Car Review: 2016 Mercedes-Benz C300

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Car Review: 2016 Mercedes-Benz C300

Postby Beernpotatoes » Fri Mar 04, 2016 8:08 pm

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This is going to be tough for me because this is the newer, improved version of the car I just bought last year. I'm writing this through teeth clenched with envy...

A big thanks to United Airlines for making this review possible, by the way. I was supposed to fly into Tucson last month for a meeting, but, because they stranded me the night before, the only flight they had the next morning to Arizona landed in Phoenix, meaning that I had to rent a car for the day to drive to Tucson and back. I had reserved a new Mustang and was going to review that, but, as with everything else on that horrible trip, my reservation was fouled up and they didn't have a car for me. Looking back, it's possible that the folks at the rental car counter could see the corner of my eye twitching as I prepared to explode in full on travel rage. Or, maybe Enterprise's customer service is just really good. Either way, they apologized profusely and handed me the keys to a brand new Mercedes-Benz. Thank you, Sir, that'll do.

So about the car. It's a beautiful work of art. Just look at the picture. Seriously. A German designed this car (maybe his mother was Italian??). If this car is Julia Stegner, then the previous model is Gert Fröbe. I’m saying that this makes my old model look like a grumpy, middle-aged man.

And holy sh!t is it fast. I mean... Mindbogglingly fast. I tried to test its 0-60 time and realized that I had accidentally tested its 0-100 time. On the freeway, I had to constantly pull it back under 90. No hyperbole. This is the fastest car I have ever driven, and it was so effortlessly smooth that 80 felt like 40.

So. It oozes sex AND power.

Everything else about it is terrible. As soon as I sat in the driver's seat, it became apparent what had gone wrong: clearly, some dipshit at MB came in one day, probably after a particularly bad morning commute, and decided to f@ck with their customers.

The result is that absolutely nothing inside the car is where it should be, and it's all intentionally over-complicated. For example, there are no fewer than 7 buttons to control the seat position. None of them are actually ON the seat, and all of them make the seats less comfortable.

Secondly, MB has decided to have all of the user systems, such as temperature controls, entertainment, telephone, etc. combined into one, centralized computer interface. Then, they covered the main control knob for it with an awkward hand rest.

Adding the climate control interface to the same centralized user interface as the phone and entertainment center is an example of doing something because you can, not because it's actually better. First, consider how utterly pointless it is to have a precise, computer controlled climate system operated by the driver. Every single person who ever buys this car is going to pick one temperature they like the first time they get into this car and will never touch it again. Plus, by having to scroll through the climate control menus while trying to change the radio station, you get the added fun of never knowing whether you'll get some groovy tunes or an unexpected A/C blast to the face when you hit "enter" while trying to keep your eyes on the road. This is especially exhilarating in a car that creeps up to 100 mph any time you take your eyes off of the speedometer.

Finally, the interior is not merely horrible; it's deceptively horrible. On first blush, it's all plush leather and designer accent pieces that make you THINK you're stepping into a Manhattan penthouse condo, but once inside, it punishes you. Despite the expensive materials and fine craftsmanship, it's uncomfortable and intimidating. This car is a lot like one of those old Twilight Zone episodes where the guy gets everything he wants, and ends up miserable.

But.... HOLY CRAP THIS CAR IS FAST!!!!
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Re: Car Review: 2016 Mercedes-Benz C300

Postby LegionofShrooms » Sat Mar 05, 2016 3:58 am

Great review, BeerNPotatoes.

I'd be livid if I were the engineer that worked on the bones of that car.

To have such a lovingly crafted work with a sleek design and smooth performance screwed up by some halfwit that doesn't know how to design a basic interior should be a crime.
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Re: Car Review: 2016 Mercedes-Benz C300

Postby Beernpotatoes » Sun Mar 06, 2016 3:00 pm

I think that the problem luxury car makers face is how to differentiate their cars from the hundreds of lesser expensive models. In the 1970's, adding power windows and air conditioning made you car a "premium luxury" model. But electronic gizmos keep getting cheaper and more readily available. These days, even the base model Toyota comes with blue tooth, high end sound systems and reverse cameras. So how does a company like Mercedes Benz or BMW justify charging so much more for their cars? Even if the C300 is faster, better looking and better made than a Toyota (but is it REALLY better made?), most buyers can't see those things. In order for MB to get consumers to fork over close to $50k for a sedan, they need to convince the consumer that they'll be getting something exotic. So, I think that the increasingly bizarre interiors are a desperate attempt to remain "premium."
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Re: Car Review: 2016 Mercedes-Benz C300

Postby blehblah » Tue Mar 08, 2016 2:13 am

Travel rage... I keep it on the inside, though I also occasionally get those eye spasms.

I'd be curious to read your take on Infiniti. The one that lines-up against this is the Q 50, which is a newer generation of my G 37 sedan (X, because - Canada).

A few years back a tired colleague dropped me in the drivers seat of his C-series for a few hours on a road trip, and I wasn't thrilled. Nice touches, okay feel of the road, but underwhelming on comfort and performance. Another colleague did the same in his 10-cylinder variant on the A6 (S6, I believe)... and that was a fun-as-shit car.

After some shopping here in Canada (perhaps due to import taxes and the like) the 328-horse, naturally aspirated Nissan 3.5-come-3.7 Infiniti engine was hard to resist once I priced Merc's, Audi's, BMW's, and the like, up to the same performance.

Anyhow - if you've taken one for a spin, please do tell. If not, go find an excuse.
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Re: Car Review: 2016 Mercedes-Benz C300

Postby Beernpotatoes » Tue Mar 08, 2016 1:33 pm

blehblah wrote:Travel rage... I keep it on the inside, though I also occasionally get those eye spasms.

I'd be curious to read your take on Infiniti. The one that lines-up against this is the Q 50, which is a newer generation of my G 37 sedan (X, because - Canada).

A few years back a tired colleague dropped me in the drivers seat of his C-series for a few hours on a road trip, and I wasn't thrilled. Nice touches, okay feel of the road, but underwhelming on comfort and performance. Another colleague did the same in his 10-cylinder variant on the A6 (S6, I believe)... and that was a fun-as-shit car.

After some shopping here in Canada (perhaps due to import taxes and the like) the 328-horse, naturally aspirated Nissan 3.5-come-3.7 Infiniti engine was hard to resist once I priced Merc's, Audi's, BMW's, and the like, up to the same performance.

Anyhow - if you've taken one for a spin, please do tell. If not, go find an excuse.



I've driven the G37 coupe. The coupe is essentially the 350/370z... only livable. Where the Z is a hardened track car, the G37 is comfortable and enjoyable to drive. They've got the same motor, but it seemed to me that the gearbox in the G37 was more subtle, making the ride smoother. I don't know if that's true, or if I just assumed it because the suspension was also more forgiving than the Z. I liken the G37 Sedan and Coupe to the Z and the Maxima. Where the coupe is the rich people's version of the Z, the Sedan is the upscale version of the Maxima, which, for reasons that escape me, has become uglier and uglier as the years go by.

Anyway, all four are very fast and very good, and each offers it's own take on performance. The only downside to any of them is that Nissan's maintenance history/reputation is not as good as its Japanese counterparts. If you like the new G50 (and I haven't tried it out yet), you might also look at the new Lexus LS 350 Sport (being Toyota, they have to make at least 10 configurations of every car: LS 200, LS 200 tF Sport, LS 300...etc.) for a true comparison. I saw it at the auto show earlier this year and it was simply stunning. I know that Lexus has a reputation for making really dull and uninteresting cars designed for suburban real estate agents, but I think I might have actually drooled a little bit over this one.
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Re: Car Review: 2016 Mercedes-Benz C300

Postby blehblah » Tue Mar 08, 2016 4:23 pm

Beernpotatoes wrote:If you like the new G50 (and I haven't tried it out yet), you might also look at the new Lexus LS 350 Sport (being Toyota, they have to make at least 10 configurations of every car: LS 200, LS 200 tF Sport, LS 300...etc.) for a true comparison. I saw it at the auto show earlier this year and it was simply stunning. I know that Lexus has a reputation for making really dull and uninteresting cars designed for suburban real estate agents, but I think I might have actually drooled a little bit over this one.


Q 50... for some reason, Infiniti rationalized all of their model nomenclature. Where they used to have <letter> - <displacement> they now have <letter> - <some number>. Something, and this is really terribly minor, that I noted is the Q 50 has a "3.7" badge on it... might've been better to keep it clean.

I did look at Lexus a while back, and the variants drove me nuts. I like a car that has two or three drivetrains, and two or three option groups. Lexus, BMW, and the "classics" (yes, I see Lexus as a classic, because they behave that way) offer plenty of variations to suit the customer, but at the dealership it struck me as more of a shell game with the inevitable conclusion of, "SURPRISE, this vehicle is now $20K more than it was ten minuted ago!".

That said, the reviews and reliability ratings for Lexus are at the top. Nissan has come a long way, and the one I own has been so solid that I occasionally have angst - baby, is there something I'm not doing, because I feel like I'm not doing enough... - but, they aren't yet Toyota or Honda level.

I had two "nyah's" about Lexus, though. At the time, they didn't have something with the performance. They were clearly going after Mercedes (old man market, though Mercedes has come a long way) while Infiniti was going after the BMW and Audi crowd. When I was shopping, Lexus, Merc, and Acura had vehicles with plenty of creature-comfort, but not much vrooom to them (unless I stepped-up $20K or more).

The second "nyah" was the recent Lexus grill. It's down to taste... but by my taste, what the hell is that thing?

On taste, I suppose there are cars that are anthropomorphic and ones that are organic. I do like the Infinity flow design - organic shapes and curves. I don't mind the anthropomorphic Audi's and bulldog BMW's, but the Lexus grill is not for me. Of course, I'm talking sedans - the big trucks are equally horrible across the board. The mid-sized are getting okay-ish (while seemingly trying to ape the Acura MDX, a rare Honda design that I've liked over the years) but the bigguns, like the 4-Runner, are awful.
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Re: Car Review: 2016 Mercedes-Benz C300

Postby Beernpotatoes » Tue Mar 08, 2016 5:13 pm

One thing to bear in mind is that reputation is just that - it's the collective opinion of a lot of people, and it doesn't necessarily translate into individual experience.

I had a Dautsun 280ZX when I was a young, single man, and it was fantastic in many many ways. I loved it so much that I only traded it in (very reluctantly) when my son was born. It had 265,000 miles on it, and I never did much more than put oil, tires and belts into it. My kid brother had a Nissan Sentra in the 1990's that he delivered pizzas in all through high school and college and that car was indestructible. I mean, like he and his buddies used to drift it, get it airborne, and take it over dirt courses indestructible.

The Toyota Camry I traded the 280Z for also lasted a long time and was very reliable, but the Toyota I bought six years ago crapped out on me twice and I finally traded it with less than 100,000 miles on it. My wife's Honda Civic always seems to have something wrong with it. Her daughter drives it now, but we seem to keep having to dump money into it to keep it on the road. Likewise the BMW I owned was horrible - over the time I owned it, I spent more than $20,000.00 on repairs (some of which was covered by warranties, but still!). I owned a Volvo that was such a lemon that I dumped that in less than two years. So much for Europeans and their snooty attitudes toward American cars!

My point is this: If you asked me what the most reliable car manufacturer was, I'd probably STILL say Honda. My own experience is clearly an outlier and Honda has earned its good reputation for a reason. BUT, I'd also tell you that I've had very good luck with Nissan/Dautsun.
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Re: Car Review: 2016 Mercedes-Benz C300

Postby iMURDAu » Wed Mar 09, 2016 1:43 am

All this talk about Nissan makes me want to tell the story of my recent Altima rental. I've never driven a unibody car that felt like it was body on frame but now I have. Maybe its the mushy suspension or cheap tires but the car resisted any change in direction.

But worst of all: If CVT's are the transmission of the future then I'm going to openly cry for the youth of Earth. Pushing the gas pedal is a crapshoot. Do I shoot forward? Do I slowly sputter forward? Does it just make a lot of noise and not propel the car at all? It all depends on the mood of fuel economy minded computer. When our Civic lease is up and its time to get another car we're considering a manual since Honda decided their engines should now be shackled to a manic set of planetary gears.
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Re: Car Review: 2016 Mercedes-Benz C300

Postby blehblah » Wed Mar 09, 2016 5:00 am

iMURDAu wrote:All this talk about Nissan makes me want to tell the story of my recent Altima rental. I've never driven a unibody car that felt like it was body on frame but now I have. Maybe its the mushy suspension or cheap tires but the car resisted any change in direction.

But worst of all: If CVT's are the transmission of the future then I'm going to openly cry for the youth of Earth. Pushing the gas pedal is a crapshoot. Do I shoot forward? Do I slowly sputter forward? Does it just make a lot of noise and not propel the car at all? It all depends on the mood of fuel economy minded computer. When our Civic lease is up and its time to get another car we're considering a manual since Honda decided their engines should now be shackled to a manic set of planetary gears.


I miss being able to buy a vehicle with a manual transmission... I am pondering putting-out a few grand on a Miata, or the like, just to have that feel and control again.
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Re: Car Review: 2016 Mercedes-Benz C300

Postby Matthew Notch » Wed Mar 09, 2016 3:50 pm

When our car got wrecked (curses, 90 year-old man in the Wendy's drive-thru!) we actually did get a manual model from the dealership to replace it. They had to drive it in special from Kansas City, but it actually came to us a little cheaper than our old car. We soon found out this was because it didn't include cruise control, which was just constantly irritating to the missus when we first got it. Indeed, I would have gone back to the dealership to complain if I didn't think it was so fun to drive anyway.

Beernpotatoes is right, too. Our car, which has to be the cheapest car you can buy brand-new, has Bluetooth and XM and all the amenities, but the interior does not leave me scratching my head every time. There are four settings on a blower motor for the heater/A/C and that's the extent of the climate control, but I'd take that over a complicated series of menus that may also play the old inopportune rap song if I push the screen in the wrong place. BnP would probably slap me right in my whore mouth for it, but I'd sell that car to anyone with a clear conscience.
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Re: Car Review: 2016 Mercedes-Benz C300

Postby blehblah » Wed Mar 09, 2016 4:03 pm

Matthew Notch wrote:When our car got wrecked (curses, 90 year-old man in the Wendy's drive-thru!)


He was a fresh sixty when he got there, have some respect.

Gosh...
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Re: Car Review: 2016 Mercedes-Benz C300

Postby Beernpotatoes » Wed Mar 09, 2016 7:00 pm

blehblah wrote:On taste, I suppose there are cars that are anthropomorphic and ones that are organic. I do like the Infinity flow design - organic shapes and curves. I don't mind the anthropomorphic Audi's and bulldog BMW's, but the Lexus grill is not for me.


Ok, I thought it was just me. Yeah, the Lexus grill is fugly. But I've always thought the cadillacs were ugly, too, but they keep winning design awards. Apparently, it's innovative if you design a car using nothing but a ruler.
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Re: Car Review: 2016 Mercedes-Benz C300

Postby LegionofShrooms » Thu Mar 10, 2016 7:34 pm

Beernpotatoes wrote:I think that the problem luxury car makers face is how to differentiate their cars from the hundreds of lesser expensive models. In the 1970's, adding power windows and air conditioning made you car a "premium luxury" model. But electronic gizmos keep getting cheaper and more readily available. These days, even the base model Toyota comes with blue tooth, high end sound systems and reverse cameras. So how does a company like Mercedes Benz or BMW justify charging so much more for their cars? Even if the C300 is faster, better looking and better made than a Toyota (but is it REALLY better made?), most buyers can't see those things. In order for MB to get consumers to fork over close to $50k for a sedan, they need to convince the consumer that they'll be getting something exotic. So, I think that the increasingly bizarre interiors are a desperate attempt to remain "premium."


You know, even though I intellectually knew that it was a bid at seeming "exotic", I have to admit I hadn't considered the angle of how former "luxury" features have become the standard thanks to increasingly cheap and available technology.

That said, I suppose I'm a painfully straightforward person, so I tend to think of things in a boringly straightforward manner and usually consider the practical functions of a feature over the "feel" of it (with some exceptions regarding personal taste towards aesthetics).

Just my personal weigh in, but it seems like if they wanted to still make it seem more luxury, certain smaller touches might have been more deft, like heated leather seats (can you have heated leather? I legitimately don't know), a built in navigation system or included wifi projection as some cars have now, a built in mp3 system, rear view cameras, theft protection through virtue of a tracking system and something built in akin to OnStar for assistance in emergencies, things of that ilk.

Or if you wanted to do something like the climate control settings and different settings for the seats, make it more user friendly as its own separate feature from the rest of the car controls.

But that's just my tastes.
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Re: Car Review: 2016 Mercedes-Benz C300

Postby iMURDAu » Thu Mar 10, 2016 11:20 pm

Iirc rear view cameras are mandatory post 2015 models, most manufacturers if not all have a GPS tracker in case of... well not theft but to find people hiding from the repo man, also iirc most small cars have a nav option I know Honda offered it on the Civic 8 years ago when we started leasing. Most people don't even consider that a 10 year old Benz AMG has few if any tech features that are standard on most cars these days. Bluetooth and USB ports in 2006? Lulz.

Quality of materials, design, and vehicle dynamics/handling should be what separates the luxury cars from what peons like me drive.
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Re: Car Review: 2016 Mercedes-Benz C300

Postby Beernpotatoes » Fri Mar 11, 2016 10:52 pm

LegionofShrooms wrote:... like heated leather seats (can you have heated leather? I legitimately don't know), a built in navigation system or included wifi projection as some cars have now, a built in mp3 system, rear view cameras, theft protection through virtue of a tracking system and something built in akin to OnStar for assistance in emergencies, things of that ilk.

Or if you wanted to do something like the climate control settings and different settings for the seats, make it more user friendly as its own separate feature from the rest of the car controls.

But that's just my tastes.


Yes, most luxury cars have heated leather seats and most have nav systems. Of course, the best Nav system is Waze on your smartphone because it gives you real time traffic and speed trap warnings. The nav systems built into cars have to be updated, and that usually is an extra fee, whereas your smartphone updates automatically.

A built in wifi hotspot like GM now offers on chevy models is GM's way of saying, "Ok, we admit that our drivers are a--holes who can't stop f*cking with their devices while driving, so we decided to help them out."

One thing I'd like to see is a feature where you can project your smartphone screen up onto the car's display... so that you don't have to keep looking at your device. Another feature that seems to be coming around is built-in pandora/spotify/online music options. After all, XM Radio is soooo 1990's.
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