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Old 11-08-2007, 02:00 PM
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Arrow New C-class has that Mercedes feel

New C-class has that Mercedes feel

On average, the angriest e-mails I get are from former Mercedes-Benz owners on the occasion of my saying something nice about the company's products. I imagine an irate reader pounding away at his keyboard in the wee hours of the morning, with a shiny Lexus in the driveway and a Stuttgart-made knife still quivering in his back. Allow me to gloss: "I can't believe you raved about the (insert gaudy hunk of German schteel here). I bought a Mercedes a few years ago and it was a total piece of (insert colorful metaphor here). I took it back to the dealer (exponential figure times) and finally got sick of them looking at me like I was speaking a foreign language (English?). So, when did you go on the company payroll, you toadying, Hun-loving shill?" What energizes these missives is a sense of betrayal, and in a perverse way - and wholly unwelcome, I'm sure - the galled, bug-eyed fury of disappointed buyers is a tribute to the expectations attached to the Mercedes-Benz brand. It is also, I believe, a measure of the hollowness of luxury and mass-class branding in general. When the plaid patterns on a Burberry's handbag don't line up; when Coach boots come marching out of Chinese factories; when Breitling, Baume the grade of materials is richer and more appealing than it looks in photos. This is an organized, serious interior with lots of evident deliberation behind it. Sight lines are excellent, and it is especially nice to be able to see the hood stretching out with small audacity, like the S-class. In the United States, the 2008 C-class comes in three varieties: the C300 Sport and C300 Luxury - both with the 3.0-liter, 228-horsepower V6 - and the C350 Sport, powered by holdover 3.5-liter, 268-horsepower V6 mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission. A six-speed manual transmission is standard in the 300 models, and 4Matic all-wheel drive is an option in all three cars. I tested the rear-drive C300 Sport with the seven-shifter and - inspired by the commercials - abused it about as hard as I could. The C300 isn't drunk with power, but with 221 pound-feet of torque from 2,700 to 5,000 r.p.m., and a quick-witted, adaptive transmission with seven gears in the transom, the car always seems to be on the right foot. Zero-to-60-m.p.h. acceleration is about seven seconds, and the car's high-speed cruising has a light, effortless Zen to it. I took the car through hill country and came away thinking the larger-engine option (and diminished fuel economy) couldn't pay for itself in adrenaline.

Source: [url=http://www.philly.com/philly/classifieds/cars/20071104_New_C-class_has_that_Mercedes_feel.html]Philadelphia Inquirer[/url]
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