C400 4matic 329HP, 354Lb/ft turbo V6 had COMMAND +navigation, AMG wheels(standard sport pkg), sunroof package, hands free package and Blind spot monitoring

Exterior: Looks like any other C class but has AMG wheels. You either like it or don’t.

Interior: was very good quality. Had Piano black trim (Finger prints aarrgh) which I didn’t prefer and not the fantastic wood trim like other C-classes I have been in. the new C-Class interiors are my favorite of this segment and all the touch points, buttons, switches trim etc. was top notch. I didn’t check if seats were MBTex or Leather but they were aggressively bolstered. Loved the steering wheel feels good in your hands great material feel. COMMAND is not touch and there is a learning curve required I prefer IDrive and Audi MMI and the systems in Kia/Genesis.

The stalk style shifter was weird at first but it does make sense. Better than Buttons IMO. Rear seat was well. Just adequate, legroom was better than head and shoulder room, but then I sat behind myself adjusted for 5’11”. Definitely only a 4 seater because huge tunnel in back. Had to watch head when getting in and out. Much smaller than my G and immediately ruled it out for future purchase. E-class was much much better size wise without feeling too big and should fit us well.

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Visibility was not a problem except for a smaller rear windshield than expected. Doors come up high so can’t rest your elbow on them but armrests are soft and comfortable.

This had hands free package which I would skip. The COMMAND+navigation package is probably worth it as well as the safety tech. Premium and Sport packages are standard. Read this for more information

The drive: based on reviews I didn’t expect much and let me tell you right away that this is not a driver’s car. It is quiet, smooth, comfortable and fast but lacks the key ingredients to beat or even meet the 335i/340i.

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Steering is numb, no feedback. Hated it! Even the Genesis sport had better steering I think. Sport+ mode gave it some extra weight but nope, not good enough.

Cabin is typical Mercedes silent but unfortunately so is the engine. Wakes up in Sport+ mode and a note on the transmission which was super quick to respond but it is best suited for backroads because it was just too aggressive for suburban roads and freeways. Sport was the best balance. Comfort rarely took the engine over 2000 RPM where all the torque comes in. Speaking of which it pulls really good and smoothly. However I was impressed by the Genesis 3.3T more and Hyundai/Kia really nailed it with that powertrain. The 7 speed transmission was good in the 30 mins I drove. Didn’t think too much but you have to be in the right mode. Supposedly does 0-60 in 4.7 and feels as much but the experience is too isolating.

Ride is soft, expected more firmness. Body roll was controlled. Didn’t feel super heavy but didn’t feel light either. Handling capability is there but feel is not there. It was running Pirelli All seasons.

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Braking was good but brake pedal feel was squishy, the gas pedal had better feel.

In conclusion, if you like Mercedes you will like this a lot. But if you’ve driven the competition this doesn’t stack up. It’s neither a hammer nor a scalpel and that’s the problem. The C300 is an excellent car for what its mission is but try to make it an almost-AMG and it fails. I am assuming the C63 is excellent, haven’t driven one.I really hope they improved the steering, suspension tuning and sound for the C43 versions because if not it is undeserving of the AMG badge.

I also sat in the older 2015 E Class and a new 2017 E class and I was blown away by how amazing the new one is! It’s like a completely different level.

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2015 E class
2017+ E class

Evolution of the E class left to right

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It is also big enough to consider it an upgrade from my car. I did not test drive either because it was the E350(3.5 NAV6) and the E300 (2.oT 4) so I wasn’t interested. I think an E400 or E43AMG would be something I consider if I can get over the steering and soft ride. But who knows? I might prefer that as I get older. Looking at Autotrader for the cheapest ones around and 3 year old models around $35k seems to be a good car for the money but it has the older interior. A used 2017 E400/E43AMG should be a good option 3 years from now.

So anyway, test drive done, I got back in my car and was it felt so good to use old school tight hydraulic steering, free-revving loud V6 and firm pedals and more connected feeling to the road despite the additional cabin noise. Sometimes, not always after I drive newer cars it makes me happy to get back in my car again.