When Mercedes-Benz dropped the news of an all-new naming convention for its lineup, we were somewhat annoyed but not entirely surprised. But when it announced it'd also be altering the actual brand name depending on the Maybach or AMG model attached to it, we were floored. As a bonus, the automaker announced an entirely new trim level with a name somewhere in between last month.
The C-Class, which won our Best of 2015 award, is a perfect example of how these changes have been implemented. There's the Mercedes-Benz C300 at the low end of the spectrum, the Mercedes-AMG C63 at the high end and the Mercedes-Benz C450 AMG Sport right in the middle.
One thing that remains the same is just how many badges each one gets. With Mercedes, the higher up the ladder you go, the more you're reminded of just how special your car is.
It's Valentine's Day, and you're looking for an automotive way to tell your significant other how you feel. We surveyed our fellow editors, all of whom are known to be world-class romantics — just ask them! — for some advice:
Cars.com just named the redesigned Mercedes-Benz C-Class our Best of 2015 car. As we've done in recent years, we purchased one to put our money where our mouth is. Naturally, the process kicked off with a familiar question: Which C-Class would we get? Among the new 2015 C-Class sedans on Cars.com, we found more than 150 examples within 50 miles of our Chicago offices. We've already driven both the C300 and C400, and we deemed the C400's extra power unnecessary versus the already-punchy C300, particularly since it starts some $10,000 higher.
We settled on the C300. Given the nature of Chicago weather, we opted for all-wheel drive, and so set our sights on a 2015 C300 4Matic sedan; that combination accounted for more than 80 percent of the 2015 C-Class sedans in dealer inventory near our offices at the time we were shopping. Including destination, the C300 4Matic starts at $41,325 but can spiral past $60,000 if you load up the options. Still, most examples on Cars.com near us were listed between $45,000 and $55,000.
We settled on a plan. We'd visit a Mercedes dealership near downtown Chicago to see what option groups were popular; then we'd email that dealership along with a few others when we had an idea of the equipment that we wanted. As always, we told salespeople we were looking to buy a company car, providing only our personal email addresses and mobile phone numbers. We revealed only after the price had been agreed to that we worked for Cars.com.
The last time we tested the C-Class in a Cars.com Challenge, the C250 fared very poorly. The judges didn’t care for the brakes, found the engine wanting and disliked the handling.
Now, with the advent of the new C-Class, our editors are impressed: "The luxury automaker has stunned the public and pundits by producing a stylish new compact luxury sedan that plays second fiddle to no one."
The C-Class edged out five worthy competitors:
Cars.com photo by Evan Sears
If you're scratching your head over the high-performance designations from certain luxury brands, Mercedes figures to become just as confusing. The brand's AMG performance badge will grace bona fide AMG cars complete with hand-built engines from Mercedes' Affalterbach plant in southern Germany. But Mercedes will also bequeath the name to AMG-light cars from its mass-market plants as "AMG Sport." You know, in case the brand's recent naming overhaul wasn't complicated enough.
The first example is the GLE-Class, a coupelike SUV similar to the BMW X6. Once production ramps up, you'll be able to buy a Mercedes-Benz GLE450 AMG Sport or, for all-out performance, a Mercedes-AMG GLE63. Mercedes also replaced the short-lived C400 sedan with the C450 AMG Sport, and it's all but inevitable that we'll see a Mercedes-AMG C63 at some point.
The AMG sub-brand was expected. We reported in November 2014 that Mercedes owner Daimler would relaunch its Maybach and AMG brands with Benz-free nomenclature — respectively, Mercedes-Maybach and Mercedes-AMG. Both initiatives have born fruit: the Mercedes-Maybach S600 sedan and Mercedes-AMG GT sports car.
The AMG multiplication came as a surprise.
The Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG certainly isn't ashamed that it's the high-performance variant of the C-Class. Racing cues abound on the luxury sedan, now making its debut at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show, from widened aluminum fenders and rear wheels to "power domes" on the hood to a trio of rear diffuser fins.
Building on the regular C-Class' standard aluminum cabin trim, the C63 AMG adds performance seats covered in faux leather and microfiber. In Edition 1 models, the seats have black Nappa leather highlighted with a diamond pattern; plus there’s red contrast stitching on the badged performance steering wheel.
Check out the gallery below; Cars.com photos by Evan Sears.
Luxury vehicles are probably as enticing to those who steal them as they are to those who buy them, but the overwhelming majority of stolen cars in the U.S. each year continue to be from nonluxury brands. A new report by the Des Plaines, Ill.,-based National Insurance Crime Bureau shows that thefts of newer luxury vehicles stolen between 2010 and 2013 totaled 5,570, a small fraction of the millions of vehicles stolen across that same four-year timeframe. In addition to being a smaller percentage of total cars on the road, NICB spokesman Frank Scafidi said the cars are just getting harder to swipe.
Related: Thieves Still Favor the Honda Accord
"The numbers show that the improved antitheft technology on these luxury vehicles has made them very difficult to steal despite being attractive targets," Scafidi told Cars.com.
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