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06/07/2004 RUN SPOT, RUN

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sun, Jun 27, 2004

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

RUN SPOT, RUN

By JOHN GRAFMAN

Like a Hollywood movie, the 2004 Mercedes Benz C Spot Tour is being hyped months in advance. Once released, we sadly find far too many movies to be all bark and no bite. If you hear any howling at this event, though, it is more than likely the tires crying for sympathy. Mercedes is dedicating an entire tour to show off its complete line of C Class automobiles. The anticipation starts to gather steam once the invite arrives in the mail, with the C Spot Drive Party Tour badges. Under a small circus-size tent, the presentation adds to the excitement. The surroundings and tasty treats add a touch of upscale elegance - i.e., even though the car being highlighted is a C Class, it nevertheless is still part of the Mercedes Benz family of cars. Unfortunately, with one too many commercial sponsors, I feel not unlike a captive at a movie theater sitting through endless trailers, patiently awaiting the actual goods.

When the attendees are given the "all clear" the torrent of bodies are reminiscent of the last day of school at Junior High. Even if everyone isn't dashing for the door, I myself make a beeline towards one of the two tracks that they establish. Track one has a drive-it-yourself venue, while the other track has Mercedes Professional drivers taking us through the coned layout in the AMG hopped up C32. Figuring I want the seat time first, I make haste to get in the row of eagerly awaiting drivers for the C320 Sports Coupe. Big mistake on my part. As I find out later, by the limited number of these models on the track (one to be exact) I inadvertently step into the line from hell. Now I am a veteran of Disneyland, the DMV and even Magic Mountain in the summertime, yet this one line takes the award for "most time spent in a line." I kid you not, the elapsed time is nearly an hour. Nothing is worth that wait... well almost nothing.

The time spent actually traversing the course does feel like nothing, however. I can't imagine that a wait like that can be for a track distance so abbreviated. I am all but ready to leave in disgust when by chance I run into a few friends who coincidentally are in the group just after mine (a full hour later). Typical. Get a few guys behind the wheel of some cars, and there goes a few hours in a puff of smoking tires. After the initial grumbling abates, the focus is on the cars. The conclusion is fairly unanimous: If you can get by with less space than afforded by the E Class, the C is a fine alternative. From the coupes, to the sedan, and finally the wagons, all of them are quite competent through the coned curves and straights. The time behind the wheel, for better or worse, is the automotive equivalent of a movie preview. There is only enough time to have a brief encounter and get all riled-up for the chance to spend some quality time with the Germans. The updates to the styling are welcome, with the exception of the plastic pieces in place of the patterned metal in the center console for the C Class coupe. Also, the clear plastic over the radio readout has a tendency to become illegible with the sun glare. Mind you, we are in the car for just some extended moments, but this is what we zero in on.

The demo by the pros in the C32 from AMG is beyond transportation and falls into the realm of entertainment. Even when loaded with four guys, the smallish sedan with big horsepower leaves all with a smile on our faces. Judging from the others who brave the line for this, we aren't the only ones impressed by this ride. As fast as this car is, it makes short work of the extensive course. As the C Class product line itself has various incarnations that are separate and distinct, it's unfair for us to lump them all together in one opinion. From Mercedes' standpoint, this is a great opportunity to get buyers of like-minded wallets together to sample their most affordable machines. In particular, it's hard not to notice the latest deals on the new C Sport Sedans.

While the C Spot affair might only get two out of four stars in a review, the car itself just might be a summer blockbuster.

Find out more on this event at http://c-spotdriveparty.com/

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