What It Is: The next-generation Mercedes-Benz C-class, caught prancing about undisguised. It has good reason to flaunt what it’s got: Compared to the somewhat generic current car, the exterior of the 2015 is far more sensual and looks a lot, in fact, like a small S-class. Cues cribbed from the C’s none-more-luxurious sibling include the prominent grille and headlights, the curved character line on its flanks, and the vertical, smartly integrated taillights. The contour of the rear window evokes the striking S-class coupe concept, and we’re told to expect a similar treatment on the next-generation E-class, too.
Inside, the new C-class packs one of the more well-designed and -executed interiors in its class. The cabin was revealed last month, and you can read our hands-on impressions here.
Why It Matters: The next-generation C-class will be a pivotal piece in Benz’s plans to increase sales numbers and grab market share from cars such as BMW’s 3-series and upcoming 4-series Gran Coupe, as well as the Audi A4 and the Lexus IS. It will be one of the highest-volume—and therefore highest visibility—cars to wear the swoopy new styling language ushered in by the new CLA- and S-classes, and that nice, new cabin symbolizes Benz’s renewed focus on challenging erstwhile leader Audi on interior quality and design.
With the front-wheel-drive CLA positioned as the sporty and youth-leaning entry-level model, the C will focus on core Mercedes virtues such as comfort, elegance, and luxury. The C-class range will span an entire family of vehicles, including a station wagon, a two-door coupe, and a two-door convertible. We are likely to see the latter two here, but probably not the wagon.
Platform: The architecture of the new C-class shares many components with Benz's other rear-wheel-drive models; its closest relatives are the next E-class and the next GLK. It is designed to also accommodate 4MATIC all-wheel drive, and it will of course come packing the latest in Mercedes assistance systems and connectivity.
Powertrains: In the U.S., the C-class will be offered with turbocharged four- and six-cylinder gasoline engines. Expect around 250 horsepower from the four and more than 350 from the twin-turbocharged six. The only available transmission at launch will be Daimler’s own seven-speed torque-converter automatic, but it will be supplanted at some point during this model’s life by a nine-speed auto. No manual transmission will be offered here, but Benz will have one in Europe. There will be no AMG version. OK, we’re lying—of course there will be an AMG version. The C AMG will bend space and time with a twin-turbocharged V-8 pumping out well over 500 horsepower, and which will be mated to a version of AMG's Speedshift dual-clutch automatic.
Thanks to: Car and Driver