Before the swoopy Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class came along, the German brand’s most accessible model was the C-Class. If somewhat uncharismatic entry-level luxury sedan, but when the CLA’s $29,900 starting price undercut the C, the new kid on the block allowed room for the all-new 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class to develop-both literally and figuratively, it absolutely was a solid. Grow it did, in spades: not only does the latest C possess a bigger footprint, it also moves upscale with additional sensual sheetmetal and a swanky interior that seems inherited from its high-priced sibling, the überluxurious S-Class.
We’re expecting the new model lineup to start within the high $30,000 range, a bump up from its previous entry point of $35,800, even though C-Class’s official MSRP has yet to get announced.
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Two Driving Flavors… So, far
The C300 4Matic and C400 4Matic all-wheel drive models will hit showrooms in September, 2014, while a rear-wheel drive C300 model will follow inside the first quarter of 2015. The inevitable AMG variant will arrive with aggressive bodywork, significantly more power, and tighter suspension, as with almost all Mercedes-Benz models. Expect a coupe version down the line, at the same time.
The C300 4Matic is powered with a turbocharged 2.-liter four-cylinder producing 241 horsepower and 272 lb-ft of torque, which is good for a to 62 mph sprint in under 6.6 seconds. Motivating the C400 4Matic is a turbocharged 3.-liter V6 with 329 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque. While the 4-cylinder is plenty grunty, the larger engine’s robust torque and dear sounding intake resonances make it addictively likely and quick worthy of the added premium. Both models get a 7G-Tronic transmission, though the gearbox seemed to shift more smoothly in the C400 version than it did in the Euro-spec, rear-wheel drive C300 model. Steering also differed between the two, with all the all-wheel drive C400 feeling slightly less connected to the road than the C300, likely on account of repositioned steering geometry which accommodates the all-wheel drive system.
Better Living Through Aluminum (and Air)
The C-Class advantages of an all-new aluminum chassis, which expands its proportions by 3.7 inches in length and 1.6 inches in width while jettisoning as much as 220 pounds of mass. Even better: the latest models boast up to 20 percent better fuel economy due to lightweight construction and strategic use of ultra high-strength steel.
Available on the latest model the first time is an Airmatic air suspension system, which may be set to “Comfort,” “Eco,” “Sport,” and “Sport “-settings which also control throttleresponse and transmission, and steering effort calibration, and can also be adjusted separately in “Individual” mode. While we certainly noticed an improvement between modes, the “Sport ” end of your spectrum didn’t feel as edgy as, say, Porsche’s version of Sport . The runflat tires seem to work against the suspension, transmitting more shock for the cabin than we would like, though the suspension generally offers decent body control as well as a fair level of variability within modes.
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Trickle Down Luxury… and a Healthy Dose of Technology
Mercedes-Benz’s all-new C-Class feels more premium than its predecessor not only because of its more fluid styling and upscale interior finishes (which include available open-pore wood, and nary a hint of the hard plastic that lurks in certain corners in the CLA), but in addition thanks to engineering borrowed in the big S-Class sedan. Take, for instance, the newest 4-link front axle design, which enables greater isolation from intrusive bumping forces.
While gaining available tech features like a touchpad just in front of the Comand control wheel which can be used to navigate and “draw entries”, the cabin also feels more posh and mature than before. One of Apple’s first implementations of CarPlay is optional, as well as a head-up display which projects nav and speed info onto the windshield. Active lane keeping assist also takes the C-Class a stride closer toward the road to autonomous driving, and you can be kept company by the optional Burmester surround sound system, which fills the cabin with full, rich sound. Though it doesn’t quite provide you with the full gravitas of the bigger and fancier S-Class, the 2015 C-Class proves that Mercedes-Benz made a great progress way in the entry-level luxury war, and will likely make an impression on a new list of buyers seeking entrée into this accessible arena.