2008 Mercedes-Benz 300-Class Long-Term Road Test

2008 Mercedes-Benz C300: Most Three-Pointed Stars In Segment

November 18, 2008

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According to our TMV pricing tool, our long-term 2008 Mercedes-Benz C300 Sport would cost $41,370 as an '09 model. That's pretty much dead-even with the comparably-equipped '09 Infiniti G37S we tested recently.

You'd never guess as much if you drove these cars back to back.

Why? The Benz's steering is relatively light and uncommunicative, and the steering wheel itself is too big and generically contoured; the Sport-Packaged G37, conversely, has wonderfully weighty and talkative steering, along with one of the best steering wheels in the business. Mercedes' seven-speed automatic is slow-witted in this application, requiring far too much time to execute full-throttle downshifts; the G's new seven-speed unit, on the other hand, downshifts briskly and matches revs to boot, even in Drive. Somewhat surprisingly, the Benz's interior isn't any nicer than the G's -- materials quality is comparable, and I actually prefer Infiniti's "Washi" aluminum trim to the C300's somber blacked-out upper dash. As for handling, forget it. The G is a tail-out hooligan with manners, while the C feels like a numb and less-capable 3 Series.

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Oh, and one more thing. The Infiniti has a hundred more horsepower than the poor Mercedes, and it feels like it, too. Is the Benz's V6 more refined? Absolutely. But it's not nearly as smooth as the 328i's inline-6, which is the only rival engine that can make a 100-hp deficit seem tolerable.    

Yep, this Benz sure doesn't feel like forty-one thousand bones -- not after driving a G37S, at any rate.

It does, however, boast a class-leading nine three-pointed-star logos (grille, hood, trunk lid, wheels, steering wheel, shift knob). That must count for something.

Josh Sadlier, Associate Editor, Edmunds.com @ 17,737 miles

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