well.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “DeadWeight on here b*tches to no end about the Koreans not knowing how to tune suspensions…”

      Drive an Elantra Sport and tell me Koreans don’t know how to do suspensions.

      DW b*tches to no end about a lot of stuff, and he’s not on base with this at all.

      My mom has owned a Kia for four years now – no issues. Go forth with her blessing.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Drive an Elantra Sport back to back with a GTI and you will see that the Koreans have no idea what they are doing in general.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          In fact, I have driven both, krhodes…the Elantra is about 20 hp, a sharper steering rack, and a nicer interior away from being a *very* legit GTI alternative.

          As is, it’s a neither-nor – it’s certainly a lot quicker than the average compact, but nowhere near as capable as a GTI (or WRX). And, yeah, the interior quality sucks.

          But at an out-the-door price of +/- 21 grand, with leather, nav and a sunroof, the Elantra Sport would probably be a very nice ride, as long as you’re not after all-out performance capability.

          (I’d still rather pay a touch extra for the GTI S, though.)

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      The rationally sized wheels you mention has been one of my favorite items about my kid’s 2016 Malibu. I think the car rides wonderfully, and I have to believe that it’s a result of the Continental tires in the 16″ diameter. There’s enough sidewall to cushion bumps, but not enough to make it wallowy.

      It’s the last gasp of the original Epsilon chassis which was pretty OK for it’s time. But this ‘Bu feels like it’s about 10 times more smooth and solid than any other Epsilon body that I’ve spent time in.

      Too bad they don’t make them like that anymore.

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        I actually like that generation of Malibu. Had one for an Uber the other night, and it’s not bad even in the back. I like it much better than the current Malibu.

        • 0 avatar
          geozinger

          I’ve not spent much time in the latest gen Malibu. I’ve got a fair amount of seat time in the ’16 Uglibu. It’s far roomier and better built than most imagine.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      To go to back to the Korean theme, I’d like to see how this car compares to the Genesis G70 when it’s available. Of all the compact/premium/2.0T luxury sedans, it’s probably the most interesting to me because of the available manual transmission and reasonable entry price.

    • 0 avatar
      Nick_515

      gtem, i have done that drive a lot, but am away from the region for a few months, thanks for the memories. i know 79 well, but the deer combined with slow drivers combined with the snow and ice up top have made me stay on 17 longer to avoid it, before heading north. A beautiful drive during dusk all the same. The whole drive is very lightly policed btw… you can go a lot faster than that :)

      Glad to hear about the Optima. I rented one for a two-hour drive DC airport to Delaware… it was nice. I wouldn’t call it relaxing, but it was comfortable, and the fuel economy was shocking compared to my BMW (which only gets 400-mile highway runs on 16 gallons on non-winter 91 octane).

  • avatar
    Big Wheel

    Full disclosure: I work for a Daimler subsidiary & drive a 2017 C300 with the now discontinued Luxury trim package (sad!). It’s my second W205 car, having a 2015 before this. Had several W204’s before that.

    Love the car, drives well, I always look forward to driving it. Big improvement over the W204.

    I wish Jack had some photos of the interior, because it’s fantastic, & most reviews I’ve seen of the car mention it. Car & Driver named it the best interior for under $50k or $60k.

    Given that it’s a rental unit, I doubt it had the optional Burmester stereo, which is much better than the base unit & also has the beautiful machined metal speaker covers.

    MB Tex interior is also great – many skip the cost of the optional leather because the MBT is so good. Seats are comfy.

    I had those 17″ base rims on my 2015 – gives a nice ride on the base Comfort suspension, even if they are run flats. My 2017 does have optional 18″ rims, again run flats, & the ride is slightly worse as expected.

    I have no issues with steering on the highway, even on Michigan’s horrible roads. Given the rental nature of this unit, it’s possible the tire pressure is incorrect. I take my tire pressure gauge with me whenever I rent a car & check it before leaving the lot (if the tires are cool). I often find the tires over-inflated & have to bleed them down.

    I too will miss the cruise stalk on the left side of the column. I use CC whenever I can. Guess time will tell about moving it to a thumb switch on the wheel.

    I average 26.7 mpg (calculated) in mixed driving, which just about matches the 27 mpg combined figure. Straight highway runs are in the low 30’s as Jack indicated.

    And it was built in Alabama, including the engine, with 70+% US parts content. Assembly quality is good. I believe there a few that are still imported from either Germany or South Africa.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      I don’t understand the love for the stalk. I’ve had two Mazdas and a Ford with CC controls on the wheel, and it’s way more intuitive and functional than any stalk-based system I’ve ever used.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        I bemoan the loss of classic Toyota stalk on the ’18+ Camries, as I guess they couldn’t figure out how to integrate it with the added adjustments needed for adaptive cruise. Same basic stalk design/function on my ’96 4Runner, parents’ RX350, wife’s Camry SE. It just plain works and I like the feel of using it.

      • 0 avatar
        IBx1

        The Mercedes stalk is an entirely different thing. Click it up or down for +/-1mph, and you can click it to a second detent either direction to get you to the nearest multiple of 5mph and then up or down by 5 at a time.

        • 0 avatar
          SunnyvaleCA

          I love the Mercedes stalk too. Another benefit is that the CC is always turned on and there is no light on the dash. With other cars you have to first turn the CC on (which lights up an idiot light) and then you can try to figure out how to operate the control — more steps and non-intuitive.

        • 0 avatar
          Nick_515

          Audi and BMW are +/- 1 mph when you push/pull but +/- 5 mph for an actual click – though Audi is up and down, while the BMW confusingly back and forth, I think

          The stalk remains my best deceleration strategy upon encountering the law. I’d miss it.

    • 0 avatar
      conundrum

      @ Big Wheel

      Your C300 engine M274 is built by Infiniti (Nissan-Renault) in Decherd TN. Just one of MB’s commercial hook-ups.

      Apparently they don’t tell subsidiary employees that. Since Mercedes now has a brand new M264 engine coming out to replace your M274, it’ll be interesting to see if Infiniti gets the contract to make it for the US C Class, or whether MB even bothers to put the new 4 in US cars at all. Like US GTIs only get the DI injection while Europe has had dual port/DI from the Mk 7’s inception. Anything to save a buck if the manufacturer thinks nobody’s watching.

      The new M264 engine is decribed at media.daimler.com

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Man I am flat out jealous of that fuel economy.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      There seems to be a wide variation in what these 2.0T’s are capable of. Cars that I’ve read about recently, the Stinger and Regal TourX, were only rated for 29 mpg highway with the same size engine.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    These are significantly better than the CLA garbage, but they’re still lease specials for the proverbial $299/month for 24 or maybe 36 months “must have a tristar badge” crowd.

    You don’t want to own these vehicles out of warranty (even if you’re incredibly gifted mechanically with an awesome set of tools And even a lift) because the cost of replacement parts, alone, on things that will inevitably fail like planned clockwork obsolescence, will be long and grating and expensive (and double or triple those costs of just the parts if you have to pay for labor on anything German by a competent mechanic even if unaffiliated with Der Mercedes-Benz stealership).

    There’s an excellent Canadian mechanic (Scotty something) who has a whole series of hilarious videos as to why owning the “prestige” German brands or things like the new Geely-produced Volvos out of warranty is an exercise in masochism, and he gets into the fine, mechanical details as to the whys.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Dunno DW, my ’11 3-series has been out of warranty for some years now and has cost me exactly nothing in repairs. And darned little in maintenance, even going by the old school maintenance schedule.

      A little nicer costs a lot more whether you are talking about cars, watches, TVs, stereos, whatever. A Camry is great value, but it isn’t much of an experience. I’m willing to pay disproportionately more to get what I want. Life’s too short, and you can’t take it with you.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        Some people enjoy nicer things and accept the sacrifices that come with them. Others sit on a high horse and disparage everything.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        I have a ’13 E350 that came with the special extra long CPO MB warranty (Blue something). I bought it from a close friend’s (family’s) dealership in Grand Blanc as it was a recent trade-in from the proverbial little old lady/man who drove it 5,000 miles a year and it was in like-new condition, and my buddy sold it to me at their cost of acquisition (which was very low) and threw the extra long CPO warranty in for free.

        I have no illusions about the expense of maintaining and fixing German vehicles when the B2B warranty isn’t there. I am fortunate enough to significantly lessen the sting of any such repairs and parts costs since I know people who sell and service German metal, but if not, there’s no way I’d hang my a$$ out in the wind holding on to anything MB, BMW, Audi, of the commuter car variety, unless it was a future classic (in which case it would hardly be driven, and certainly not daily driven).

        In your case, you seem mechanically inclined with a proper set of tools, but even the best price on OEM parts is going to be easily 2x to 3x for many of the same components (not all, such as brake pads, rotors, etc) as on Japanese, Domestic or Korean vehicles.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          My response above was to krhodes1.

          “sporty”accord wouldn’t be able to truly relate to anything that I or krhodes1 wrote or experience, as he’s too ignorant of such things, alternating between Accords and Civics his whole life.

          • 0 avatar
            Nick_515

            DW, I respect your opinion, but would also be interested in the facts of your current experience. How many miles have you put on this very gently used Benz, what is it’s current mileage, and what problems has it had?

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Nick, I’ve put 23,000 miles on it, so it has 41,000 miles now.

            Motor and drivetrain have been solid, but I’ve had it back (they pick it up and give me new loaners) for:

            1) Rough shifting transmission (more pronounced in very cold temps)

            2) Power steering reservoir fluid leak.

            Both issues were resolved at a cost of $0 and vehicle was returned washed/waxed and with full tank of gas.

            I’ve had no issues with electronic or electrical accessories, but those things (like power door lock and window actuators and regulators) tend to pop up with higher miles and age on the Germans, along with some suspension issues associated with complex design, and also small things like bushings, motor mounts, and motor associated assemblages constructed of plastic where they used to use metal.

            The car is tight, has great balance of ride quality and handling, air blows super cold, the paint is flawless (MB and Audi do great paint), and the interior is holding up extremely well.

            It’s extremely stable at high speeds and is a supremely comfortable freeway cruiser.

            It’s an unforgivable sin that MB has now offered a turbo 4 as the base motor in the E, and a pox on the Haus of Daimler.

      • 0 avatar
        HuskyHawk

        I had a CPO 328 that had exactly zero problems over four years. None. But it didn’t have a turbo or i-drive. Seems like electronics sink these things more than anything else.

        • 0 avatar
          PasadenaYellow

          Recently, I thought about picking up an E90 328i (from a not-too long ago era when BMW had, at least, the fun side of the ledger wrapped up). E90s have depreciated to a not very expensive price point, and the E90 328s (vastly unlike 335s of the same era) have the rep as being one of the most reliable modern BMWs. Among other examples, I test drove a well-maintained 2010 sport package with only 80K. It was a great drive, as all E90s are — and initially rather tempting especially given the price point. However, 4/5 of the way through the test drive, I heard some noises while at a stoplight, and the idle got rougher. A few minutes later as I was waiting in the middle turn lane of a busy intersection to make a left into the dealership, the car just died. It did start back up, but idled even more roughly. Something was very, very wrong. I know that the car was out of commission for more than a week as the issue was being diagnosed and parts ordered.

          Now, I know, that things happen, this could have been a lemon, an aberration, it’s anecdotal, etc. . . . but what really concerned me was that my subsequent online investigation revealed at least 3 or 4 different potential causes for these symptoms. Indeed, numerous 328 owners (most of whom had cars under the 100K threshold) had posted in forums regarding nearly identical issues and there was no one single cause — and this isn’t even one of the general and well known “maintenance” issues that afflict E90s.

          More than that, I wasn’t really all that surprised. If this had been, say, a 2010 G37 – to say nothing of a 2010 IS350 – with 80K miles, I would have been flabbergasted.

          So I’m with DW on the question of long term German car ownership. This is far from my first acquaintance or knowledge of such matters, but it just drove home what I already knew. I merely throw this into the ring with the positive anecdotal (mainly E90) experiences noted above.

          Really, I would trust a well maintained E30 over any modern German car in terms of unexpected $$$ surprises; just so much less to go wrong and it’s much more readily identifiable when it does. Many are fortunate — I don’t doubt that there are many modern German cars driving around, for years out of warranty, with no problems and no surprise expenses to speak off. I’m just too busy and too risk averse to take the chance I end up being one of the less fortunate.

          All that said, I have a lot more patience with an 8 year old $13K BMW that dies in the middle of the road than I do with a brand new $45K Giulia that does the same thing.

  • avatar
    olivebranch2006

    “If you can’t get comfortable behind the wheel of the C300, you are probably on the outer edges of human variability.”
    I drove my Father’s Mercedes GLS this weekend. The seat cushions feel flat on my bottom, not enough support or pillow top. Came home and both my Ford truck and Lincoln Navigator are exponentially more comfortable. Have to disagree with you on this point. The GLS did drive nice and smooth but my Navigator 3.5L ecoboost has more power off the line.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “The rear seat is livable for long trips and pleasant for short ones.”

    This car’s interior is nearly the same (actually slightly smaller) than my 12 Nissan Leaf was. My rear seat passengers were pretty tight back there.

    But this car lacks legroom *and* headroom; it’s small.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    In the US market:

    Audi’s core product is the Q5, with the Q7 the next most strategically important.

    BMW’s core product is the X3, with the X5 and X7 the next most strategically important.

    Benz’s core products are the GLC and GLE, with the GLS of nearly equal strategic importance.

    The sedans are dying quickly and are far from “core,” although they’re still too big to just throw out.

    I expect the Germans’ three sizes (four in Audi’s case) to be whittled to two within two product cycles. The A6/A7 will eat the A8. The A4 will become a LWB A3. The 5- and 7-series will merge, although the badges may be maintained for one cycle by using two wheelbase lengths. The C- and E-classes will merge. “Four-door coupes” will disappear and the remaining sedans will get more swoopy as they increasingly become a choice for enthusiasts only.

    Meanwhile, the addition of body styles to the CUV realm will continue.

    • 0 avatar
      hachee

      You’re no doubt right about the sedan line-ups. And I see the upcoming Q8 (slightly alarming front end styling aside) as the real replacement for the A8.

      Maybe this is too anecdotal, but based on what I see in NYC and its suburbs, the big 7 seat SUVs are high end mom cars. It seems to me, based on the sheer number of them I see, that Range Rover has had the right formula all this time – big SUV, but not too big, great and expensive looks, luxury, and prestige. (Long term reliability is irrelevant; these cars are all leased or traded after 3 years.) To me, this is really the vehicle that has taken the place of the S-Class and the like. People want SUVs, but for a top of the line (self-driven) car, they don’t want something perceived as a mom-car, as nice as it may be. So while the Q7, GLS and X5 (and probably X7) do well, they’re not really what the S-Class class buyer wants as a daily driver. I honestly see Mercedes with another SUV at the high end of the line up, just not as specialized as the G-Class.

  • avatar
    vanpressburg

    C300 (specially coupe) is one of the best car you can buy today (for the money)
    C300 is little quieter than C43 and much more quiet than C63.

  • avatar
    Pete Zaitcev

    Here’s the previous review by Jack, 2013 C250:
    https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/review-2013-mercedes-benz-c250/

    That was before the CLA.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    Driven the C300, 4 Series and Audi A4 and agree the C300 is the best and BMW worst. Drove those latter two 4 cylinders the same day over the same course – dealers next to each other in Calgary. On one giant pothole on an offramp, the rear suspension of the C300 bottomed violently and loudly, which alarmed all three of us aboard compared to the previous serenity. The BMW didn’t bottom out, but was obviously inferior in other ways. Still the C300 was far from vault-like in extremis.

    My recent favorite for easy cruisin’ comes out of left field – the updated chassis structure 2018 Mazda6 turbo. Drove an Accord Sport 2.0t right after it (nothing but constant tire roar) same course. The Mazda was quieter, smoother and locked on straight ahead steering. Startling I know, and only Cdn $33.5K for that trim, a mere $20K less than the C300. All I can say is, try it and see what I mean. It is not the old tin can version. Gas mileage is probably worse, but the engine doesn’t clatter, either. Surprised the hell out of me, was 30 km/h over the limit and did not guess it from the vibration-free experience.

  • avatar

    Well,since BMW no longer makes BMWs I’m considering this as a C400.
    Off Lease, with remainder of full warranty plus CPO warranty.
    V6 turboed, LED lights, Burmeister Audio.
    Bluetooth is key in my world. Good to know it’s good.
    Half the price of the C43…you can still chip it.
    Won’t do 30 mpg, but that’s OK, its NOT A FOUR FOR 50K…..

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Get a similar condition/year E Series, but with the 6 cylinder.

      Much more substantive and solid and roomy, for not that much more money, and the 4 banger is a joke in the E, and to be honest, even the C, at anything near this MSRP (especially given the roughness of the MB blown 4).

  • avatar
    deanst

    These things actually outsell the Altima, Fusion and Malibu in Canada. Probably outsell the Camry and Accord in Toronto.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    I rented pretty much this same car last summer and put 900 miles on it. It was fine. The exterior isnt lustworthy to my eyes but its well done. I dislike the interior, just think the center console looks cheap. It also didn’t drive solid like a back in the day benz.

    Last month I put about 200 miles on a friend’s 2011 E350 with 67,000 miles already on the clock. That car felt infinitely more solid.

  • avatar
    ccc555

    I have a 2016 E350 and the couple of times I brought it in for service, a C300 is the loaner. It drives and feels cheap compared to the E class. With options a C comes in at around 50k which is not far from the E. If you’re buying you can get a CPO E class for less thaN a well optioned C and if leasing the difference in monthly payment is likely not large enough to not consider the E over C. Maybe gas mileage is better but other than that the C is too expensive and close to the E price IMO.


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