We could spend this entire article disputing the merits of the so-called entry-luxury automobile, an automotive category that was effectively created by the Mercedes-Benz C-class and its predecessor, the 190-series, beginning nearly twenty years ago. We could practically write a doctoral dissertation on Mercedes-Benz's marketplace role over the past decade, how it has influenced and been influenced by Lexus and other competitors, for better and for worse; how it has traded prestige for profit; and, most important, how the ever-expanding, ever-more-accessible C-class family figures into the company's newfound role as Everyman's luxury-car maker. We could even ponder whether the C-class is an entry-luxury automobile, with an as-tested price of $41,000; there's nothing entry about forty large. But instead, we will tell you that we had a pretty good year with our 2001 C320. Not four scintillating seasons but a rewarding twelve months nonetheless.
The C320 felt like a genuine Mercedes-Benz, or at least how our collective memory told us driving a Mercedes-Benz should feel: The adjective solid appeared often in logbook impressions. Our test car had the $2950 sport package (firmer springs and dampers, bigger anti-roll bars, lower-profile tires) and the optional 215-horsepower, 3.2-liter V-6.... Read full article