I’m not going to lie: I can seriously appreciate luxury cars. Unlike many, if I were lucky enough to win a significant sum via the lottery, I’d buy an army of old cars and not lose my girlfriend in the process. How great is that? But I digress…
Among the dozens of acquisitions I would make, a few would leave a new car showroom and they’d likely sport the badges Audi S8 or Mercedes-AMG S 63. The other would be a great big F-250 Super Duty or RAM 3500 for racecar towing purposes, and the last would be a quaint, innocuous compact luxury sedan for daily functions.
In that particular category of cars, selection is NOT an issue. I won’t list all of the cars available, but here are but a few: BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, Infiniti Q50, Cadillac ATS, Lexus IS and, well, the subject of this review: the all-new 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
Cut to the chase
So, although the new ATS, Q50, and IS are good, they simply don’t do what the Germans can and the clout surrounding these cars is, still to this day, something that can only be copied not duplicated. The intangible yet immediately recognizable aura is not an easy thing to match.
In the last year or so, I’ve driven a number of 3s, one Audi S4, and now the C 400 and I can tell you that the S4 comes out on top for a number of reasons including the 6-speed manual box, the way it drives, and the logo. After driving the C, it has now taken the second step on the podium, one above that of the BMW 3 Series.
A C-Class Mercedes
This is Merc’s bread-and-butter car in North America, and with reason. If the BMW was historically a yardstick in this category, the C-Class (starting somewhere around the W201 190E) was always the one to which it was measured. Whether or not the Bimmer was the better is or isn’t debatable, however, this time around my opinion is that the C nudged ahead.
The 2015 C’s design is immediately captivating thanks to its uncanny, highly desirable resemblance to the S-Class. The car’s character lines are highly distinctive, and the C’s profile mimics that of the S with a powerful front nose and a sensuously tucked in rear. The strength and elegance contained within the car’s footprint are promising.
In the process of designing and creating the new car, Mercedes called upon the use of aluminum and ultra-high-strength steel to drop 100kg (220lbs.). This brilliant decision has not gone unnoticed.
The C 400
The 400 steps it up a notch or two. The 2015 C-Class starts in C 300 guise with a 241-horsepower turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder engine for $43,000. A 7G-TRONIC PLUS 7-speed automatic transmission and 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive are standard on all C-Class models. The 400 challenges many sports cars with its twin-turbocharged 329 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque 3.0L V6.
When compared to the S4 or 335i, the C 400 boogies just as seriously with a 0-100km/h time of only 5.2 seconds. This can be explained by the sublime and responsive 7-speed autobox, and the fact that all torque is on tap as of 1,600 rpm. A brief and barely noticeable lull occurs around 5,000 rpm, but when max hp taps in at 6,000 rpm, I can only wonder how balls-out crazy the next AMG C-Class will be.
Speaking of AMG, the AMG exterior package (front and rear fascias, wheels, and other good stuff) is included with the $51,400 C 400 4MATIC.
A nimble C
The new C-Class drives impressively well, better than the previous two generations of the car despite it being considerably bigger than the W203 (2001-07) C. The reduction in weight plays a huge roll in this, as does the car’s alert steering.
As if to put more emphasis on the 2015 C-Class’ new-found dexterity, Mercedes fitted an AGILITY SELECT toggle switch that gives the driver a choice of five drive programs: “Comfort;” “Eco;” “Sport;” “Sport+,” and “Individual.” I found that comfort was the better pre-set setting. However, through Individual, I opted for the comfy ride while everything else was in sport.
And comfortable C
On the road, the C 400 is nearly impossible to perturb. The 4MATIC AWD system is seamless and proved unimpressed by the wintery driving conditions.
The C-Class is, after all, a Mercedes and as such offers up a nearly plush ride. This can be changed as explained above, but what cannot be altered is the well-appointed cabin replete with classy materials and restful seats.
Although snug (not as much as a Q50 though), the C 400’s interior quarters are not especially spacious. There is sufficient room for four occupants and some gear. The steering wheel is perfect in size and grip, and the dashboard’s ergonomics are simple, elegant and very S-Class-y.
That’s the excellent new C-Class’ cherry on the proverbial sundae: In terms of brand appeal, on a larger scale, it is very difficult to beat out Mercedes. The make says: “You’ve arrived” and I can certainly agree with that.
My segment selection would be the Audi S4, but every time I’d gaze upon a C 400 4MATIC, I’d wonder (albeit only vaguely) if I’d made the right choice…