Maybe this would have been a good weekend to test a Land Rover. I’m staring at a grille-high wall of snow, plowed overnight across the end of the icy Adirondack driveway. On the other side is a snowy country lane, and maybe oncoming traffic—I can only see straight ahead because of the mountainous snowdrifts piled on all sides. I’m pretty sure the locals are breaking out the snowmobiles today. I try the safe, slow approach and end up stuck atop an icy little barrier. Fortunately, this 2008 Mercedes C300 sport sedan, which I’m driving for my weekend in the country, crawls out easily in reverse. After confirming that I can ram out into the road without hitting anything, I get a running start, plow through the snowdrift, turn hard to the left and brake, skidding onto the road; I can feel the gentle percussion of the antilock brakes as we glide to a soft, abrupt stop.
On dry pavement, the C300, outfitted with the sport suspension and braking system, is a surprisingly nimble city car and a pleasant highway cruiser. Its 3.0-liter DOHC V-6, mated to a seven-speed automatic, is plenty powerful on the highway, if a little slow off the line. (I suspect the six-speed manual transmission, available on the sport sedan, solves the acceleration issue.)
In the plush, roomy cockpit, made far sunnier than my apartment by the optional panorama sunroof, the four-hour drive to upstate New York felt like a joyride. Visibility is excellent all around—a key virtue for dealing with the New York City traffic that hit us in the beginning of this trip. And the optional front seat heaters proved a lifesaver during the brutal late-February cold snap.
There are quirks. Windshield wiper controls are in the same place as the turn signal, so several times I accidentally triggered a single wipe of the windshield when signaling. While I like the sleek, dynamic AMG-inspired exterior styling, some people hate the Mercedes star embedded in the grille. But these are minor complaints.single page
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.