2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class First Look
The 2015 Mercedes C-Class is a "Baby Benz" no more. That title has been handed down to the CLA-Class, which recently spearheaded the automaker's new U.S. lineup of compact cars and crossovers. That said, the C-Class will still be an important part of the family of three-pointed stars, mainly because it serves as Benz's fighter against the pesky and seemingly untouchable BMW 3 Series. Furthermore, it appears that the 2015 C-Class is gunning for a big promotion, perhaps to the title of "Baby S-Class."
Showfloor update: No more playing in the minors; the C-Class is now big league as it moves upmarket. We sat inside the new C-Class and were blown away by the interior, which was adorned with wood trim and intricate stitching on the dashboard. Those complaining that the touchscreen was just slapped onto the center stack will find that it's actually an awesome design since the screen is pretty much at eye level, meaning it'll be much easier to toggle through when you're driving. With a wheelbase that's been stretched about three inches more than the outgoing model, journalists sat comfortably inside, while playing with the new COMAND system was fairly easy to use with the standard touchpad that hovers above the knob. The new C-Class will be built in Tuscaloosa, Ala., alongside another model that Benz boss Dieter Zetsche says will be unveiled later this year, which we all know will most likely be the AMG variant.
Benz's PR material states that the new C-Class feels like an "upgrade to a higher class of travel." Indeed, the 2015 C's arsenal of improvements over its predecessor is quite impressive. It's lighter, more attractive, and packed with technology that has trickled down from Benz's flagship. Better yet, the new C-Class will debut with two new engines, both making more power than the mills found in the outgoing model.
While many of you are undoubtedly eager to learn what AMG has planned for the new C, Mercedes isn't ready to divulge those details yet. Instead, the automaker starts off with "preliminary power" specs on the all-wheel-drive 2015 Mercedes-Benz C300 4Matic, which gets a 2.0-liter, direct-injection turbo-four, rated (for now) at 235-hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. Assuming those numbers don't change, the C300 4Matic will produce an additional 34-hp and 44-lb-ft than the 1.8-liter turbo-four powering the outgoing C250. Next up is the C400 4Matic. With a 3.0-liter direct-injection turbocharged V-6 making 329 hp and 354 lb-ft, the 2015 C400 4Matic boasts a 27-hp and 81 lb-ft jump over the naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V-6 in the outgoing C350.
Both engines are paired to a carryover seven-speed automatic transmission that has been slightly tweaked to improve efficiency and performance. Mercedes unveiled a nine-speed automatic earlier this year, and we wouldn't be surprised if the new gearbox eventually finds its way into the C-Class. A turbodiesel and a hybrid powertrain are reportedly in the works.
The vehicle's lower curb weight is another welcome improvement. About 50 percent of the 2015 C's body is constructed of aluminum, compared to just 10 percent in the outgoing model. As a result, the body is 154 pounds lighter and Benz claims overall curb weight has gone down by about 220 pounds. The current C250 tipped our scales at 3421 pounds, making it one of the lightest sedans in its segment, which includes the BMW 328i (3480 pounds) and Audi A4 2.0T (3710 pounds).
Not only should the lighter curb weight help with performance, but so should the optional Airmatic air suspension. It's the first time Airmatic has been offered in the C -- Benz claims it's a segment first -- and the system will allow drivers to choose from a number of Agility Select modes such as Comfort, ECO, Sport, and Sport+. Those who don't opt for Airmatic will have their choice of two standard suspensions, with the first being comfortable yet sporty and the second a truly sporty setup that sits 0.6 inch lower and is part of the Sport Package. The front suspension also features a new four-link setup, while the rear remains a five-link system.
The 2015 C-Class will ride on a wheelbase that has been stretched to 112 inches, about three inches more than the outgoing model. Overall length increases by 3.7 inches (184 inches) and 1.6 inches has been added to overall width (71 inches). This should translate to fairly decent amount of added passenger room, though complete interior dimensions haven't been released. The truck, however, will now hold up to 17 cubic feet of stuff, an increase of 5.3 cubic feet.
In addition to more space, the 2015 C's exterior styling has S-Class written all over it, especially from the side and when viewing rear-three quarter angles. The side character lines are essentially a carbon copy of the S, as are the taillights that wrap around the rear fender. The lower rear bumper is fairly sporty-looking, with exposed side air vents and a diffuser that integrates nicely with the exhaust tips. The front end is more influenced by the recently updated E-Class, including large air dams and intricate details within the headlight housing. Halogen units are standard, but customers can also pick between a static LED setup or a more advanced system that adjusts to driver inputs and the road ahead.
Those LED headlights are just the beginning of the S-Class-like technology. For starters, the 2015 C-Class has the full suite of Intelligent Drive safety items, including Collision Prevention Assist, which helps with braking duties at speeds up to 124 mph. Additional Intelligent Drive features include an enhanced cruise control system optimized for traffic and an enhanced lane-keeping assist system. Another new safety item is window airbags.
The interior is drastically different. Where the outgoing model was a collage of angular and round air vents and trim pieces, the 2015 C-Class appears much more cohesive and less cluttered. For example, all the air vents are round, while the center stack is dominated by a substantial chunk of sculpted wood accented by simple rows of buttons. Panel gaps are tighter and materials look more premium. And just like its bigger brothers, the C-Class gets its own analog clock. Located high above the C's fancy new timepiece is a 7-inch infotainment screen, though a larger 8.4-inch display is used with the optional Multimedia Package.
The COMAND system is more advanced and is highlighted by a standard touchpad that hovers above the knob. The touchpad allows users to control the system using finger gestures or by typing letters and numbers. Other notable interior features include a head-up display and an optional Burmester sound system, a premium audio unit that first debuted on the SL and S-Class. And like the S-Class, the 2015 C-Class can be optioned with the advanced Air-Balance system that adds air ionization, improved filtration, and the feature that allows you to add a fragrance.
With the 2015 C-Class sporting a lighter and improved chassis, new engines, and technology that'll impress discerning S-Class buyers, Mercedes has to like its chances of dominating the segment, including the BMW 3 Series. We'll find out closer to fall 2014, when the not-so-baby Benz will go on sale.