Don’t be fooled by a pretty face; this car is super smart.
It’s like having a new thing you can’t take your eyes off it because you are just SO DARN EXCITED about it, and then realizing it’s so smart you can’t stop playing with it, either. Like a smart new pair of shoes that go with everything from black tie to distressed denim and are comfortable enough to wear all day and all night (like, yes, Christian Louboutins) or a handbag that is reinventing function, like the Ralph Lauren Ricky Bag (above), which has a battery charger built in and an interior light—YAY! That was the feeling I got when I test drove the Mercedes-Benz C400: it not only flatters your good taste but also, delights your intellect with its very cool in-car tech, including its magic mouse, which lets you write out instructions with your finger.
Yup. Write out instructions with your finger. Here’s what I mean:
But before I fell in love with the C400’s tech, it had me with its airy cabin and beautifully detailed upholstery. Attention to small details, like lights on the door handles and stitched leather on the dashboard add to the C400’s refined feel. But maybe my favorite feature is the panoramic sunroof that lets in a TON of light. Like, do-your-makeup-in-the-car sort of light. Or photos-on-a-cloudy-day-look-great sort of light. And we all know how important vitamin D and sunlight are when it comes to mood and happiness.
But what I really liked was how the car fit my life, which means logging hours in the car shuttling kids around and also, getting work done while I wait for them. I could sit comfortably in the C400 for hours and not just because the seats were comfortable (they are), but because the interior has the 5 things a car needs to be a good mobile office, from WiFi and Bluetooth to seats and a steering wheel that move, giving you room to work.
In-car technology that’s delightful and fun
The car’s deeply layered technology system lets you control virtually all the car’s functions. Starting with the iPad-like screen that sits prominently on the dashboard and the mouse and rotary dial that control it, you can do everything from resetting the color of the car’s ambient interior lighting, the volume on the car’s locks, the seatbelt adjustments, the keyless entry system, voice control, text reading speeds and more.
Who thought of all this stuff? There’s no end to the clever features in the C400
You just know the Mercedes-Benz engineers must arrive at work every day giddy with delight at the things they get to think of and put into these cars. Here are some of the smarter ones:
Ride height adjustment, which allows you to raise or lower the car a few inches; this ensures that its wing-shaped outward flared bumper will clear the curb in a parking lot (hitting one of these can be an expensive mistake). The real purpose is to create a lower center of gravity for a sportier drive experience, or raise the car to make speed bumps, snow or uneven pavement easier to drive over.
The entertainment system has nicely sized display screens that pop up as you scroll through and —love this—there’s little or no lag between signals when changing satellite stations, and the Burmester sound system fills the cabin with rich, resonating sound.
Rain sensing windshield wipers that automatically come on and auto adjust the speed to keep the windshield clear.
Adaptive cruise control— one of our favorite features—maybe ever—(the Mercedes-Benz name for this is Distronic cruise control) this slows your car when traffic in front of you slows and then gets you back up to the set speed when it clears. No more riding the brakes in heavy highway traffic.
Cross traffic warning and pedestrian recognition: the rear camera senses when traffic or pedestrians are about to cross your path and warns you; it also recognizes if a pedestrian is crossing your path in front of you and automatically applies the brakes.
4Matic all wheel drive: after years of driving around wondering what in the heck 4Matic is, I’ve finally learned it’s Mercedes-Benz’s all wheel drive system that senses where traction is needed and applies it, assessing each wheel independently. You may not really notice it under normal driving conditions, though when you hit the gas, such as accelerating onto the highway, it gives you an enhanced sense of being in control. In wet, icy or slick conditions, the system helps to keep all four wheels in control.
Head Up Display is one of the coolest features in luxury cars, and a great one: key information, such as the speed you’re going, is beamed onto the windshield right in the driver’s line of sight, reducing the time you need to glance away from the road to make sure you’re not going to get a ticket.
Mbrace, the Mercedes-Benz mobile app system allows users to manage car settings from a phone or desktop computer, load apps such as Yelp and Facebook into the car’s infotainment system, set ‘geo-fencing’ zones so an alert is sent if a driver takes the car out of a designated area or exceeds a set speed limit, and will provide roadside or emergency assistance if the car has a flat tire or an accident.
There’s an old adage when it comes to luxury: Buy smart, buy to last and buy to love. Luxury should be an investment of not just your money, but also your time and intelligence; those Louboutin pumps will be classic for many seasons and wearable for hours on end; your handbag isn’t just an accessory, it’s a part of your life. And your car should continue to make your life
What We Loved
- The panoramic sun roof (worth EVERY PENNY of the $1480 additional charge)
- A luxuriously quiet ride
- Beautiful interior details
- Heads up display
- A macho drive experience—hit the gas and this car goes
- S-Class amenities and an AMG look and feel, all at a C-Class size and price
- Smallish size makes the car easy to maneuver, yet the cabin is roomy
- Ample trunk space
- Beautiful in-car technology with mouse and rotary dial controls
- Keyless push-button starter
What You Need to Know
- Premium fuel recommended
- 21MPG city/29MPG highway (we averaged about 23MPG)
- Starting price about $49,000; price of the model we tested, about $62,000
- 4 year/50,000 mile warranty with extended warranty option
- 3 year 24/7 roadside assistance package included
- Prepaid maintenance option for up to four years
- Comes outfitted with run flat tires
Disclosure: Mercedes-Benz provided the C400 for my test-drive; opinions expressed here are all my own.