Meanwhile... at Mercedes
I was recently very impressed with a rental car I drove in California. The Ford Explorer I had reserved at a great price through Hertz was not available, and in its place sat a well used and ridiculous looking silver Chevy Tahoe. Honesty I didn’t realize they still made such an outdated vehicle. Now normally for a short term rental this wouldn’t have been a problem, but this was 11 days and nearly 2000 miles of driving all over California, not to mention all over Monterey during car week. I found a very helpful agent and whined just enough to upgrade for a few dollars more into a nice little Mercedes C250 sedan.
A 2013 C250. Yeah, that is the last generation turbo 4 cylinder 1.8L powered midsize Mercedes C class sedan. And it was a great car. Easily the best driving european entry level sedan I have tested in that class. It also featured fantastic mileage and enough power to stay on the bumper of a last generation SL500 during a road rally in the Carmel valley. I needed to look into this car a bit deeper at least to bone up on current Mercedes offerings. The reviews were good and the prices fair but then I noticed something. The car was gone, as in no longer in the line-up. Seems that it was replaced by two different cars. The 2014 CLA 250 on the entry level side and the 2014 C300 4-matic sedan on the top side. I like the styling of the CLA but it’s front wheel drive architecture does not work for me as a real driver and the C300 sounds great right up until 4-matic. It seems Mercedes is obsessed with this 4-matic. In fact most all of their cars are heavily biased to include this as standard, even in the high performance high horsepower AMG versions. In fact you cannot buy a C class Mercedes without front or 4 wheel drive? I’m sorry guy’s, you lost me again. You simply cannot hide the mechanical and unsprung weight disadvantages of all wheel drive with fancy traction control, just like you cannot make an SUV handle correctly by making it lower and adding huge tires. Obsession with technology has driven current German cars to be heavily optioned with things I don’t really need. That is bothersome but workable. But when it starts actually making the vehicle physically heavier in all the wrong places, that is where I have to draw the line. Close but no cigar, Mercedes.