I’m driving through the Cascades listening to a combination of Wilco and Bob Dylan Bootleg sessions with the windows down and the late afternoon light filtering through the tall redwoods. The road curves and weaves between the old growth Douglas firs and red cedar. The warm smell of summer pavement and wet rocks filter through as my co-driver and I make our way to the base of one of the best known “fourteeners,” Mt. Rainier.
The car of choice isn’t what you might think of in settings like this–an old beat up Subaru Forester or perhaps an antique Land Rover would seem more apropos in such a rugged setting; but we’re moving along in a brand new 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. The car agilely handles the sweeping curves and undulations without a complaint, overtaking our Subaru and pick-up truck friends without breaking a sweat.
The C-Class is a special car for Mercedes-Benz. Situated between the entry level CLA that launched to huge praise late last year (check out a video review I did with Peter Valdes-Dapena at CNN here) and the E-Class, it occupies a space targeting what Mercedes calls the “young professional,” aged 35 to 45 who is “up and coming with lots of runway.” With the introduction of the entry level CLA, the C-Class has been able to move up in the product line and open the doors to those “affluent up-and-comers” that Mercedes has been seeking; and the truth is the car takes that spot in spades.
Designed to go up against he likes of Audi’s A4, BMW’s 3 series, Cadillac’s ATS, and Infiniti’s G35/Q50 the C300 and C400 offers the same suite of tech as the S-Class including an available best-in-industry cruise control, as well as standard features like power seats and Agility select. The car itself has lost around 200 lbs but gained in both length and girth, adding four inches to the length alone to give ample room for all occupants. The smaller engined C300 delivers a lively 241 hp, though, for my money, I’d (as always) go for the bigger engined C400 that puts out 329 hp. The pricing makes it incredibly competitive with others in its class as well; the C300 starts at $38,400 while the C400 comes in at $48,590. While those numbers aren’t anything to blink at, the overall quality and features you get in the new 2015 C-Class makes it an extremely appealing deal.
Add to that a really clever social marketing plan and the C-Class could prove to be a huge success. Mercedes teamed up with LinkedIn to offer a program they call “Driven to Perform,” where LinkedIn users can nominate people in their professional circles to win a 2-year lease on a C300. The event will run until August 18 and asks users to write short 500-word blurbs on why their nominee deserves to win the classy sedan. They will take into consideration how active the person is across social platforms and the winner will be announced in September.
In a busy year of launches, Mercedes-Benz has another great car on it’s hands in the C-Class whether you’re rolling through the Washington countryside or pulling up to your office building in downtown Manhattan.