I am a Toronto realtor who is looking to purchase/lease a car within the next six to nine months and would like it to cost less than $50,000. I am considering the VW Passat. I prefer German engineering over Asian cars and have owned a Mercedes-Benz C-Class in the past (and loved it). But I am open to what’s worth looking at. American-made vehicles are not really an option. Any advice would be appreciated so that I can represent myself with class, and love my drive. – Jennifer in Toronto
Vaughan: Now hang on just a minute here Jenny: “American-made vehicles are not really an option.” You’re living in the past, my girl, and in your snack bracket there’s the all-new Caddy ATS, which is designed specifically to out-BMW BMW. It’s got “class” and you could be the first in the office to own one. Makes a good talking point for chatting up clients, too.
Cato: Whoa, Vaughan! Jenny said she’s got the Passat in her sights. Really? How is that possible? As Car and Driver argues in a recent comparison of mid-size sedans, the 2012 Passat is the best Toyota Camry that Volkswagen has ever made.
Jen, that means the Passat is not as sporty nor is it as well-furnished as your old Benz. You would certainly want the V-6 or the diesel, because the base five-cylinder is antiquated. And because you’ll be ferrying around clients, well, two points: the Passat’s back seat has oceans of room. That’s good. On the other hand, this North American Passat – made in Chattanooga, Tenn. – is not class-leading quiet.
Now to the ATS. Many think GM has finally managed to build a car capable of taking on the C-Classes and 3-Series of the world. At least go for a test drive.
Vaughan: No arguments from me. But Jen, why not give the C-Class another look? You get a lot of German-built car for the money, if the current discounted pricing holds.
And maybe you should get yours now. If the euro zone blows up and Germany goes back to the mark, these things will cost you double. Germany whines and moans about bailing out Greeks, but it has to do it to protect the cheap currency that drives German exports.
Cato: Cheap. Now there’s a concept you can embrace, Vaughan. And Jen should, too. The C-Class is certainly cheap right now. Have you noticed that Mercedes-Benz Canada has become one of the great discounters in Canada?
Case in point: the C. According to carcostcanada.com, existing B- and C-Class owners are eligible for a $4,500 “Loyalty Bonus” if they re-up with a new C-Class or GLK-Class sport-utility, and new buyers are looking at a $3,000 offer. Add in the $1,350 2012 Model Clear Out factory-to-dealer rebate, too. We’re talking about something approaching up to $6,000 in incentives on a loaded $50,800 C-350 4MATIC with all-wheel drive.
Vaughan: The C-Class fits in nicely with the image your clients no doubt expect of you, Jenny. And, as Cato points out, it’s a sweetheart of a deal.
But all the reports suggest the ATS is no featherbed; it’s more German-like in power and handling than the Germans themselves. It’s built on a new rear-drive platform named Alpha and General Motors says the ATS is lighter and therefore quicker and more nimble than the 3-Series, boasting a 3.6-litre V-6 rated at 320 hp – for $49,160.
Cato: Come on, Jen, you’re a GM investor – being a taxpayer – so why not give Caddy a shot?
Vaughan: I just don’t know how seriously you take your driving, Jenny. Cato seems to think you take it very seriously, though.
Cato: She certainly takes her cars seriously. Jen is ready to spend $50,000-something, remember. And I must say, it makes little sense to rule out $50,000-something cars from Asia. So have a look at the G37 from Infiniti. This one is coming to the end of its model run and an all-new version is expected within a few months’ time. Conclusion: you get mountains of car for the money.
Vaughan: The cars in this class from Lexus and Acura are utterly boring, but not the G. It is stylish and well mannered on the road. The more I see it, the more I like it.
Cato: We need to be completely up-front, though. The next G is going in an entirely new direction both in terms of design and performance. Infiniti might just be giving up on being known as the “Japanese BMW.” That aside, this car is a steal – Infiniti Canada has a $5,000 discount on any remaining $43,550 2012 G37 sedans with all-wheel-drive.
Vaughan: I’m leaning toward the Caddy ATS. Every real estate agents needs something to talk about to keep the conversation from getting into the outrageously high commissions they charge.
Cato: We could send you to the BMW 3-Series, but if you loved your C, then you probably don’t belong with the Bimmer crowd. Take the deal on the G. It’s not quite as fat as your last commission, but close.
HOW THEY COMPARE
2012 Mercedes-Benz C350 4MATIC
2013 Cadillac ATS 3.6L Performance
2012 Infiniti G37x
Track, front (mm)
Curb weight (kg)
Fuel economy (litres/100 km)
10.7 city/7.0 highway
11.7 city/7.8 highway
Base price (MSRP)
Source: car manufacturers
Jeremy Cato and Michael Vaughan are co-hosts of Car/Business, which airs Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. on Business News Network and Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. on CTV.
You can e-mail Cato & Vaughan here: email@example.com
Correction: Incorrect pictures of the Mercedes-Benz and Infiniti models appeared in an earlier version of this online story.