First Drive: 2015 Mercedes-Benz C400 W4 4MATIC
What use to be the brands entry-level sedan before the CLA-Class came into play has now entered a new playing field of class leading luxury and enhanced technology. With this new C400 starting at $48,590 its competition starts to look a bit thin competing against the Audi S4, BMW 335i and Lexus IS350 F SPORT.
Even with its new 329-horsepower 3.0-liter twin turbocharged engine packed under its hood, Mercedes targets the C-Class to consumers who are a bit more refined, constraint to the natures of relishing the finer things in life… with perhaps a hint of adventure on the side. Taking 4.7 seconds to 60 mph through its seven-speed dual clutch transmission, the C400 still knows how to show its driver a good time while getting lost in tranquility of indulgence. In our past experience of the MB’s seven-speed tranny, it was something we didn’t quite favor. However, working with this twin-turbo V6 makes a great combination – acceleration is aggressive but smooth, gear changes are immediate and responsive, and while there is a hint of turbo-lag in higher gears, power is always at your fingertips.
Despite the name, C400, the C-Class comes standard with that 3.0-liter engine – the 400 represents the W4 4MATIC All-Wheel Drive system which gives a more confident feel in its driving dynamics. While the C400 doesn’t have quite the same spirted oomph as the Audi S4 or the persistence of the Lexus IS350 F SPORT, it’s much more enriching while on the way to the Country Club to meet up for brunch. The steering is light enabling easy maneuverability while providing the driver a stimulating demeanor on the twisty bits of the road.
Our tester here featured an interesting AIRMATIC Package at $1190 which allows for an adjustable ride height through the air suspension system. This package also includes an Agility Select feature presenting five driving modes between Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport Plus and Individual – all geared to providing a diverse driving style. Using the sportiest of them all, Sport Plus, it will tighten the suspension and the adjust the gear ratios to hold the revolutions longer which makes driving on a the twisty roads very satisfying. However, for the duration of our week, we like our Benz to be in the most calmest of settings. We wanted to enjoy our moment, not ruin it by spilling our Starbucks every time we hit a pothole.
If you’re looking to get noticed, the C400 has all the right curves in the right places. The LED daytime lights and Steel Grey paint certainly appealed to wandering eyes and wearing AMG 18-inch shoes this C400 carried quite an exquisite stance. But the real magic happens inside and not because of the disco-blue ambient lighting. Our optioned black leather interior, as part of the $2300 Interior Package was unquestionably heavenly featuring multi-way power adjustable driver and passenger seats with heated and ventilated functions, three-way memory settings, and that groovy ambient lighting.
Settling into this C-Class, there is major S-Class influences. The gorgeous stainless steel trim work, the stunning ash wood interior and simpleminded dash design all works in harmony for a very luxurious rewarding interior. Even though the wood design is very chic, we couldn’t help but feel that it was a bit cheap for something that would appeal to the kind of buyer that prefers their fur coats made out of cute, furry creatures.
These days, Mercedes has been receiving a lot of negative feedback on their infotainment interface looking like an afterthought design. We however think quite the opposite. We like its contemporary intention – seems more fitting in this generation. We didn’t like it in the CLA because it looked like an aftermarket Garmin, but as part of the $2690 Multimedia Package, this 8.4-inch high definition COMAND Navigation system is exceptional! Using a new Star Trek designed touch pad interface, navigating is a bit tricky and will takes some time learn with the Salesman. On the plus side, if you don’t like it, you can use the dial knob which is much easier to use.
On the outside, this C400 looks like a good-sized sedan – that is until you get inside and have to play around with the power adjustments to keep from scrapping your head on the roof but not so much to where you’re literally sitting on the floor. The back seat showed signs of snugness – complaints were filed from passengers claiming the legroom was too snug, headroom was a little too tight and the seats were too short in their setting making it uncomfortable to sit. So we’ll designate that a kids only zone – or tell everyone to suck it up.
New technology in this day-in-age has been circling around the antonymous features. And featured here the $2800 Driver Assistance Package which includes Steering Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Pre-Safe Braking with Pedestrian Recognition, Rear Cross Traffic Assist, and Rear-End Collision Protection (whatever that is.) We found during our duration that the Active Lane Keeping Assist was very selective in when it decided to work, and when it did work it would apply the brakes and swerve you back into your lane causing a near heart attack experience – needless to say, we turned that off.
With our sampled C400 settling in at an as-tested price of $62,905 – we were equipped with an array of exciting features to keep us comfortable: Parktronic with Active Parking Assist ($970), Panorama Sunroof ($1480), a beautifully clear Heads-Up Display ($990), and the Hands-Free Access Package ($250) which offered us a Hands-Free Access Trunk and Electronic Trunk Closer.
Up to the moment we returned the keys back to Mercedes, we enjoyed our time in the C400. Clearly having that we averaged 26 mpg on Premium Fuel was a sign that we should have had a little more fun. EPA rates the C400 at 21/29/24 (city/highway/combined). Now that’s not to say our experience was a perfect one, we experienced some unsuspecting technical flaws – the Heads-Up Display decided to melt (but then fixed itself) and that touch pad would decide to stop working from time to time.
When you start laying 50-grand on the table for a new car, it doesn’t matter what we say or what our opinion is – it all comes down to your personal preference. If you want something that will leave you on the edge of your seat, the C400 isn’t going to work for you. But if you want something that will carry you in lavish luxury, refined comfort and resembles the supreme quality of an S-Class, than the C400 is your next best thing.
|Price (As Tested):|
|2015 Mercedes-Benz C400 W4 4MATIC:||$48,590|
|HANDS-FREE ACCESS Package:||$250|
|Special Steel Grey Paint:||$720|
|PARKTRONIC with Active Parking Assist:||$970|
|Driver Assistance Package:||$2,800|