New C-Class sharpens up for battle of the executive saloons
THEY said the new C-Class would be different. Now Mercedes show how and why they think it is.
The new compact executive debuts in Detroit next month and goes on sale here mid-2014.
It is unlikely to cost that much more than the current one, by all accounts.
Are we are seeing a potential head-on clash with the BMW 3-series for 'sporty' drivers?
Perhaps for the first time it can exchange heavy punches on looks, dynamics and drive.
This new saloon is certainly sharper outside and within.
It also benefits from a lot of the hi-tech stuff that now adorns the new S-Class.
By using a lot more aluminium they have also been able to cut weight by 100kg.
There seems to be agreement that the chassis is quite agile. And the engine line-up includes one with under 100g/km emissions. That is a claimed first in the segment.
You can take up the option of air suspension -- something of a first too in this area.
Central to it, according to Mercedes, is the modular rear-drive MRA (Mercedes Rear-drive Architecture) platform. This is the basis for rear-drive models upwards from the C-Class.
That means it will cater for SUVs, for example, as well as future estate, coupe, cabriolet, all-wheel-drive and AMG versions.
Now, the CLA 4dr coupe currently with us has gone down well but to distance the new C-Class from it in terms of size, they have had to make it bigger all round. It is 4,686mm long (up 95mm), 1,810mm wide (+40mm) and 1,442mm 5mm lower) with an 80mm increase to the wheelbase to 2,840mm.
The effect of it all is that back-seat passengers get 25mm more legroom and the boot nudges five litres to 480. I do like the way they have cut the overhangs and given it decent lines along the sides. Far better-looking car.
I have no doubt that was done to attract a younger buyer -- that's the mission statement from Mercedes nowadays.
Inside is certainly younger with the 'wraparound' dashboard like that in the S-Class. Thankfully there are fewer switches.
Not so sure about the free-standing screen (7ins or 8.4ins depending on model) on top of the dashboard. It shows core information and infotainment details and options.
There is a touchpad in the hand-rest which makes selecting stuff fairly easy, they say.
The internet is just a mobile phone with Bluetooth/data option away.
Apps such as Weather, GoogleTM Local Search with StreetView and Panoramio, Destination/Route Download and Facebook can be used on the move.
Rather cleverly, they have one of the acoustic systems using space in the cross and side members in the body structure as a 'resonance chamber' for the bass speakers. They say it is a real listening experience.
There will be three different designs and trim for the exterior and interior. And there is a huge array of airbags. These include pelvis bags for driver and front passenger, a windowbag, sidebags for the outer rear seats and a kneebag for the driver
Halogen headlamps are also standard but there will be LED versions. An automatic electric parking brake is standard too.
The significant piece of information is that they have tuned the chassis for a 'more sporty and agile drive' -- with stiffness increased by 20pc. That will tell you they are going after younger drivers who want more pzazz from their cars.
The AirMatic air suspension system is adaptive and self-levelling with four driving modes.
Initially there will be a 2.1-litre diesel (168bhp) C220 Bluetec, a 1.6-litre petrol (154bhp) C180 and a 2-litre (181bhp) petrol in the C200.