January 30, 2008
From the flagship S-Class to the entry level C-Class, the Mercedes-Benz nameplate is synonymous with quality. But as the three-pointed star of Mercedes began to be stretched over more and more models during the last decade, the brand's reputation for quality began to slip. Recent generations of Mercedes, notably the lower-end models, have been plagued by quality issues in increasing frequency. For 2008 Mercedes turned its focus back to quality and it started by revamping the C-Class line.
Once we purchased an example of the all-new 2008 Mercedes-Benz C300, we had the opportunity to evaluate the improvements. Would this new generation return the C-Class to its glory days and quell the ailing quality reputation of Mercedes before things grew out of hand? We would find out. We would also encounter an unexpected factor in this test: the importance of good service at a trustworthy dealership.
There is more to driving a Mercedes-Benz C300 than the glamour of its badge. A reliable dealer experience can make or break the ownership experience. Unfortunately, we were nearly broken by our service center of choice.
Why We Bought It
Mercedes introduced an all-new C-Class for 2008, a real sign of progress for the brand in this segment. This new C300 is an attempt by Mercedes to polish the tarnished image of previous-generation C-Class models and the questions surrounding their reliability.
Our comparisons of the C350 with its competitors revealed that even this C-Class with a 3.5-liter V6 is generally underpowered among its peers. But the less expensive C300 offers the same finely finished interior, multimedia system and refinement as the C350. We were curious to see whether the faux leather would stand up to our kids. How easily could we sync our tunes with the dedicated iPod connector? Would the pop-up radio display break over time? The questions were already beginning.
A long-term Cadillac CTS was also days from entering the fleet. We looked forward to comparisons between the two entry-level luxury sedans. A check was cut, the C300 Sport purchased and our long-term test began.
The C300 Sport can look like this.
January 23, 2008
Most cars look like this when they open their hoods.
The C300 Sport can look like this.
January 20, 2009
I'm pretty sure the junkyard where I bought these wheels for my truck had never seen a Mercedes-Benz in the parking lot. And judging by the looks of the guys who helped me load the wheels into the C300's trunk, it was definitely the first time any parts from said junkyard were ever actually deposited into a Mercedes-Benz.
But as you can see, all four wheels fit just fine. And thanks to a lovingly thrown down towel, it suffered no permanent scrapes or bruises.
In fact, it seems as though our C300 has suffered very little wear over its 21,000 miles. The doors still close with a light touch and a solid thunk. There are no squeaks, no rattles, nothing. There are virtually no signs of wear anywhere in the car as far as I can tell and that's nothing to sneeze at given how this car has been passed around.
Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor @ 21,007 miles
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 12, 2009
I got behind the wheel of our C300 again for the first time in a long time and was reminded how much I like this car.
What I like most (and many will disagree with me) is it's looks. At first I thought the snub nosed German was a little much, but over time it has definitely grown on me. It has presence.
Granted the design is due to upcoming EU pedestrian safety regulations, but it's tough guy good looks are like putting a boxer with a mangled schnoz into a sharp looking tuxedo. He might not win a beauty contest, but his intimidating gaze won't let you doubt his style.
Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer
January 10, 2008
Mercedes-Benz may be a national treasure of Germany, but that didn't stop them from dropping a few models into the 100-percent American National Treasure: Book of Secrets. Specifically, a Mercedes-Benz C280 Sport driven by Nicholas Cage's Benjamin Franklin Gates on a chaotic car chase through the meandering streets of Central London. Pursued by Ed Harris in a Range Rover (along with henchmen in a London cab and a beer-keg-hauling lorry), the whiteish C-Class performs rather well. About a quarter of the chase is done with Gates driving backwards, with (thankfully) no Rockford attempted at any time by the novice driver.
Despite the name difference, the United Kingdom's C280 features the same engine as our C300, so basically, our car is a movie star.
My guess as to the name difference is that in the U.K, there are 3.0-liter gasoline (C280) and diesel (C320 CDI) engines available. Diane Kruger's Abigail Chase also drives what looks to be a GL550.
If you're wondering, the movie is OK. It's more of a stretch than the original film (that's saying something), but if you liked National Treasure, there's a good chance you'll at least be entertained by Book of Secrets. Just don't use it for historical purposes -- there's not really a lake behind Mt. Rushmore, I checked Google Maps.
James Riswick, Associate Editor
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