This is the new Mercedes C-class that goes on sale in spring, 2014. With a full reveal in the metal at the Detroit show in January, the C-class is Mercedes’ biggest selling car, so an all-new model has to be good – or else.
Everything. For once, a car company is saying it’s a revolution not simply evolution, and we’d agree. The new C-class – codenamed W205 – sports S-class style lights front and rear, larger grille and a mix of A- and S-class lines. While it may not be as elegant as the outgoing car, on paper the C-class has upped its game impressively.
Based on the new MRA modular architecture, the C-class’s body is now 50% aluminium and 70kg lighter, and combined with aluminum suspension body panels (including the roof), contributes to an overall weight reduction of 100kg. That’s despite the saloon growing in size for the longest wheelbase in its class – 2840mm, an increase of 80mm – to be 95mm longer and 40mm wider than its predecessor. The weight reduction will also help all-wheel drive models, which will be offered in both right-hand and left-hand drive versions, unlike big-brother E-class, which only offers the system in left-hook models.
It can also vary its ride height as the first in it segment to offer self-levelling air-suspension (branded AIRMATIC), with four stock settings – Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus – as well as a tunable ‘Individual’ (hear that before, Audi owners?) mode.
What about inside?
If you’re not sure about the exterior styling, the cabin will convince you. It’s clearly ahead of the (admittedly about to be replaced) Audi A4’s well-built interior, and puts the 3-series’ to shame. The design of the roomer cabin is matched by the impressive fit and finish, with the litany of buttons – including that old-fashioned number pad – binned for a more elegant, simplistic design.
The centerpiece is the new COMAND controller, which is set to proliferate across all Mercedes models. Not only does the quality finished, high-gloss centrepiece look exquisite, it’s more glamorous than the Audi touchpad and streets ahead of the shiny, cheap looking spinner on the BMW 3-series. It also gives access chassis settings if you go for the air suspension over the standard steel springs.
>> For more on the C-class’s interior, click here
Like BMW, the centre display isn’t integrated into the dash, with the standard full-colour 7.0in version on top of the centre stack, or larger 8.4in screen in its place if the optional COMAND Online option box is ticked. Its graphics are super clean and clear, and they include full internet and WLAN capability, as all C-class models will have Bluetooth as standard.
The screen also provides a field of vision for the 360-degree camera, which works in tandem with the new Parking Assist. The system now has the ability to automatically park end-on as well as parallel parking, while showing a graphic looking down on the C-class while it parks. Also intended to keep your eyes on the road is the optional Head-up display – something that the 3-series already has – that similarly shows speed, warning messages and sat-nav directions.
What about engines?
At launch, three models will be available, kicked off by the C180. It’s powered by a new 156bhp 1.6-litre petrol four-cylinder, which sits below the 1.9-litre in the C220 BlueTec with its 184bhp. The third will be the C220, with its 170bhp 2.1-litre turbodiesel and meaty 295lb ft of torque. While providing no actual figures, Mercedes claims fuel consumption improvements of up to 20 per cent, and that there’ll be a choice of six-speed manual and seven-speed automatic transmissions. Later, a new nine-speed auto will join the line-up, as will a supercharged common-rail injection 1.6-litre diesel in 115bhp/280Nm and 136bhp/320Nm forms and a 204bhp 2.2-litre diesel.
Is there a hybrid?
Two hybrid models have been mooted: Mercedes has confirmed one (so far). The C300 BlueTec Hybrid will add 27bhp electric motor to the 204bhp 2.2-litre, for a claimed 72.4mpg.
What’s happening to the AMG version?
Officially, there’s no word on the new C63 AMG, but we know it will have 462bhp and will be use a smaller 4.0-litre V8 in place of the current 451bhp 6208cc naturally-aspirated V8. That should give the 425bhp BMW M3 a run for its money…
And safety kit?
Where do we start: the C-class almost (almost) drives itself. There’s a full gamut of driver aids, including Collision Prevention Assist Plus which can auto brake the Merc at speed of up to 125mph. Combine this with Distronic Plus, Steering Assist and Stop Go Pilot, and the C-class will stay in its lane, come to a complete stop in traffic, and pick up where it left off. Autonomy is so, so close…
How much is it?
The C200 petrol is the cheapest C-class: with a six-speed manual, it costs £26,855. Want a seven-speed dual-clutch 'box? You'll pay a total of £28,355. At launch, the only other engine option is the C220 diesel, which starts at £29,365.