Seattle, Washington -- The new C-Class sedan from Mercedes-Benz is a great combination of class and performance in a stylish sedan package. With all new styling both inside and out, and new powertrains, the 2015 C-Class sedan is sized right for urban commuting and handles the road with comfort for cross-country jaunts on any kinds of road.
The C-Class sedan is the top-selling model in the Mercedes-Benz line-up and at its launch this fall it will be offered as C300 and C400 models. Both share the same classy exterior styling, with short overhangs, a long low hood and body lines that create a flow from the chrome grille to the short decklid. The car is also a bit bigger, with a 9.4-centimetre increase in length and 4 cm in width to provide additional interior space, with a trunk that has increased to 17-cubic feet of useable space but the styling gives the impression of a smaller sporty sedan.
We drove both C300 and C400 models. There are subtle differences between the two models, such as wheel designs and the air suspension on the C400 providing varying ride heights. The C400 also comes equipped with the AMG Sport appearance package that includes a large three-piece front spoiler, larger mesh air intakes at the front air-dam corners, deletion of lower side chrome trim, perforated front-brake rotors and MB logos on the calipers and sport rear bumper and apron. The Sport Appearance package is optional on the C300 and it looks great. HID headlamps and LED tail lights are standard on the C300 while the C400 gets LED headlamps. Interestingly, the C300 can be ordered with options that will equip it almost identically to the C400.
So what is the biggest difference between the two models? It's the engines. The C300 is equipped with a new 2.0-litre turbocharged, direct injected 4-cylinder engine putting out 241 horsepower while the C400 gets a new turbocharged, direct-injected 3.0-litre V6 with 329 horsepower. Torque ratings are even more impressive, with the 2.0-litre engine putting out 273 foot pounds starting at just 1300 rpm. It is this low rpm torque on both engines than gives the C-Class cars impressive performance. While the larger V6 may seem the way to go, the 4-cylinder certainly provides excellent passing power. Fuel economy ratings have not been released but Mercedes is expecting a 15 per cent improvement in economy over the past model, with an increase in performance too.
The rest of the powertrain includes a seven-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters and their superb 4Matic all-wheel drive for handling on all road surfaces. A small button to the left of the console-mounted shift lever allows the driver to select five different driving modes from ECO to Sport+ mode and each provides a distinct feel in throttle, transmission and suspension control. The Airmatic suspension on the C400 is also adjusted automatically. I found the Sport+ mode a bit touchy for smooth cruising but excellent on twisty roads, while the ECO mode provides a relaxed driving mode.
The new interior incorporates styling cues from previous MB models such as the round ventilation outlets. Fit and finish is excellent, far surpassing what the $43,000 base price would suggest.
The feature list is long, including safety features that assist the driver and protect occupants from impending collisions in all directions including rear collisions, and driving aids to help maintain control on varying road surfaces.
The Navigation/Information-system screen is a modular display mounted on the centre of the dash and the images are crystal clear, although I did find the voice commands came a bit late at times when trying to navigate through unfamiliar roads. The console has a rotary knob to control and select displays and features, with a new touch-pad control mounted slightly above it that also allows the driver to operate features. Just like your desktop computer, the car enables you to operate the features in many different ways so you can choose which method suits you.
Interior room is excellent up front, with power-seat controls on the door panels, typical of Mercedes. Rear-seat leg room is snug with the front seats adjusted all the way back, but this would happen only with the tallest of drivers.
Pricing starts at $43,000 for the C300 and $51,400 for the C400. When equipped with common option packages on the C300, you can expect it to be priced around $47,000. Priced in line with other luxury cars in this size and class, the C-Class cars provide new levels of standard equipment, especially in safety features, and great looks too.