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Old 07-28-2007, 01:09 PM   #1
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Default OT Car & Driver: The Best Entry Level Luxury Car >$40k (My Review)

No CNs.

Friday, Mercedes- Benz USA put on a formal pre-release test run event for the release of the new "C" class, for it's employees. I attended, and spent my whole day driving and filling out product development feedback forms. I thought some may find it interesting if I share my opinions/findings.

The format & the cars tested...

-BMW 328i
-Lexus is350
-Acura TL type "S"
-Infinity G35 sport
-MB c300 sport
-The Audi A4 was MIA (due to complete redesign for next year)

Each car has simliar base MSRP of around $32-33k. All were models tested were fully loaded, all chiming in around $40-420k. All were also automatic trans models.

This was a public road test day, not on-track. The concept of the test was to find which model had the nicest features, luxury feel, appeal, & performance, in a daily driven scenario. I won't bore you with the specs on each car, you can search google if you don't already know and are curious.

Pictures...

Sorry, I forgot to bring the camera, all I had was the phone .













On To The Results...

First let me say that all cars are VERY similar (RWD, 6 or 7 speed auto trans, GPS, leather, Sedan etc) The only one that doesn't fit in this test that well is the G35s. It has more power than every other model tested, yet fits in the price range. If you are in the market for something along these lines, find out what aspects of a car you are looking for most, and shop by that.

328i

The Good...

It is a nice car, and I can fully understand the appeal to consumers. The gearing is very nice, it has a good amount of acceleration. Like most BMWs, it handles and rides nicely. The positioning of the GPS display was prefect. It is recessed in the dash just enough to block glare, but is still completely visable.

The Bad...

The interior features and creature comforts are typical BMW fashion. Not very user friendly and comforting. The dash seems cluttered and controls for everything are spread out and not so easy to use. Although it is a nice all around car, it is no 335i. Personally, I would pass on this model.

G35s

The Good...

You get quite a large amount of power with this model for the price. It will out accelerate any of the other models tested. The best feature of this car was the steering wheel adustability. Not only is it a tilt-wheel, but the drivers-side dash will tilt for further adjustment.

The Bad...

I found the entertainment system to be lacking. The GPS wasn't as user friendly as most of the other models, the speakers didn't have the same sound and clarity. Essentially it is more "go" than "show".

Acura TL

The Good...

The interior is the best aspect of the auto. The leather felt nice, the seats were comfortable, all on the controls were within reach and easy to use. The interior layout of this car is one of the better ones.

The Bad...

It handles and rides like a new pickup truck. I found this to be the roughest riding car tested, and the handling alone puts it at the bottom of the pack.

C300 sport

The Good...

This car was by far the most comfortable and relaxing to drive. The amount of engineering time that went into the ride quality is amazing. It out handles and out comforts all of the other cars, it feels like it is on rails. It also has the nicest quality DVD display, and the sound system is harman-kardon 5.1, it was amazing. I can't speak highly enough about the braking either.

The Bad...

The auto-transmission is a dog. Simply the worst tested. I have driven the 6-speed manual version, and it is quite the opposite.

IS250...

The Good...

I had the most fun driving this vehicle I think. The sound system is dead even with the mercedes, simply perfect. Throttle response is amazing, and the handling is perfect... Just enough over-steer. I'd also put the ride quality second to the c300.

The Bad...

I only have two complaints. The body styling of the car really kills visiblity. The doors are taller, so in-turn the windows are smaller. The windsheild is also smaller. I'm 6'0 tall, and if I was any taller I would not be comfortable riding in it. The backseats are also very small.

Final thoughts...

If you are seriously considering an entry-level luxury car, take a look at the Lexus and the Mercedes.

The c300 is the best sport-luxury car option.
The IS250 is the best luxury-sports car option.

Each have their good aspects and bad aspect, go drive them for yourself

The only car I wouldn't even considering buying is the TL :shrugs:.
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Old 07-28-2007, 01:18 PM   #2
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I've driven the IS250, and an 07 G35 (non-sport). I'd buy the G35. Or pony up some extra $$$$ and get the IS350.
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Old 07-28-2007, 01:27 PM   #3
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The Best Entry Level Luxury Car >$40k

Either your alligator is facing the wrong way, or that's an interesting niche market there... Entry level luxury cars greater than $40K!?!
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Old 07-28-2007, 01:31 PM   #4
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Nice read. Will be waiting for the results of the > $50K test of the C63, M3, S5.
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Old 07-28-2007, 01:32 PM   #5
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What are your impressions of the C32?
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Old 07-28-2007, 02:23 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hotass6gt View Post
What are your impressions of the C32?
there is no C32 (anymore). The new AMG C-class is the C63, not quite out yet.
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Old 07-28-2007, 02:30 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by serendipity View Post
there is no C32 (anymore). The new AMG C-class is the C63, not quite out yet.
I know...I'm looking at either an '02 or 03. Seeing that the OP works for MB, I was wondering if he drove one, and his thoughts.
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Old 07-28-2007, 02:33 PM   #8
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At 42K I'd definitely take a look at the M35 with no options as a comparison. Also, why no A4 in this comparison?
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Old 07-28-2007, 02:34 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hotass6gt View Post
What are your impressions of the C32?
Quote:
Originally Posted by serendipity View Post
there is no C32 (anymore). The new AMG C-class is the C63, not quite out yet.


It is the most mind blowing car I have seen in quite sometime. Mercedes is hitting the streets hard this year with huge campaign the and amazing new cars. If you have the bankroll for the 63, at the very least go test drive it. You won't even remember what a BMW M-series is anymore.
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Old 07-28-2007, 02:36 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stanley View Post
At 42K I'd definitely take a look at the M35 with no options as a comparison. Also, why no A4 in this comparison?
Audi's new A4 will be out early next year. It is being completely revamped from the ground up, so the R&D people didn't find it fitting to test a car that is going to be completely different in 6 months.
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Old 07-28-2007, 02:37 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrinkAV8 View Post


It is the most mind blowing car I have seen in quite sometime. Mercedes is hitting the streets hard this year with huge campaign the and amazing new cars. If you have the bankroll for the 63, at the very least go test drive it. You won't even remember what a BMW M-series is anymore.
I wish I had the bankroll for the C55...lol

The 32 is coming into my price range now...about 24-28k. It was this or an STi to save up for. There's something special about a hand built 349hp S/C'd motor that gives me tingles.
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Old 07-28-2007, 02:40 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrinkAV8 View Post


It is the most mind blowing car I have seen in quite sometime. Mercedes is hitting the streets hard this year with huge campaign the and amazing new cars. If you have the bankroll for the 63, at the very least go test drive it. You won't even remember what a BMW M-series is anymore.
Only pictures I have found of that car show it in automatic...tell me that isn't the only way to get it...
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Old 07-28-2007, 02:41 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by palmerx141 View Post
Only pictures I have found of that car show it in automatic...tell me that isn't the only way to get it...
AMG seven speed auto with paddles...wouldn't seem to suck that much...lol
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Old 07-28-2007, 03:17 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hotass6gt View Post
I wish I had the bankroll for the C55...lol

The 32 is coming into my price range now...about 24-28k. It was this or an STi to save up for. There's something special about a hand built 349hp S/C'd motor that gives me tingles.
Know what else gives you tingles? Having your car in the service bay 2+ times a month. Out of every mercedes ever built, i think the C32 had the most problems by a long shot. IC piping breaking, s/c needing overhauls, etc etc.
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Old 07-28-2007, 03:26 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrinkAV8 View Post


It is the most mind blowing car I have seen in quite sometime. Mercedes is hitting the streets hard this year with huge campaign the and amazing new cars. If you have the bankroll for the 63, at the very least go test drive it. You won't even remember what a BMW M-series is anymore.
When I was shopping for a replacement for my Legacy (after coming home from driving a rental BMW on the Nurburgring, I knew I was going RWD and German), there was nothing Mercedes offered that was nearly sporty enough. AMG means huge horsepower, but always automatic transmissions and pretty heavy. It came down to either going all the way in that direction and spending $45k or so on a used E55, or getting an M3, which is relatively slow, but feels much more buttoned down and actually has a proper transmission. The C63 looks good, but it's still the same AMG formula...

I looked at Lexuses, but every lexus dealer I've ever set foot in has been staffed by huge pricks who won't even give me the time of day when I walk up in jeans and a t-shirt.

The 335 was nice, but between the 2 month wait list for a coupe or convertible, and the cost of options, I just couldn't justify 50k. The used M3 was a pretty easy sell at that point.
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Old 07-28-2007, 03:52 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BUstang View Post
Know what else gives you tingles? Having your car in the service bay 2+ times a month. Out of every mercedes ever built, i think the C32 had the most problems by a long shot. IC piping breaking, s/c needing overhauls, etc etc.
The only problem with the C32's is the kompressors have been known to wear out. Nothing out of the ordinary though. The c-class has always been MB's reliable line, AMG or not.

You can't really compare it to the STi though. If it was me, I'd go AMG, but they are two different animals.
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Old 07-28-2007, 04:00 PM   #17
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entry-level luxury cars costing over $40k?

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Old 07-28-2007, 04:01 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by WRX300 View Post
entry-level luxury cars costing over $40k?

Base in the 30's. You know how fast the extras can add up though
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Old 07-28-2007, 05:08 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BUstang View Post
Know what else gives you tingles? Having your car in the service bay 2+ times a month. Out of every mercedes ever built, i think the C32 had the most problems by a long shot. IC piping breaking, s/c needing overhauls, etc etc.
I work with a lot of people that own MB's...they all swear they are built for 250k miles...I would also point out that getting an extended warranty would be in my best interest lol



Quote:
Originally Posted by DrinkAV8 View Post
The only problem with the C32's is the kompressors have been known to wear out. Nothing out of the ordinary though. The c-class has always been MB's reliable line, AMG or not.

You can't really compare it to the STi though. If it was me, I'd go AMG, but they are two different animals.
I've read in a couple of MB forums that the fix is replacing the supercharger on the 2002 with the one from 2003MY.

I also wonder how efficient the water to air intercooler is, being that it sits in the "valley". I know it has a radiator to cool the liquid, but...
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Old 07-28-2007, 05:27 PM   #20
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How was the handling on the G35? It sound like all you need to do is replace the entertainment system and you have a really great car.
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Old 07-28-2007, 06:08 PM   #21
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How was the handling on the G35? It sound like all you need to do is replace the entertainment system and you have a really great car.
The handling on the G35 was alright. The ride quality was also mediocre. The best aspect of it truly is the peak HP, and how fast it is for the class of car. I think Infinity has skimpted a bit on product quality over the past few years. It's a shame too, because to me, the g35s was the best looking model I tested .
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Old 08-11-2007, 06:30 PM   #22
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Bump for TheDon
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Old 08-11-2007, 06:42 PM   #23
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Thanks, I read the review and I will wait to see the reviews once it comes out. We've owned a few Mercedes within the past 4 years so maybe I'll get a decent deal on one.
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Old 08-11-2007, 06:48 PM   #24
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Old 08-15-2007, 12:18 PM   #25
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So how hard is it to get a stripper 300 Sport with a clutch? Though if I did something like this I may as well get European delivery and take a vacation as well.
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