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2017.02.11 Mercedes VS Subaru

While I wait to discuss the next chapter in Castle Steeds, it felt worthwhile to do a brief retrospective of our current stable.

2016 mercedes c300.jpg 2015 subaru imprezaj.png

For the past year (approximately) we have had two vehicles - a 2016 Mercedes C300 sedan and a 2015 Subaru Impreza 5-door. Neither of these vehicles came into the stable with much determination on my part. The Mercedes was simply the least-objectionable option as a company lease that was in our budget when I was forced to return the B-Class ELECTRIC DRIVE. The Subaru was 100% the wife's research and decision.


The Mercedes thumps the Subaru in terms of power and comfort - 241 HP to 148 HP, along with massively adjustable seats and blah blah blah. The Merc has a 7-speed automatic transmission while the Subie has a CVT. Both have active saftey goodness stopping wise. The Subaru has AWD, of course.


The Mercedes is bigger inside than the previous generation, so suits the kids seats in the back quite nicely. Other than that, it's kind of annoying to use. The roof rack from the previous generation I have sitting in the garage does not fit this generation, so I cannot mount a roof box for longer trips. The trunk is large, but no truck is truly large enough for all the stuff we seem to need to overnight anywhere near a beach.

The Subaru is big enough inside, and the hatchback gobbles up items that simply could not fit in a regular trunk. Moreover, not only does the roof box slap on easily, it actually looks kind of good on the Subaru. Almost like it's saying "ADVENTURE TIIIIIIME!" It's also been the vehicle to haul my mountain bike up to the mountain every weekend.


The local Mercedes dealerships should be openly scorned for their choice of snow-incapable tires. It's tragic, really, at how poorly the Mercedes performs in even slight dustings of snow. Undoubtedly, if I were to put proper snow shoes on it, the C-class would be a perfectly capable snow vehicle. But it's a company lease, so fuck that noise.

The Impreza is a total fucking hero in all weather.


The Mercedes is my commuter, and it does that well. Not great, but well enough. It's powerful enough to let me lunge for opportunities without having to push any boundaries, and it handles rather well in most conditions. It was miserable for lag at first, but with a custom program on the transmission it does my bidding well enough. It has been driven mercilessly through potholes with scarcely a harrumph, and has the correct teutonic sense of being perfectly safe.

I only drive the Subaru on occasions when the wife would rather be in that, or when I head out for a bike ride, or any time there's snow or ice. It's not fast. Neither is it slow. It has some significant transmission lag, but I haven't driven it enough to get good at the fake-gear paddle option.


A C-class is not who I am. That's my best guess for why the whole car annoys me so much. I've conjectured about being spoiled by the E-class, or the instant-torque of the B-class, but those seem like excuses. It's not as good a deal as the other company lease cars have been, but that's just whining - it's still a pretty good deal. It's comfortable, sporty, and reliable. It just has the minor problem of the fact that I completely fucking hate it.

And, you know, it occurs to me that maybe I hate it because of the Subaru.

The Subaru came into the stable and went about earning my affection with subtle dedication and persistent revelations of goodness. The continuously-variable transmission is not a thing that I love, but after feeling how the continuous torque could delicately dance to all wheels while flying over scary snow it was completely forgiven. What price is sublime joy when it matters as a trade for sluggishness when it's mostly inconsequential. Really, after a year with the Subaru, my only regret is that it isn't a bit more powerful. And, well, I'd still prefer a manual in it.

That's the historical truth playing out, I suppose. The Mercedes (5 of them now) have always had a certain expectation, and while they mostly achieve it there is undeniably some squinting at the ways in which they underwhelm. The Subarus (4 of them now) have mostly been good-enough class vehicles, then every single one of them earned respect well outside of their nominal class.


Subaru wins, hands down.

Doing a lot with a little is just fundamentally more rewarding than having a lot and just making do.


I'd still really like to have an E-wagon.