January 16, 2009
I had three pleasant days in our 2008 Mercedes-Benz C300 Sport and it brought me back to my car buying roots. The first car I bought was a 1960 Mercedes 190. The thing looked like a bowler hat. It had an overhead cam, 4-cylinder engine, but it still couldn't get out of its own way.
Cut to several decades later and I'm driving around Riverside County helping to introduce Edmunds' New Car Inventory feature to local dealers (here's an example of listings available for Nissan in the Los Angeles area).
I logged 180 miles and got 27.7 mpg (on premium gas). During my entire time in the car, I couldn't think of a single significant aspect of the car that I didn't like. The look, feel, responsiveness was all what wanted from a car.
How to sum all this up? I've always loved the feel of German cars. And that German car feel is alive and well in the C300.
Philip Reed, Edmunds.com Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 20892 miles
January 09, 2009
I know I haven't always had nice things to say about our long-term 2008 Mercedes-Benz C300, but I came to an interesting conclusion after spending a few days recently with Audi's new 2009 2.0T Quattro sedan:
I think I'd rather have the Benz.
My chief complaint is the rather ragged sound and feel of the amped-up 2.0T, which Mr. Kavanagh has already discussed in an excellent post on our long-term A4 Avant. The 2.0T's econobox-style four-cylinder drone, replete with steering-wheel vibrations at higher rpm, just seems out of place in an entry-level luxury sedan. I share Jay's bewilderment: "Audi doesn't think its customers care...about such trivialities?" I certainly care -- I'll take the C300's smooth and authoritative V6 growl every day of the week.
Am I alone here? Would anyone else take the Benz over the Audi?
Josh Sadlier, Associate Editor, Edmunds.com
January 05, 2009
Our C300 Sport came with these beautiful 18" AMG wheels, the merits and liabilities about them has already been discussed by many of you, but there's one facet to them that may have been overlooked. That big / ///AMG block cast into the wheel is directly opposite the valve stem. Wonder why?
December 29, 2008
When driving alone, I love the C300. It has sport sedan handling combined with an excellent engine - each time I drive it I'm reminded how, for the money, I wouldn't need a C350 or a me too 3-series (double "me too!" in black).
Sadly, there is one problem with the C300. The rear seats are sculpted too narrow making it VERY difficult to use my kid's booster seat. It's almost impossible to get the seat belt clipped in - usually my 6 year old can do it himself, not on the C-Class. Maybe this Graco booster is too wide? Not sure but it is a huge hassle. A new $40 booster seat isn't the end of the world but I'd want to know this before I bought the car.
Bottom line, take all your stuff to the dealership before buying any car - iPod, phone, baby seat, booster, stroller - whatever you use regularly, make sure it works and/or fits with the car you want.
Brian Moody, Senior Automotive Editor @ 20,056 miles.
December 26, 2008
No early morining video shoots or Office 2007 training sessions this week can only mean one thing, Well, two actually - sleeping in and breakfast burritos from Pepe's in Pico Rivera. I'm going to go out on a limb and say Pepe's has the best BB's this side of the Rockies. Zipping up the 605 fwy is effortless thanks to the C300 Sport. Power delivery is smooth and seamless. However, if it were my money, I'd skip the AMG wheels hoping for a slightly more compliant ride - emphasis on slight. If money were no object, would you rather have sporty handling or a softer ride?
Finally, the C300 isn't a huge car but the trunk is spacious enough - gift shopping as well as a full cart of Christmas dinner groceries showed the C Class to be both a fun and functional sport sedan.
Brian Moody, Senior Automotive Editor @ 20,000 miles
December 18, 2008
There's no good reason for this car to have 18-inch wheels. You can paint it up like a DTM racing car if you want, but it's still never going to be sports sedan.
Until you drive cross-country, you'll never understand just how good a Mercedes-Benz really is. It goes down the road with a purpose, but all the rough edges have been smoothed down from long experience with the whole vehicle engineering thing, so everything works with the sure, carefully damped action of the turn-signal stalk on a Mercedes S-class sedan.
And then Americans take our Mercs and put the biggest wheels we can find on them and spoil the whole thing.
Americans are dope fiends for big wheels. It all started with the impulse to get more cornering grip and crisper steering response from wider, short-sidewall tires, but over time things have devolved into enthusiasm for wheels, not tires. Wheels are all sparkly, and they seem to send us into the same trance you see in people standing in front of the accessories rack at Pep Boys.
Our 2008 Mercedes-Benz C300 suffers the curse of big wheels. We've got $1,010 of 18-inch AMG wheels carrying 225/40ZR18 tires in front and 255/35ZR18 tirs in the back. What we're supposed to get is quicker steering response and improved lateral stability, the kind of thing that's great on a curving freeway ramp. At the same time, we find ourselves skipping from crest to crest on the worn-out concrete slabs of the San Diego Freeway as if we were riding in a cheap fiberglass skiff. That's because the short tire sidewalls effectively increase the spring rates of the suspension, as there's less bump-absorbing compliance available from the tire.
The trade-off just doesn't work for me in this car. Mercedes might still be trying to persuade us that the C-class sedan is secretly a hot rod from the DTM racing series in Germany, but instead this car just seems like a taxi (although a real nice one) that's acting out. At least with the Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG, you get lots of horsepower in compensation.
There's always a trade-off in ordering big wheels and tires for any car, and the trade-off just doesn't work here. The big wheels and sporty tires enhance the C300's sporting personality too little and degrade its comfort quotient too much. There are times when big wheels are just a look, not a performance option, and this is one of them.
Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com @ 19,520 miles.
November 18, 2008
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.
August 13, 2008
There's a really cool web site that attempts to determine your gender by looking at web browsing habits.
I think you can do the same thing just using cars - for example, Mercedes Benz C300, BMW 1 series, Mini Cooper, Hyundai Veracruz and Toyota Yaris all seem to have a feminine slant. I've yet to see a guy driving any of these cars.
On the other hand, BMW M3, Audi A4, Nissan Altima and Chevy Tahoe have a certain boyish quality. The C Class is still fun and attractive - even though our long term car is not a C350 Sport, it never feels down on power. I'd get the C300 and save the money, then again I'm not a girl so I'd probably get another car altogether.
Brian Moody, Road Test Editor
August 04, 2008
Rolled out to the XGames this past weekend to check out BMX, skateboarding, and the SuperMotoX and Moto Freestyle events.
We took the C300 and, boy, was this pup out of place. You see, there's not a lot of luxury cars at the XGames; most of the guests showed up in Tall-Boy pickup trucks like the one in the pic.
May 29, 2008
I've said it before and I'll say it again: "Our C300 feels so utterly over-engineered and under-stressed that it will easily drive half a million miles before anything will need replacing." At least that's what it feels like. Few cars have this quality and it's really hard to put into words.
Part of it may have to do with the fact that the sturdy body in white is built to endure everything from decades of diesel-powered taxi service in the old country to thundering around racetracks in the form of a nuclear-powered 450-hp C63 AMG. That's a wide range of duty for a platform to accommodate, and not many manufacturers build their cars to this standard.
I had the C300 over the Memorial Day weekend and made a 430-mile lap from L.A. to the central coast and back. Though mildly congested and highly patrolled, I managed to make excellent time in both directions on Highway 101 and still earn decent fuel economy.
After I pulled into my driveway on Monday, the car's on-board computer reported "Since Start: 214 mi, 03hr:26min, 26.8 mpg, 63 mph." That's a bit of a surprise because the car is only rated at 18-mpg in the city and 25-mpg on the highway. So even at my sometimes-rapid pace, I managed to beat the EPA's highway number by almost 2 mpg.
Chris Walton, Chief Road Test Editor @ 9312 miles
May 06, 2008
Slipping into 2008 Mercedes-Benz C300 Sport gives me an immediate sense of well-being. The seats are broad, firm and easily tailored to my preferred position. Ride quality is similarly firm, but never harsh -- just a typical European compromise of comfort and control.
February 18, 2008
Three-day weekends are a good excuse to get out of town. And as a sort of early Prez Day exercise, I spent the better part of last Friday driving our 2008 Mercedes C300 Sport on some of my favorite central California driving roads.
From a true sporting aspect, the C300 is somewhat of a disappointment. Steering turn-in is immediate a little too quick in my opinion and there's substantial grip provided by our car's optional 18-inch AMG wheels with "ContiSportContact 3" 225/40ZR18 tires.
But the lack of paddle-style shifters for the transmission, so-so lateral support from the driver seat, the non-disabling stability control system and still somewhat-soft suspension tuning all combine to keep our C300 from being truly engaging.
Away from twisty ribbons of asphalt, I enjoy the C300 more. It's comfortable and respectably quick. And I have to admit, it looks great parked in my driveway. But given a choice of our long-term C300 or our Infiniti G35 for a driver-themed weekend getaway, the G would be my pick.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 6,440 miles
February 04, 2008
First off, let me say that I enjoyed the C300 and though I like ripping acceleration as much as any other car buff, I don't know why anyone would spend the extra $5,300 for the C350. This 3-liter, 228-hp V6 has plenty of gusto for driving in the real world, provided you put the transmission in Sport mode where it holds lower gears longer and provides quicker downshifts.
The performance is usable too. At one point I was on a road that went from two lanes to one, and had the right of way when some idiot in an older Camry decided to come up along side me (rather than blending in behind) and stay there as the road started its lane reduction. I wasn't sure what this guy was thinking (well, evidently, he wasn't) so a quick jab to the gas quickly jetted the C300 ahead of the dolt without breaking a sweat or making a lot of racket.
My only complaint thus far concerns the ignition operation. Like every other Benz I've driven with this funky key, it's like the car doesn't want to let go of the key after you turn it off and attempt to pull it out. It's not a defect as they've all done this and it takes the same little tug to pull the key out. I'm flattered that the Benz likes me and wants to stay out and run around some more, but sheesh, just let go, will ya?
John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 5,588 miles.
January 07, 2008
My first quality time with our long-term 2008 Mercedes-Benz C300 proved quite enjoyable overall. The 3.0-liter V6 has plenty of power and mid-range torque -- enough, in fact, to make me question the extra cost of the C350 version. The seven-speed automatic is quite responsive in "Sport" mode, though its refusal to upshift at low speeds, and associated "dragging" effect might have you initially checking the emergency brake setting. That was easy to get used to, as was the car's standard-issue M-B "vault-ness" that makes this car feel more substantial than many entry-luxury competitors.
December 21, 2007
Every one of our long-term test cars undergoes track testing just like all the short-term cars that pass through our garage doors. For LT cars, we test them at the beginning and end of their stay with us. For the Mercedes-Benz C300 Sport, we decided to test the car in Scotland...or at least that's what the weather was like at our testing facility (I could almost hear the bagpipes). It's the type of conditions the Scots refer to as "atmospheric" (versus the two other types, "miraculous" and "crap"). With a thick fog, constant mist and a chill in the air, we realized why none of the British car publications publish substantial track numbers -- they can't. With a wet track, the morning was literally a wash, and without one of those GMC Sierra track drier thingies, we had to wait for the sun.
When the track finally dried, the C300 managed very well. Continue reading for official numbers and video of the testing.
December 07, 2007
That C/S button at the bottom of the PRND indicator has nothing to do with the car's suspension. No doubt long-time Mercedes-Benz fans will know it only changes the behavior of the transmission. Why the confusion?
With the release of the 2008 C Class, Mercedes has been actively promoting the car's all-new suspension system with a term which sounds very much like marketing-speak to us: Agility Control. The problem is that some people are assuming that means the car has active dampers or adaptive suspension. Not so. The truth is that in as much as every modern shock absorber uses multi-stage, hydraulic valves that are sensitive to the velocity of the piston within that shock absorber, producing more resistance with faster piston movement, the C300 Sport has such an "active damper."
That's like saying that this year's ExpeNaviBurbaLade has Impact Absorbing Pneumatic Tires.
The problem is that European markets are already enjoying genuine adaptive suspensions on their C Classes. The working name for that feature, which our market will get sometime next year, is Advanced Agility. Online Mercedes-Benz forums are already filled with pages attempting to clarify this nomenclature. It seems that even some U.S. Mercedes-Benz sales staff are telling customers that the button next to the shifter controls the adaptive suspension. When it does arrive in the 2009 C Class, the button controlling truly active dampers will be at the base of the center stack.
December 06, 2007
Who says GM is the only one promoting E85? Our new Mercedes-Benz C300 long termer asks for either premium unleaded or E85 ethanol. It even has a yellow fuel filler cap like our old Tahoe.
This struck me as odd given that I haven't heard a word about the C300's flex fuel capability despite sitting through numerous press briefings on the latest C-Class. It's an interesting alternative given Mercedes' requirement for premium gasoline.
Then again, with the nearest ethanol station over hundred miles away, our C300's ability to burn it won't matter much. A closer station is expected to open up soon. Until then, we'll be paying for the top shelf stuff to keep our new Benz running clean.
Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Edmunds.com