Detroit: The All New Mercedes-Benz C Class

Posted by: Shelton Kwan onJanuary 13th, 2014

As the CLA class was introduced, it created a conundrum for new prospective owners venturing into Mercedes-Benz dealerships. The gap between the entry level CLA and the current entry level C class had become quite small. This was all part of the plans at Mercedes-Benz, as they create a wider gap between the CLA and the E class, and move the new C class into a more upscale vehicle in the Mercedes-Benz lineup. The current C class is no slouch, introduced in 2007, it has sold over 2.4 million cars since its introduction, making it Mercedes-Benz’s top selling model. The W204 C class gave us the awesome C63 AMG, a car which finally gave BMW M a run for its money, and the mental C63 AMG Coupe Black Series, which showed the world that AMG cars are serious business.

With that being said, the new C class (W205) is probably the most important launch for Mercedes-Benz in the next few years, as the car has to not only keep its status as Mercedes-Benz’s bread and butter class, but also be more upscale and closer to the luxuries and refinement of the E class.

In North America, the new C class launches with 2 new models, the C300 4MATIC with a 237hp 2.0L turbocharged direct injection four cylinder, and the C400 4MATIC with a 3.0L turbocharged direct injection V6 at 331hp. The engines are mated to the tried and true 7G-TRONIC PLUS automatic transmission, as well as 4MATIC full time all-wheel drive system. Sadly, neither the rumored dual clutch transmission, nor the 9G-TRONIC 9 speed automatic transmission made the cut.

Starting with the chassis, the new C increases its wheelbase by 3 inches. In terms of body dimensions, the vehicle is 3.7 inches longer and 1.6 inches wider. This results in more leg room and headroom for the rear passengers, and also improves trunk capacity to 17 cubic feet. All new lightweight aluminum hybrid construction allows Mercedes-Benz engineers to shave 154lbs compared to similar steel construction. Compared to the outgoing C class, the W205 has lost 220 lbs, increased aluminum usage from 10% to 50%, lowered the center of gravity, while increasing stiffness and rigidity which benefits handling and reduces fuel consumption. Further improving on the C class’s efficiency is the new body’s low coefficient of drag. At 43mph, aerodynamic exceeds the sum total of all other driving resistance factors. The standard radiator style grille even closes up completely at speed to improve the vehicle’s Cd value.

On the handling side, the new C class has a completely redeveloped suspension featuring a newly designed 4-link front axle, where the front independent suspension is fully decoupled from the spring and strut. At the back, a re-optimized multi-link independent rear suspension with 5-link concept ensures rear end stability as well as excellent straight line stability. 3 suspension setups are available at launch. The standard base setup, a sport suspension package that lowers the car by 0.6 inches, and for the first time in this segment, the AIRMATIC air suspension setup lifted from the E/CLS class cars. The AIRMATIC suspension allows the driver to choose a suspension mode to fit the style, Comfort, ECO, Sport, Sport+, and Individual. With the individual setting, the system allows drivers to their vehicle according to their own needs. AIRMATIC also features self-leveling for optimum ride comfort even when the vehicle is loaded.

The new C class is loaded with Mercedes-Benz’s safety and comfort found in the S class. As with the outgoing C, ATTENTION ASSIST, which warns the driver of inattentiveness and drowsiness, comes standard. Adaptive Brake Assist and COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST PLUS predicts an accident before it happens, and applies brakes when necessary to avoid or reduce the severity of collisions with slower or stopping vehicles. The system also brakes in response to stationary vehicles at a speed of up to 31 mph, and is able to prevent rear-end collisions at speeds of up to 25 mph. New features include DISTRONIC PLUS with Steering Assist, which is a self-driving mode in rush hour that works by following the vehicle ahead at speeds under 37mph, BAS PLUS Brake Assist, which detects crossing traffic and boost the braking force if the driver fails to apply the brakes sufficiently, Enhanced Active Lane Keeping Assist which prevents the vehicle from unintentionally drifting out of lane when broken lane markings apply and a risk of a collision arises by applying the brakes on one side, and Active Parking Assist which enables automated parking with active steering and brake intervention in both parallel and end-on parking spaces.

The Mercedes-Benz designers have completely restyled the interior of the car, and is a huge departure from the outgoing C class to bring a higher level of comfort and luxury to the driver and passengers. Mercedes-Benz compares this to an upgraded from economy to business class on an airplane. A completely new center console featuring flowing lines, a large one-piece center console panel which performs an elegant sweep from the center air vents to the armrest. These seamless clear-cut lines create a sense of open space and convey a thrillingly purist and modern feel. The only detail that feels out of place is the centrally positioned free-standing central display across the center console. It looks like an iPad slapped onto the dashboard. The COMAND system is all new, featuring an innovative touchpad over the Controller above the center armrest. Much like a smartphone, this provides for very simple and intuitive operation of all the head-unit functions using finger gestures. The touchpad also permits letters, numbers and special characters to be entered in handwriting. Finally, the C class joins its competition by offering a head-up display, which displays important information directly in the driver’s field of vision on the front windscreen. The system provides information on vehicle speed, speed limits and navigation instructions and displays messages from DISTRONIC PLUS.

The new C class arrives in showrooms in the fall of 2014. We look forward to seeing what Mercedes-Benz AMG has in store for us in April when the AMG version is unveiled in New York.

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