Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Finally... A Worthy BMW Competitor

I’ve been praising Bimmers for some time, and rightfully so.  In my opinion, there are no cars out there that give you as much as a BMW does for your money… the driving dynamics, the power, handling, looks, name brand, build quality, and overall sexiness.  Others have tried… the Infiniti G37 comes close, the Audi A4/S4 are excellent cars but still do not quite match up to comparable BMW models (i.e. the 3 series and M3).  Mercedes tried with the C-Class C350 but still did not hit the mark.  But wait… there is another C-Class that I believe is closer to being a BMW competitor than anyone else in the past.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a 2012 C250 Sport from eCarOne for a full week.  Wait a minute… C250?  Come on… that’s weak!  No my friends, it’s anything but weak.  The 2012 C250 does come with a 2.5L 4-cylinder, however it’s turbocharged and intercooled so it’s no slouch.  The car bone stock makes 200 HP and a hefty 220 ft-lbs of torque.  Notice I said bone stock… this is because if you know much about turbocharged cars, you’d know that there are numerous aftermarket vendors that offer software upgrades that are safe and very effective.  With a turbocharged car, you can simply re-flash the ECU (i.e. software upgrade) and gain at least 15% to 30% more power and torque without doing anything else.  The upgrade is relatively inexpensive and can be done in your garage in a matter of an hour.  For example, a company called Burger Motorsports offers an upgrade for the C250 software under $1,000 that results in a 30HP increase and a whopping 60 ft-lbs of torque increase.  With this upgrade, the C250 will blow away a BMW 328i, an Audi A4, and an Infiniti G37; and may even compete with a stock S4 or 335i.

But that’s all just fun… let’s get down to business.

What is it about the C250 that made me pay attention?  Well, first off, and as silly as it sounds, the steering wheel is quite possibly the best steering wheel I’ve ever put my hands on (well, besides that on the F430 Ferrari).  It’s thick, sporty and has a flat bottom… it makes you feel that this car means business and it certainly got my attention.

The fit and finish is superb. The car is solid and no matter what I drove over, I did not hear one peep out of the chassis.  It certainly did not feel like an “entry-level” car; more like an S-Class after three months of P90X.  The suspension, tires, engine, and transmission are really well-mated to each other because for as long as I remember, I did not feel this well connected to a car since my ’07 335i coupe that I had a few years ago.  I was looking for excuses to drive this little Benz and it was fun each and every time.

What about value?  Well, let’s see…. This 2012 C250 Sport at eCarOne is fairly well-equipped with NAV, Bluetooth, SAT Radio, etc and it had only 10,000 miles on the odometer.   Brand new, this car retails for roughly $45,000 and eCarOne has it listed at about $35,000.  Normally, you’d expect a deeper discount for a pre-owned Mercedes but it’s still a current year model so it’s priced accordingly.  Nevertheless, that price is still very attractive.  So, I can pick it up for $35,000 and add the software upgrade for $1,000 and I’m all in for $36k with roughly 230 HP and 280 ft-lbs of torque in this little economical 4-cylinder sedan.   For that money, you can pick up a used Subaru WRX or a used Mitsubishi Lancer EVO but you will not have the fit, finish, and refinement of this car… not even close.  If I was in the market for a fun sports sedan, I would definitely give this one a test drive.

Thanks for reading.

No comments:

Post a Comment