Is there a shade of leather more alluring than red? Prince might argue for purple, but that seems as passe as tie-dyed shirts.
Red is the color of ambition, of aggression, of temptation. It’s bound to coat the exterior of the midlife-crisis sports car, but bank on that cabin to be black.
A crimson interior requires a real commitment, because there are only so many complementary exterior shades.
In a car like the all-new Mercedes C-Class, the Diamond White Metallic sheet metal is the predictable, safe bet, but the soft, quilted scarlet leather that appears once the door opens serves as an invitation as irresistible as the siren’s song. The first-time visitor immediately needs to run fingers over the seats and pillowy door trim for tactile confirmation.
The C400 marks a second straight Mercedes win for a Ward’s 10 Best Interiors trophy, following last year’s breathtaking flagship S-Class sedan.
This year, we evaluated the new S-Class coupe, but we find the new C-Class, stickering at less than half the price, to be a consummate bargain (well-equipped for $65,000). Plus, it carries over many of the advanced technologies that distinguish the S-Class, particularly the innovative interface and mood-specific ambient lighting.
Before the arrival of the B-Class, CLA and GLA, the C-Class represented the entry point for the tri-star brand. But proliferation at the lower tiers has resulted in Stuttgart slathering product-development magic on the all-new C in taking it clearly upmarket.
Value is one of eight criteria judges consider in selecting the Ward’s 10 Best Interiors. But it’s worth noting the base price for our test vehicle, with 4Matic all-wheel drive and a 329-hp twin-turbo V-6, is a nominal $48,590, which includes a premium sound system, Bluetooth connectivity and tons of other electronic features.
The $16,410 in optional equipment includes a panoramic sunroof, ventilated seats and high-resolution color display. But here’s the best part: The Sport Package red and black leather, as well as the stunning matte-finish Black Ash Open Pore Wood, are standard and require no additional outlay.
Not to be overlooked is the gloriously integrated brushed-aluminum trim applied throughout the cabin. A particularly fetching piece of curved metal runs the length of the instrument panel and absorbs light like an icy pond on a sunny day. Passengers may find themselves peering into it in search of inner meaning.
“This is as a Mercedes should be, whether an S-Class or a C-Class,” Editor James Amend writes on his score sheet. “First-rate wood and metallic accents, all elegantly combined.”
Also worth noting is the excellent fit-and-finish for the C-Class, built now in the U.S. at Mercedes’ plant in Tuscaloosa, AL.
There’s a timeless beauty to the C-Class interior in any color, but a consumer who goes all-in with red needs to stand fast when quizzed by friends about the choice.
Just tell them the devil made you do it.