The new C-Class is a crucial model for Mercedes. The new generation introduces the new RWD platform and raises the comfort and luxury standards of the middle premium class. Our first impressions explain how much of an S-Class is in the new C-Class.
With over 8.5 million units built since 1982, and we’re also including the Baby-Benz 190, the C-Class is the most successful Mercedes-Benz ever. The Mercedes-Benz executives rowed in praising at the press conference for the official launch. The C-Class is „The Best of Everything”, “The C-Class is the most attractive model ever manufactured in its class” or „The C-Class is a small S-Class”.
According to these statements, our expectations are very high and we wonder how many stars the new C-Class generation actually deserves. At the first glance, the interior environment gives an impression of fineness and distinction superior to what the rivals BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 or Lexus IS have to offer. You have the feeling that you take a seat in a car which belongs to a superior class. The combination of natural leather upholstery (optional) and classic or exotic veneer matte or glossy enclosure on the central console and the door panels looks great, while the one piece central console which elegantly sweeps from the center air outlets to the new touchpad placed above the controller, create a sense of open space. The five ventilation outlets in silver shadow, with their metallic cool-touch effect like the majority of the controls, oppose against the warm look of genuine veneer and give an impression of high quality. It doesn’t matter what type of veneer insertions you choose, the wing-like trim element which separates the upper and lower section of the instrument panel is always in silver shadow color. Its complex tridimensional form, which also holds up the large display of the Comand multimedia system, made wooden trimming impossible in case you order veneer insertions for other parts of the instrument panel. As in the A-Class family, the C-Class took over the solution with five ventilation outlets and a 7-inch floating display for the standard Audio 20 or the optional Audio 20 CD (optional with a touchpad), or a 8,4-inch one if you choose the Comand multimedia system.
The interior of the C-Class looks classier than that of its rivals and gives the impression of a superior class
The C-Class is more spacious than the former generation. The 95 mm extra length was very effectively used, because 80 mm of them were reserved for the increase of wheelbase with the direct benefit of the kneeroom for rear passengers. The rear backrest is firm and excellently configurated, but the cushion is a little too short. The rear headroom is adequate, even in case of the test driver which is 1.80 meters (5,9 ft) tall, there is still a two-finger space below the roof. And even if you ordered the panoramic roof (the options list also offers a classical sunroof), the headroom is not affected, as the sunroof does not slide under, like usually, but above. It looks a little odd, if you come to look at it from the outside, but it is a practical solution which does not reduce the headroom.
The new multimedia system gave away the multitude of control buttons used for the previous generation and brings up, for the first time, a touchpad which is not only used for writing letters and numbers like in the Audi A8, for example, but also acts like a PC mouse, allowing navigation throughout different menus. And the accuracy of the touchpad is far superior to that of the similar system of the Lexus CT200h, for example. The head-up display is also new and – a subjective impression – the graphics is more pleasant than the similar system of the BMW. But there is also a rebuke, because the assistance functions were not included in the multimedia system and you can activate them by pushing some control buttons placed on the left side of the steering wheel, which is not the best ergonomic solution.
The new C-Class comes with three equipment lines: Exclusive (replacing the former Elegance), Avantgarde and AMG. The Exclusive line promotes a classical and elegant line and is tagged by the Mercedes star placed on the bonnet and radiator grille with three front louvre cross bars and vertical bar in chrome. The Avantgarde displays a sporty look with two matte iridium silver louvers and chrome insertions, which hold up the Mercedes star logo, a solution also used for the AMG trim.
The configuration of the new Mercedes C-Class is a hard job, because until you get the option list, you have to choose from four types of suspensions, four petrol engines, a hybrid and, for European market, also from four diesel engines. Three suspensions have classical springs and the fourth – the air suspension (AIRMATIC) – is a premiere in this class. The availability of the air suspension was possible due to the fact that the Mercedes C-Class is built on the completely new modular platform with RWD, which will also be used in the future for the E and the S-Class.
The Mercedes C-Class standardly comes with a comfort suspension, which we only recommend to seniors. In the C 200 that we tested, the body roll is present and the steering feel is indirect. A better compromise is the Avantgarde suspension, which is also a comfort suspension, but lowered by 15 mm. Those who need a sporty C-Class, will make the right choice by opting for a sports suspension, that is more rigid and also lowered by 15 mm. That provides a superior agility and a reduced body roll.
Similar to the adaptive suspension of the BMW, the Mercedes now offers a similar system and the magic words are Agility Select, which allows alterations of the gearbox, of the steering and of the engine response. Three modes are available: Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport Plus and the Individual mode, which allow separate settings for the suspension, the steering and the engine response. If you order the Airmatic suspension, the Agility Select also adjusts the ground clearance. By using the Airmatic, you feel as if you are in a limo of a superior class during long distance driving and no other rival can give a more comfortable ride in this class. On Sport Plus Mode, the steering is very precise and direct and the body roll is insignificant. The New C-Class is more agile, also thanks to the intensive weight saving of approximately 100 kg apart from the former generation. The new platform also means a new hybrid body construction made of aluminium, high strength steel and steel. For the former generation, the aluminium percentage used for the body was less than 10%, but this figure raises up to 48% now. For example, the front door only weighs 10 kg and the standard tank only has 41 liters (10,83 gal). Those who want a better range have to make an option for the 66-liters (17,44 gal) tank. And the new multilink front suspension is not only lighter, but it also significantly improves cornering accuracy and comfort.
The new four link suspension reduces understeering and signficicantly improves comfort
With exceptional aerodynamics (Mercedes claims a Cx of 0,24 for the Exclusive version with the active radiator grille), the noise level is very low at speeds of 140-160 km/h. From this point of view, the new C-Class is a genuine Mercedes, which preserves the traditional values of the brand and we can say that there is not only “more class in the new C-Class”, but also more of an S-Class in the new C-Class”. With the Airmatic, the Mercedes fortunately combines the traditional comfort of the brand with a sporty drive, which throws arrows to the rival in Bavaria.
- Superb comfort with the Airmatic
- Very nice environment with high quality materials and nice craftmanship
- Better ergonomics with the new Comand generation
- Good performance of the 2,1 liter diesel and 2 liter turbo petrol 211 HP
- Superb 3 liter V6 turbo with subjectively better performance than BMW similar engine
- Good looks on the outside
MAX vs MIN
- Relatively short rear seat cushion
- Narrow access to the rear seats due to the form of rear door
- Fuel consumption of the 2 liter turbo
- 1,6 liter turbodiesel Nissan origin lacks pulling power at high revs
The engine range is vast. At the launch, the C-Class starts with five engines: three petrol engines, the C 180 (1,6 liter turbo/156 HP), the C 200 (2 liter turbo, 184 HP) and the
C 250 (2 liter turbo, 211 HP), plus two diesels in the C 220 BlueTec (2,1 liter bi-turbodiesel, 170 HP) and in the C 250 BlueTec (2,1 liter bi-turbodiesel, 204 HP). In September C 180 BlueTec (1,6 liter turbodiesel, 115 HP), the C 200 Bluetec (1,6 liter turbodiesel, 136 HP), the C 300 BlueTec Hybrid (2,1 liter turbodiesel, 204 CP plus electric motor 27 CP) and the C 300 4Matic (V6 3 liter turbo, 333 HP) plus the 4Matic version for the C 250 Bluetec will follow. We drove few of the engine versions and here are our impressions. Surprisingly, a Nissan-rooted 1,6 liter diesel, modified for the Mercedes brand demands, works in the C 180 BlueTec and C 200 BlueTec versions. With cast iron block and aluminium cylinder head, the Mercedes introduces steel pistons for a passenger diesel, for the first time. With one turbo, the engine delivers 115 or 136 HP and claims a very low fuel consumption (emissions of 98 or 99 g/km). Combined with a 6-speed manual transmission, the compact diesel offers a good torque at low and medium revs, it is refined and silent like in some Nissan models, but at high revs, when you expect more power in this premium segment, you feel the limits and you must keep in mind that this engine has to move 1,5 tones, despite the extreme diet. Why is Mercedes using this small diesel engine and not the better torque delivery 2,1-liter engine? The answer is simple: it is because of the lower emissions. And for this exact reason, this engine version will be very much appreciated by the ventures and by the taxi companies. A pleasant surprise is the new 6-speed manual gearbox, much more precise than the former one and including intelligent gear ratios.
For the people who are not ready for compromise and want a real Mercedes with an automatic 7G-Tronic transmission and a solid torque, the C 220 BlueTec (400 Nm, 170 HP) and the C 250 BlueTec (500 Nm, 204 HP), both with two turbos, are available. The more powerful version, with 204 HP, has a pulling force at the level of a V6, a spontaneous response and is always ready for action. And up against the former generation, the noise insulation of the engine compartment is almost as low as the one of the S 250 Blue Tec. And the performance doesn’t mean lack of efficiency. You can reach consumption figures of 7 l/100 km (33,6 mpg) with no great efforts, as the start/stop system and Eco Mode come standard for all automatic gearbox versions.
The 2-liter turbo 211 HP offers the performance of a GTI
But for the US, the most interesting are the petrol engines and the new 2-liter turbo engine, that offer a great balance of performance and efficiency. The most powerful one, with 211 HP and 350 Nm, is as quick as a compact GTI and reaches 100 km/h in only 6,6 seconds. But the official fuel consumption of 5,3 l/100 km (44,4 mpg) is unrealistic, because the reality shows a 10 l/100 km (23,5 mpg) fuel consumption, in an alert, but not sporty driving style. Those who would want a sporty limousine, could choose the new top version equipped with V6 3-liter turbocharged engine, that delivers 333 HP and is completed with a 4Matic 4-wheel drive. Mercedes has not published the complete figures for this engine yet, but after our first impression, it feels faster and with a pulling power higher than the already multiple prize winning 3-liter six inline turbo from the BMW. The liniarity of the engine and the sound when you press the throttle pedal are also noteworthy.
As every modern new Mercedes, the C-Class is a fortress, as all the modern assistance systems from the S-Class are also available in the middle class Mercedes. The Attention Assist, which can warn the driver in case of inattentiveness and drowsiness (now with a different level of sensitivity) and the Collision Prevention Assist Plus (it brakes when stationary vehicles are detected up to a speed of 50 km/h and can prevent rear-end collisions up to 40 km/h, depending on the situation) are part of the standard equipment. You can optionally order the Distronic Plus (adaptive cruise control) with steering assist, that helps the driver keep the vehicle in the middle of the lane by generating a steering torque when driving in a straight line or even on slight bends. The system can be engaged in a speed range between 0 and 200 km/h with a selector lever on the steering wheel, as before. The desired speed can be set between 30 km/h and 200 km/h. Another important system is the BAS Plus, combined with the Cross Traffic Assist, which function up to speed of around 72 km/h. The Cross-Traffic Assist function can help at impending collisions with crossing traffic at junctions. The PRE-SAFE® Brake with pedestrian detection is active up to approximately 72 km/h and can autonomously prevent collisions with pedestrians when cruising up to 50 km/h.
For the first time, new C-Class will be produced also in USA, in Mercedes factory from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, along with ML, R and GL-Class, a fifth model – the SUV coupe MLC based on ML – following in 2015.
VerdictWith a luxurious and modern interior and an air suspension, which offer a perfect balance of comfort and sporty drive, the C-Class has strong arguments in front of its traditional rivals. In drive and well being, the C-Class seems to be part of a superior class. The new platform brought less weight and better aerodynamics, with direct benefit to the fuel consumption and dynamics, plus an armada of passive and active modern safety systems. Also the superb design contributes to the general image and makes the new C-Class a very desirable car.
Technical data C-Class EU-version
|Model||C 180||C 200||C 250||C 180 BlueTec||C 200 BlueTec||C 220 BlueTec||C 250 BlueTec||C 250 BlueTec 4Matic||C 300 BlueTec Hybrid|
|Engine type||L4, turbo||L4, turbo||L4, turbo||L4, turbodiesel||L4, turbodiesel||L4, turbodiesel||L4, turbodiesel||L4, turbodiesel||L4, turbodiesel+ motor electric|
|Max. torque/revs (Nm/rpm)||250/1200-4000||300/1200-4000||350/1200-4000||280/1500-2800||320/1500-2600||400/1400-2800||500/1600-1800||500/1600-1800||500/1600-1800|
|Transmission||man, 6 tr./aut. 7 tr.||man. 6 tr./aut 7 tr.||aut. 7 trepte||man. 6 trepte||man., 6 trepte||man. 6 tr./aut 7 tr.||aut. 7 trepte||aut. 7 trepte||aut. 7 trepte|
|Kerb weight(kg)||1395 (1425)||1445 (1465)||(1480)||1485||1485||1550 (1570)||(1595)||(1660)||(1715)|
|Maximum speed (km/h)||225 (223)||237 (235)||(250)||205||218||234 (233)||(247)||(240)||(244)|
|Acceleration 0-100 km/h (s)||8,2 (8,5)||7,5 (7,3)||(6,6)||11,1||9,7||7,7 (7,4)||(6,6)||(6,9)||(6,4)|
|Combined fuel consumption (l/100 km)||5,0 (5,4)||5,3 (5,3)||(5,3)||3,8||3,8||4,0 (4,3)||(4,3)||(4,8)||(3,6)|
|Emission CO2 (g/km)||116 (126)||123 (123)||(123)||99||99||103 (109)||(109)||(129)||(94)|
|Price (euro with VAT, GER)||33.558||36.414||40.936||33.915||36.295||38.675||44.030||46.410||47.005|
Values in brackets are for automatic versions
Technical data C-Class USA version
|Model||C 300 4Matic||C 400 4Matic|
|Engine||L4, turbo||V6, bi-turbo|
|Max. torque/revs (lb-ft/rpm)||273/1,300-4,000||354/1,600-4,000|
|Transmission||7 speed automatic||7 speed automatic|
|Curb weight (lbs)||3,583||3,583|
|Trunk capacity (cu. ft)||17||17|
|Acceleration 0-60 mph (s)||na||na|
|City fuel consumption (mpg)||24||21|
|Highway fuel consumption (mpg)||31||29|