Mercedes has officially shown the new C-class.
Mercedes-Benz has refreshed the looks, reduced weight by 100kg and plonked a more efficient engine line-up in its all-new, fourth-generation C-class saloon.
The new model has been revealed officially for the first time ahead of its public debut at the Detroit motor show in January and a planned arrival in global showrooms in June 2014.
Other features of the new W205-generation C-class include the option of air suspension (another segment first), a more agile chassis, greater use of aluminium in its structure and a whole suite of advanced driver-assistance systems shared with the soon-to-be launched new S-class saloon.
Underpinning the C-class is the new lightweight modular rear-drive MRA (Mercedes Rear-drive Architecture) platform that will underpin all core rear-drive models from the C-class and above, including saloons and SUVs.
The new C-class is 4686mm long, 1810mm wide and 1442mm high, the length and width growing by 95mm and 40mm respectively over the current car and the height reducing by 5mm. The wheelbase is up by 80mm to 2840mm.
The increase in size is to distance the new C from the carmaker's CLA four door coupe, a model that closely matches the current C-class in length.
Visually, the new C-class bears a clear family resemblance to the latest S-class and recently revised E-class, as well as the smaller A-class family. The classic rear-drive saloon proportions remain, but the Mercedes design team has reduced the overhangs, raised the beltline, narrowed the glasshouse and added sculpted, flowing lines and surfaces that taper back to give a more classic profile.
The result is a more modern-looking C-class with which the company hopes to appeal to a younger audience.
The new interior is also a lot more luxurious. Its ‘wraparound’ dashboard design is familiar to that found in the A-class and the new S-class and features three central circular air vents, greatly reduced switchgear on the centre console and improved overall fit and finish.
A free-standing screen on top of the dashboard displays key information and infotainment options and is controlled by a standard rotary controller, or an optional touchpad that mimics the controls of a touchscreen smartphone.
In the rear, the longer wheelbase provides 25mm more legroom, while the increase in overall width further boosts space. Boot capacity is up by five litres over the outgoing C-class, to 480 litres.
The structure of the new C-class is now almost 50 per cent aluminium, helping reduce overall weight. This helps reduce fuel consumption and also improves strength, ride and handling characteristics and safety.
The new C’s chassis has been tuned to offer a more sporty and agile drive without compromising ride comfort. Stiffness has been increased by around 20 per cent.
The suspension consists of a four-link set-up at the front and a five-link arrangement at the rear. A steel suspension system with selective damping is fitted as standard in three different versions, including a sports set-up lowered by 15mm in AMG Line models.
The big news, however, is the option of AirMatic air suspension, the first time it has been offered in this class. This fully adaptive, self-levelling system offers four driving modes, from Comfort to Sport+, or allows the driver to tailor his own preferences in the Individual mode. The steering set-up, meanwhile, is a speed-sensitive electro-mechanical system.
All engines in the C-class range are Euro 6 emissions compliant, come with stop-start as standard and offer up to 20 per cent better economy than the previous line-up.
The engine range at launch internationally includes a 168bhp 2.1-litre turbodiesel in the C220 Bluetec, a 154bhp 1.6 petrol in the C180 and a 181bhp 2.0-litre petrol in the C200.
A series of other engines will be rolled out internationally soon after launch, including a new 1.6-litre turbodiesel co-developed with Renault. It will be offered with power outputs of 113bhp and 134bhp. Other variants of the familiar OM651 2.1-litre turbodiesel will also follow, with power outputs ranging from 113bhp to 201bhp.
The launch petrol line-up will be expanded with further versions of the M274 engine already familiar from its transverse application in the A-class internationally. In the C-class, it will be offered with power outputs of up to 235bhp. A V6 petrol engine is also planned.
The new C-class will be offered in a C300 Bluetec Hybrid version, which mixes a 2.1-litre turbodiesel engine with an electric motor and comes with a provisional 72.4mpg claimed economy figure. Also planned from 2015 is a plug-in petrol-electric drivetrain in the C350.
Two transmissions are offered globally: a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. A nine-speed automatic has also been rumoured for introduction further down the line. Rear-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive being offered later in the year on selected C-classes for the first time.
A whole host of technologies derived from the S-class is also being offered on the C-class. These include a level of autonomous driving at low speeds and in traffic jams, along with drowsiness detection, steering assistance, lane assistance and numerous parking assistance systems.