Refined and redesigned, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class should remain one of the best picks in the hyper-competitive luxury sport sedan/coupe segment. For 2015, it's a little bigger, roomier and more versatile.
Diverse lineup that will include sedan, coupe, wagon, diesel and hybrid models; more rear-seat legroom; additional features drawn from higher-end models.
Increased length and new platform could hamper traditionally keen handling; move upmarket will push entry price even higher.
The 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is fully redesigned.
The C-Class is Mercedes-Benz's North American bread-winner. Other models may make more per sale, but the Baby Benz keeps the lights on. For the 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class, designers must evolve the car's look without resorting to experiment, while engineers and planners must load the car with all competitive tech conveniences and safety. From the camouflaged prototypes we've seen, the new C-Class delivers subtle new style over larger proportions.
A large grille, with a bold three-pointed star, appears to dominate a front end likely reserved for "Sport" models (Luxury trim models should get the more subtle, traditional chrome louver grille with the hood ornament star). Geometric lower air intake shapes impart a more aggressive look. The C-Class also looks more low-slung and longer-nosed than its predecessor and should show tighter, sharper lines like those of the recently redesigned E-Class.
The C-Class is expected to grow about 5 inches longer, with much of that gain realized as additional rear seat legroom. More importantly, the 2015 C-Class will ride on a new rear-wheel-drive platform that will underpin most future rear-drive Benzes.
Big news will come under the hood, as this C-Class will use a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine built in the U.S. in conjunction with Nissan. In fact, the rest of the C-Class assembly will take place on Mercedes' production line in Alabama.
Mercedes officials have also confirmed diesel and hybrid powertrains for the new C-Class, as well as an all-wheel-drive option. The 2.1-liter diesel could, in fact, replace a traditional V6 option, depending on whether Mercedes deems the BMW 335i a significant threat. In that case, a detuned version of the twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 in the forthcoming E400 could be an option. Expect an eight-speed automatic transmission across the range.
As crucial as the C-Class is to Mercedes-Benz's health, it no longer carries the burden of entry into the luxury brand. That job now falls to the CLA-Class which, at 3 inches shorter than the incoming C-Class, becomes the new Baby Benz. To further distinguish the new C-Class from its compact stablemate, expect the C-Class to deliver better rear seat room, larger trunk space and a suite of standard and available driver safety aids like lane monitoring, adaptive cruise control and parking sensors. Full LED lighting and air suspension should also be options.
Inside, a revised instrument panel includes a wide expanse behind the steering wheel for gauges and a large TFT screen, while the next generation of the COMAND multimedia system retains its console-mounted rotary knob and gains a stand-alone dash-top display for a visual interface.
The 2015 C-Class is expected to debut at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show and go on sale in the fall of 2014. A coupe arrives in 2015, while hybrid models should come in 2016. A hatchback model, aimed squarely at BMW's 3 Series GranTurismo, is intended to be the sportiest of the lineup and should make it to the U.S. The wagon, however, is more doubtful for American buyers.
Check back for a full review of the 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class, including specs, driving impressions and buying advice as it becomes available.
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