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SeedOfChaos
03-04-08, 02:38 PM
My employer (Daimler) gave me brand new C 280 Estate with many options to drive it for a week, which is now over, I have to bring it back tomorrow. I don't want to. Really, I don't.

The C-Class estate isn't sold in the US, but Mercedes' offer in Europe is quite more differentiated. Here's a link to the UK website:
http://www2.mercedes-benz.co.uk/content/unitedkingdom/mpc/mpc_unitedkingdom_website/en/home_mpc/passengercars/home/new_cars/models/c-class/s204.flash.html#chapter=1

Anyway, before I had this car for a week, I thought "well yeah, it's a nice car, but what the hell would I need it for", despite working for Daimler. When they handed over the keys, I was not excited at all, during training I had driven it before, so it was nothing new to me.

But having it for a week in daily life is something different. I press the unlock button on the remote, the car greets me with a friendly beep, and the lights turn on as I walk towards it. I sink into the leather seats and turn the engine on, while the Comand display comes up and the system connects to my mobile phone via bluetooth - thus without me having to do anything (except for the initial bt pairing, which is very painless).

I press the Linguatronic button, and command it with my voice to navigate me to a certain address. Without any learning phase like the older voice recognition systems had, it Linguatronic perfectly executes my voice commands. After less than two seconds, the route is calculated, thanks to the harddisk, there are no more 30 second waits like with CD/DVD based navigation systems. The airco defogs the windows in a matter of seconds (I'd say 15 at most), while the seat heating makes the cold leather comfortable for my behind.

Then the 3 liter 6-cylinder revs up as I engage the reverse of the 7G-Tronic automatic gearbox (7 forward, 2 reverse gears), to get out of the parking spot. A moderate rumbling lets me know that 231 horsepower are at my disposal. I switch the gearbox into sport mode, and take off. It takes this car just 7.5 seconds to accelerate to 100 kmh (62 mph), thus so much less time to get to the city limit of 50 kmh (31 mph). To make sure I don't get a ticket, I set the speed limiter to 55, at the flick of a switch. Via Linguatronic, I change the radio station.

While the power of the C280 is impressive, even more so is the rest of the car's driving systems. The 7G-Tronic has got the be the smoothest transmission I've ever driven, you hardly feel the gear shifts at all in comfort mode, while it performs excellently in sports mode. In sports mode, the six cylinders sing an anthem to motion, with the kickdown being a climax every time. Even at 180 kmh, it still wants to just go faster at an alarming rate - its top speed is 240 kmh.

Still, all that is surpassed by the steering of this car. It does a perfect (and I mean perfect) job of translating your intended movement of the car into reality. It drives like it's on tracks, but you're in charge of where the tracks lead to. I've floored it in turns, but the ESP system denies the rear wheel drive going off track completely, even on a wet surface. I'm simply left speechless by such precision. The C-Class does what you want it to do, and that with all the precision German engineering is famous for.

So much technology to make life on the road easier demands a matching coat to wear. The dark blue paint (tansanite blue metallic) looks very classy and is protected with nano particle varnish, which lets you use carwashs for a much longer time without fear for the shine. The interior is upholstered with high quality black leather and polished wood trim parts. Everything fits into place perfectly and is subtle, not bling bling. Comfort, class and style are words to come to my mind.

A fitting setting, that doesn't make you feel superior to the outside world, but so much more comfortable in it. You're never lost, you're never distracted by the assistance systems, you're safe in it (5/5 stars in the Euro NCAP tests (http://www.euroncap.com/carsearch.aspx?make=5338a261-97f4-4c93-a716-a4f38749cdb8&class=39ea856a-5cc5-4547-9405-47aa0c091b00)), and you can be reasonably sure it's there to last, because it's the most "tested before sales release" model Mercedes has ever made. Overall, "no hassle" is an attribute this car deserves.

So I arrive at my destination, ParkTronic tells me how much space I've got in front or behind my car, making it very easy to park it. If I'm ever closer than 8 inches to another car, it will give me an audible alert in addition to the visible distance indicator.

Initially I said I didn't think much of this gift from my employer for a week, because I drive very little. Since I've moved into walking distance to work, I probably drive less than 5,000 miles a year, so a car is normally just a utility to occasionally get me from A to B, preferrably with a bit of room to take stuff along.

I paid less than 3,000 for my current car (used), while the one I just had costs more than 60,000 new with all the options it has, well at least here in the Netherlands with its stupid car tax, the BPM. An amount that I will probably never spend on a car in my lifetime. But if I had a long daily commute and were in the market for an entry-level luxury sedan, the new C-Class would have a very very strong argument in its favor.

Disclaimer: I am an employee of Daimler, as initially stated. So naturally, this post is heavily biased and needs to be taken with a serious dose of salt. Nonetheless, I did not write this because they pay my bills, I wrote it because I am overwhelmed by what a car can be like, if you get to drive it daily instead of a quick test drive. Not even the Maybach 62 impressed me this much, which I got to test drive (or rather... be test driven, since it's a chauffeur type car).

twwabw
03-08-08, 06:54 AM
What a gorgeous car.... http://home.rochester.rr.com/twwonline/files/drool.gif

YeOldeStonecat
03-08-08, 06:56 AM
:thumb: Gotta admin...gorgeous lines. Exceptionally done on the rear half too..difficult for most wagon designs.

YARDofSTUF
03-08-08, 08:02 AM
Ya I'm not a wagon fan but I wouldn't mind having that or the BMW wagon either.