Car News: Oversteer
Was This Gas-Powered Mercedes Accidentally Badged As a Diesel?
I recently had the most amazing conversation on Twitter with a reader named Jack. Jack tweeted me a few days ago, and he let me know that he had rented something rather unusual in the Washington, D.C., area: A Mercedes-Benz GLC300 from Hertz that was badged as a GLC350d.
Now, at first glance, this might seem like a fairly trivial thing, except for two rather major issues. The first is obvious: This is a gasoline-powered car driving around with badges from a diesel-powered car. Not only that, but it's a rental car, which means that someone, somewhere down the line, will undoubtedly put in the wrong kind of fuel.
But perhaps the bigger issue here is that this could happen at all. Presumably, Mercedes-Benz has tons upon tons upon tons of quality checks, which weed out even minor issues like frayed edges of the stitching on the steering wheel. How could it be possible, then, that a car could be manufactured, distributed and sold ... with the entirely wrong badging? And not just slightly the wrong badging: the GLC350d model isn't even offered in the United States, so the factory that built this car got the wrong badgingand the wrong market.
Of course, there are a few more sinister explanations possible here. One is that a previous renter -- or even Jack himself -- swapped out the badges. But I think it's unlikely. I ran the Carfax report based on the VIN Jack provided, and it's only been on the road four weeks -- hardly time for some random renter to order a "5" and a "d" badge and replace the emblems on the tailgate, just to play the world's subtlest, most frivolous joke that might never even be discovered. Plus, the badging lines up perfectly, as if it was originally applied by the factory template that ensures each individual character is accurately placed.
Interestingly, this isn't the first time something like this has ever happened. In fact, my favorite occurrence of a factory screw-up was the time someone bought a Jeep Wrangler with mismatched fenders -- one white, and one black. But this is still a fairly interesting issue that merits, at the very least, an eyebrow raise in the German factory that produces the GLC.
Jack says he returned the car to the Hertz location at D.C.'s National Airport, and the rental employees were concerned -- enough to offer him a $25 voucher toward a future rental. But I'm wondering: Are there more of these phantom GLC350d units driving around out there?
Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.