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.

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By on February 16, 2016

autocross

The commenter known as Economist writes:

Dear Bark,

I, like you, am a committed family man with two small children. Both of them are in car seats. I currently drive a 2007 Acura TL, but I miss the small cars of my youth.

I dream of getting a Miata like I used to have years ago, but I don’t know if I will get enough utility from it to make it worth the expense. I was also considering an S2000 or an older Corvette.

(Read More…)

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