In a Class by Itself - test driving the ethanol-ready Mercedes C-class

I attended the Mercedes-Benz 2008 C Class event here in New Jersey on Saturday. Under rainy and wet conditions I drove a C350 Automatic on both the street and on a closed course where I was "aggressive." The C-Class is not small in either weight or size but it is what they say it is - state-of-the-art technology, responsive, comfortable, and good looking. Like the Bimmers, the car has a short front overhang. Pick any combination of three letters you can think of and this Mercedes has a computer controlled program with those initials on this car. Brakes, engine, steering on the closed course were a real pleasure. I wish I had gone back for extra laps.

Confirming Sebastian's recent post, all C300 models are E85 compatible. I checked this with Russ Marchand, spokesman, and Ritz Clinging, product specialist. Asking the usual "green" questions, I found out that:
  • The C class is built in Bremen, Germany in an existing plant. The plant is considered "partially green" with modern recycling of materials and energy use.
  • The new C class is larger and heavier (3560 lbs, 1618 kg) than the prior model.
  • Fuel use for the C300 is given as 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway. I was not able to confirm that these are 2008 EPA numbers but I expect they are as these are 2008 models.
  • Sadly, Mercedes has not announced when a diesel engine C class would be arriving in the US.
  • All C300s can use E85 but 87 Octane gasoline should NOT be used except when premium or E85 are not available. This goes to the fact that E85 and premium gasoline (91 octane or higher) are what the C class is designed to use.
  • The Owner's manual recommends using E85 when temperature is above 14 degrees F (-10 degrees C) because of starting concerns. Further, and surprisingly, the owner's manual says not to switch back and forth between the two fuels. Why? So as not to confuse the computer.
The only other sedan among the 31 E85 compatible vehicles listed is the Chevy Impala. The basic C300 comes with 228 HP and a 6 speed manual transmission and lists for under $32,000. The C300 will be available nationwide. Don't be surprised if you see a lot of them in the Farm Belt.

Share This Photo X