It ain’t easy being the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Up until now, the compact luxury sedan has had a tough job description: offer sufficient driving dynamics to allow it to compete with the lauded BMW 3 Series, while also serving as the lowest cost of entry into the coveted Mercedes-Benz portfolio. Daimler has had to make it good enough to steal people away from BMW, Audi, Cadillac, Infiniti and Lexus, yet make it affordable and reasonable enough to win over first-time luxury shoppers. Talk about a tall order.
But now Mercedes has the CLA-Class – a slick little front-drive sedan that creates a new bottom end for the brand here in the United States, effectively taking those entry-level duties off of the C-Class’ plate. It’s clearly working – as of this writing, Mercedes-Benz executives say the company has but a nine-day supply of CLAs and it recently had to add a third shift at its factory in order to keep up with demand. So with fewer needs to fill, where does the C-Class go from here?
There’s only one direction to go: Up. Autoblog contributor and Man About Town Jonathon Ramsey got an early taste of the C-Class in European spec this year, and to say he walked away impressed wouldn’t do his First Drive justice. According to his initial drive report, the C-Class has transformed from a formidable German competitor in a fierce segment into a true juggernaut that makes a convincing bid for the company’s “The Best or Nothing” tagline. That heady praise in mind, I naturally jumped at the chance to put the new US-market C through its paces on American soil.