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Old 11-16-2000, 07:57 PM
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dtanesq dtanesq is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Northern California/Western Washington
Posts: 386

I drove a C240 (5-speed auto - dealer didn't have the 6-speed) today and was pleased and dismayed at the same time. I own a 1986 300E which recently developed the dreaded "floating rear end" problem. I had the links replaced (I talk about it a Tech Help post somewhere) and while I was at it basically rebuilt the entire suspension - struts, shocks, subframe mounts, rear links, etc. The car still wiggles a little bit, which is why it's going back to the tech with a stern look. But that's just the setup to the story.

I had expected that the new little Benz would be quicker, stiffer handling overall and quieter than my 300E. If it is any of those, I can't tell. It also gives the impression of being a monumental repair headache waiting to happen. It was not quicker. In fact, in order to get it to keep up on the freeway, I had the transmission dancing all over the place. My 300E just sort of moves, smoothly and with little drama, when I want it to move. From a handling standpoint, everything in the test drive was going along great until I drove over a section of highway notorious for setting off the wiggling in my E. Here's where the setup above comes into play. The C240 wiggled noticeably. I was shocked. For some odd reason, the salesman chose that moment to talk about the Sport option. Bad timing. In terms of reliability, maybe I'm old fashioned (or just old), but all the electronic stuff in the car makes me nervous. We won't be seeing any of these cars rumbling across the Australian wastelands after a nuclear holocaust (Mad Max reference) because they simply appear too maintenance intensive. Too complicated. Shade tree mechanics are a thing of the past with these cars.

Finally, the new C was not quieter than my 300E on the roads I drive. And my car is shod with V-speed rated tires.

All in all, I'd have to agree with the previous post. I'll stick with my 300E happily (even if I have to play with it to get the rear end perfect) over spending over $40K for a new C with the Sport Option. I commend MBZ for getting close to BMW with the handling generally, but that little bobble, the lack of real punch (I know - boy racers should opt for the bigger-engined C, but lose out on the 6-speed) and a trillion little electrical gadgets just waiting to go south keep me from going for it.

1986 300E - "Liesl"
1978 300D - "Gunther"
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