For most luxury brands, the best-selling model is also the least expensive model. That’s because many car buyers aspire to own a luxury car, and as soon as they can swing the monthly payment on an Audi A4, a BMW 3 Series, a Cadillac ATS, an Infiniti G, a Lexus IS, or this, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, they jettison the decade-old Accord and accept the keys to a luxury-branded car.
I qualify my description as “luxury-branded” because the base versions of these models, the ones touted as lease specials, the ones that grab aspirational buyers with low payments, because they aren’t really luxury cars in the way luxury cars are traditionally defined. Yes, they have more stuff. Yes, they have better engineering. Yes, they have luxury badges. But they’re not a luxury car anymore than a loaded Ford Fusion Titanium with all the option boxes checked is a luxury car.
That’s true in the traditional sense, anyway. Take the badges off of any of these entry-luxury cars and line them up with an unbadged Fusion, and my bet is most car buyers would call the Fusion the luxury car. Especially with that Aston Martin grille, which brings me full circle to this, the 2013 Mercedes-Benz C-Class and its giant three-pointed star embedded in its grille like a thick gold medallion resting in a nest of chest hair.
Given that this emblem has for decades reflected the pinnacle of success and wealth rendered in metal, glass, rubber, and oil, you’d think the C-Class would be the best-selling luxury car in America. It’s not. Last year, BMW brokered deals on nearly 100,000 3 Series models, and Lexus peddled more than 95,000 RX SUVs. By comparison, Mercedes moved nearly 82,000 C-Class models, making it the third best-selling luxury car in 2012, and the 63rd best-selling car in the country.
So much for exclusivity.
Though the current version of the C-Class is nearing the end of its lifespan, we figured it would be a good idea to see if there’s a compelling reason to buy one, aside from the fact that it’s a Mercedes.