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Auto blogWed, 06 Mar 2013 12:00:00 EST
Mercedes Makes A Mighty Little Sedan
We got overexcited when the W203 Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan came out in 2001, calling it the "Baby Benz" when it really wasn't. We knew that, too, but our enthusiasm for a model more like the old 190 of the '80s was so strong that we were willing to stretch the first-gen C-Class to fit that mold. Today, the C-Class has done what all German premium cars do: grown in size. In this case, grown to satisfy the market intentions of the previous E-Class.
There was the tall A-Class sold from 1998 through 2010, but we never considered that a serious small Benz in the proper spirit, nor was it ever offered in the US. Regardless, we've been craving a smaller, premium, sexy sedan all the while.
When people ask us what car we would recommend for them, it's usually not easy to answer. To make a useful recommendation we must consider which of the numerous vehicle segments fits their needs best, and then choose one of the many vehicles offered in each segment. For some people, new cars don't meet their expectations of value, because they lose so much of it the moment they are purchased and driven off the dealer lot. For them, there's always the used-car market, where great deals can be found, but cars' histories of reliability and maintenance records - and perhaps that Certified Pre-Owned warranty - become ever-important factors playing into purchase choice.
To help out, Edmunds has done us the favor of assembling a list of the best used vehicles money can buy, covering model years 2006-2011, according to what it considers the most important criteria when shopping for used autos: reliability, safety, value and availability. That means unreliable, unsafe, super-expensive or limited-edition models don't appear on the list, but instead cars from each segment that are more likely to satisfy the general population.
There are some real goodies on the list, including but not limited to vehicles such as the capable Honda Fit, the cultish Honda Accord coupe (which can be had with a 240-horsepower V6 and a six-speed manual transmission some years), and the powerful Chevrolet Corvette. While Edmunds' choice of the Volvo C70 for best used convertible baffled us at first (not that it's a bad car), it redeemed itself by stating that the Mazda MX-5 still is an unofficial top choice if you don't require more than two seats.
Last we heard, the Mercedes-Benz SLC had been put on indefinite hold, but now Car Magazine is reporting that the Porsche 911-fighting "Baby SLS" coupe could be on sale by 2015. Riding on a modified SLS AMG chassis, the smaller and lighter SLC could be priced in the sub-$100,000 price bracket.
We'd already heard that the new car would feature conventional doors (instead of SLS-like gullwing doors), but this report focuses on some of the possible powertrains Mercedes-Benz is likely to use. At launch, the SLC could offer a pair of V8-powered models - a 485-horsepower SLC and a 585-hp SLC S - both being powered by a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8. About a year after launch, a new V6 model could emerge giving the SLC an estimated 333 horsepower and its lowest price point.
It also sounds like the car's name hasn't been completely finalized as some people within Mercedes are favoring a return of the SLR name.