It’s no accident that the new Mercedes C-class looks like a shrunken S-class. The new BMW 3-series rivalling saloon, which arrives in early 2014, owes more than a few styling cues to its flagship stablemate.
Let’s kick off inside the C-class, which is so much better resolved than the outgoing car’s interior, it’s like being upgraded from cattle-cart Ryan Air to business class British Airways. Round vents and slimline ventilation control buttons are clearly inspired by the new S-class’s cabin, but there are new touches here that even the big best Benz missed out on. That arcing slab of central trim is one of them, single-handedly making the current F30-gen 3-series’ dour dash look old-hat.
>> Click here for CAR’s full first official pictures look at the new Mercedes C-class
Then there’s the new centre touchscreen controller, which allows the driver to control the infotainment screen, phone connectivity, and even ride comfort settings if the new air suspension system is specced.
The futuristic looking handrest-cum-finger canvas, which uses haptic feedback to encourage eye-free operation, was in development for the S-class, but wasn’t ready in time. It’ll be fitted to all new S-classes as of February 2014. Meanwhile, all C-class-kind get the natty centrepiece from launch. Take that, limo drivers!
>> Click here to read CAR’s first drive review of the new Mercedes S-class
Where the C-class does miss out is in display digitisation – it sticks with good old-fashioned dials rather than an adaptive display, a la S-class, or Range Rover. Mercedes blames the cost of such a screen for its absence from the £23,000-£56,000 C-class, but given how far the car’s spacious, well-finished cabin has come, that’s an acceptable trade-off. The new Audi A4 is going to have to muster the very best of Audi’s interior design to match it.
>> Click here to read the previous Most Wanted car of 2014
On the outside, the new C-class is much less radical – the blocky light clusters are clearly S-class inspired, but the visual aggression can be turned up with the AMG Sport bodykit, which previews the new performance range-topper. Boasting a 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8, it might look limp-wristed next to the outgoing 6.2-litre C63, but it’ll be ever faster. The new C-class is 100kg lighter than before, and with the new C63 developing a Titanic 462bhp, it might just blow away its 450bhp predecessor, never mind the 424bhp BMW M3 and M4 twins…