A new Mercedes-Benz C-Class is always a significant automotive event. Including the car’s descendent, the 190, Mercedes has sold more than 8.5 million cars in the mid-sized luxury car segment. It has also racked up more than 40,000 sales locally to establish itself as the best-selling luxury car in Australia.
CarAdvice provides 10 things to know about the fourth-generation C-Class, codenamed W205, that will go on sale in Australia around July/August 2014…
Won’t the new model clash with the recently launched CLA sedan that’s based on the A-Class?
Benz had a game plan here and they’ve made the new C-Class notably bigger to distance it from the four-door ‘coupe’ CLA. The new C is 95mm longer, 40mm wider, 5mm lower than before, and the gap between the front and rear axles (wheelbase) has stretched by 80mm. And where the CLA sits on the company’s MFA (Mercedes Front-wheel-drive Architecture) platform, the 2014 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is the first car to sit on its MRA (Mercedes Rear-Drive Architecture) platform.
There have been multiple models off the A-Class platform… what else can we expect to built on the C-Class’s architecture?
Obvious ones are the C-Class Estate (spied, above) and Coupe, but longer variations will also underpin the next E-Class (due 2016) and S-Class. At around C-Class size, there will be the second-generation GLK (with a coupe-style GLC model expected) and next SLK sports car. Parts of the previous C-Class underpinnings also helped to form the E-Class Coupe and Convertible.
Is 41 litres for the fuel tank size a misprint on the spec sheet?
Surprisingly not. The previous C-Class’s fuel tank started at 59 litres but Benz has shrunk it to help save weight – and the base C180 weighs 100kg less than its predecessor (with thanks to more extensive use of aluminium). The company says improved fuel efficiency means there’s little change to range. There’s also an optional 66L tank, which will be standard on Australian-spec models.
Tell us more about the engines
Your C-Class can use as little as 3.8 litres per 100km – less than a Toyota Prius – if you opt for the C300 Hybrid that combines a turbo diesel engine and an electric motor. If that’s still too thirsty, a C350 Plug-in Hybrid is due in 2015 offering 3.0L/100km consumption.
The range kicks off with a C180 powered by a 115kW 1.6-litre turbo petrol (not coming to Australia, at least initially), moving up to two C250 four-cylinder models – one petrol, one diesel.
If you’re looking for more performance, a new C400 employs a twin-turbocharged 3.0L V6 with 245kW and 480Nm. A bit later in 2014, we’ll see the emergence of the always-anticipated C63 AMG version – this time with a twin-turbo V8.
A six-speed manual is available in Europe though all C-Classes coming to Australia will pair their engines with a seven-speed auto.
Any tech that’s trickled down from the S-Class?
There are a variety of driver assist systems imported from Mercedes’ big limo. These include Adaptive Brake Assist for the city that operates from 7km/h and will automatically slow the C-Class to avoid rear-ending an object at up to 40km/h, and Collision Prevention Assist Plus that can brake the car in freeway traffic up to a speed of 200km/h.
Air suspension: a segment first
The C-Class in standard spec rolls on a steel-sprung suspension but buyers can upgrade to air springs. This option brings a four-mode vehicle setting system – called Agility Control - that allows the driver to select (via a console thumb-scroll button) the firmness of the ride. The Comfort (default mode), Eco, Sport and Sport Plus models also change the steering, engine, gearbox and even air-conditioning set-ups depending on whether the driver is looking to conserve fuel or expend adrenaline on a twisty road. There’s also an Individual mode to tailor preferred separate settings for the steering, dampers and drivetrain.
Will it be more expensive than the old model?
The current C-Class range starts at $59,900 and pricing isn’t expected to move much. Mercedes-Benz Australia is promising more features per model, with as much safety kit as possible.
It looks like a shrunken S-Class…
There are indeed cues in areas such as the tail-light treatment and the way the rear window protrudes into the rear pillar that are borrowed from Benz’s limousine. Some might also see a resemblance in the front end to the E-Class – though the influence is the other way around here: it was the C-Class’s design that inspired the look of the facelifted E-Class.
Which cars will the C-Class compete against?
All the luxury car brands have downsized or are downsizing to hatchback level, but the mid-size segment remains the heart of the premium battle. The C-Class’s traditional rivals are the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4, while from Japan there’s both the Lexus IS and just-launched Infiniti Q50. Britain will also join the fray in 2015 with the Jaguar XE.
So is it actually any good?
Very - but you can read our full review to find out why.