January 3, 2014
Mazdaspeed 6. Click image to enlarge
Article by Justin Pritchard
Winter is a cold, miserable, grey, depressing and terrible season that makes thousands of Canadians pack up, head south, and avoid our nasty climate until springtime re-arrives.
Driving in winter can be depressing, too. Slipping, sliding, salt spray and reduced hours of daylight can all wear away at the confidence and well-being of drivers. Ditto getting stuck, having to refuel in a blizzard, or that sharp stab of cold that results when careless tucking-in of one’s shirt causes ice cold leather touching the bare skin near your butt as you take a seat.
Difficulty starting on cold mornings, scraping pesky ice from your ride, and the fact that you’ll likely freeze your tootsies until you’re a block away from work on your morning commute don’t help either.
What you need, my fellow Canuck, is a winter-busting ride. Thankfully the used marketplace is full of affordable options for the above – many of them for less money than you think.
Listen closely. Hear that? It’s the sound of a high-output engine driving all four wheels while you powerslide through conditions that leave lesser rides stuck. And it’s closer than you think.
Here’s a look at some fantastic sports sedans that can help turn your yucky wintertime commute into one of the most entertaining drives of the year.
Criteria to make this list of winter-ready rocket-sleds is simple: all sedans listed below can be bought for less than $30,000, combine AWD with a powerful engine, and will have you finding excuses to hit the road next time the weather man says you probably shouldn’t.
2007 to 2014 Mercedes C350 4Matic
Mercedes-Benz C350 4Matic. Click image to enlarge
The Draw: Mercedes’s sleek and sexy C350 4Matic bolted up a punchy V6 engine with proven 4Matic AWD technology and a laundry list of premium amenities to let drivers tackle winter driving with comfort and style. With no less than 268 horsepower and automatic transmissions all around, this stately sleeper sedan should prove winter-ready for any driver after performance and luxury. Owners report stable handling, an opulent cabin, a great up-level stereo system and even good fuel mileage – especially with the seven-speed automatic that was added mid-cycle. Look for a wide range of safety, multimedia connectivity and customization options on the used model you’re considering. Note that the 4Matic designation in used vehicle listings is Mercedes-speak for All Wheel Drive.
The Checks: Start your test-drive noting the condition of the C350’s tires and brakes. Some owners have reported premature wear of these components. A squeaking noise from the braking system could indicate worn out pads, or just be the result of a somewhat common brake-pad materials issue. Ask a mechanic for help if you’re unsure.
Hard shifting or check-engine lights are likely caused by faulty sensors, and test-drivers are advised to be sure they confirm proper operation from the stereo system and Bluetooth system. Though largely inconsequential, some owners have reported issues with the newer seven-speed automatic transmission – meaning that the older, proven five-speed unit may be a better choice.
Have a mechanic look for fluid leaks, and ensure all engine oil an differential oil changes are up to date. If you’re unclear on where the C350 4Matic sits within its maintenance schedule, budget for a full fluid change and tune-up.