Entry-Level No More
Behind the wheel of the 2015 C-Class
Article William West Hopper
Images William West Hopper & MBUSA
Driving the new C-Class, you’ll wonder why the company stayed with the old model designation. No longer the entry model into Mercedes-Benz ownership, the new W205 chassis series has created its own spot in the lineup. Smaller and sportier than the E-Class, it nevertheless offers styling, comfort, and safety previously available only in the S-Class.
With its more rounded styling, the C-Class seems bigger, though it’s only three inches longer and two inches wider than the previous generation. There is more shoulder room in front and a bit more rear legroom, though rear headroom is tight with the optional panoramic roof, requiring a bit more flexibility to get in than the previous generation C-Class.
The interior design is pure Mercedes-Benz. The front seat is more comfortable, cradling you like a padded racing seat. Adjustable leg bolsters provide support to those with longer limbs and the flat-bottom leather steering wheel is very comfortable on the hands.
The sharply angled dash is attractive, with contrasting stitching, touches of aluminum trim and a choice of wood finishes that reminded us of the new S-Class. The Air Balance Package option borrowed from the S-Class is available, providing fragrance, ionization and extra filtration for cabin air.
The new touch-pad controller, another innovation from the S-Class, will take some practice to master – the control wheel is still there for those preferring the old technology.
In addition to interior appointments, technology options introduced in the S-Class include adaptive high-beam and LED headlamps, Airmatic Plus, and a Driver Assistance Package with Distronic Plus and Active Lane Keeping Assist, which can practically drive the car for you. But take your hands off the wheel for very long and a stern warning is displayed on the information panel screen between the familiar dual circular gauge clusters.
Ride quality is very much up to Mercedes-Benz standards; you can feel the road surface in sport mode – comfort mode provides a softer experience. Handling is impressive: The 2-liter C300 is nimble as a dancer while the 3-liter C400 is not as light on its toes, though it can get to where it’s pointed very quickly. Both models have Agility Select with four preselected drive modes plus individual preferences. Ride comfort is adjustable in models with the optional Airmatic Suspension. The C300 rides on 17-inch wheels and the C400 on 18-inch – the wheel options are impressive.
The C-Class will debut in the United States this fall with the C300 and C400 engines and a base C300 rear-drive model will arrive early 2015. Diesel, hybrid, and AMG versions are in the pipeline. Don’t ask for a stick shift, however; company number crunchers say there is just not enough demand here. Fuel economy over several hundred miles of mixed city and spirited mountain driving averaged 23 mpg for the C400 and 28 mpg for the C300.
Honestly, the only thing that’s the same in the W204 C-Class this car replaces is the key! Pricing will start at $40,400 for the C300 4Matic and $48,590 for the C400 4Matic in September, and the rear-wheel-drive C300 coming next spring will start at $38,400.
There is no question the all-new C-Class is merely a glimpse of what’s to come from the oldest automobile manufacturer in the world. Be prepared to be impressed.
A more detailed description of the C-Class can be found in The Star, March-April 2014
With its combination of trendy urban excitement and challenging rural scenery, Seattle was the canvas on which the C-Class press launch was painted.
Two engines will be available when the car goes on sale – the 2-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder producing 241 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque in the C300 4Matic, and the 3-liter turbocharged 6-cylinder producing 329 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque – both connected to the wheels with 4Matic all-wheel drive through a 7-speed automatic transmission.
The W205 is slightly larger than the previous C-Class, with more shoulder and legroom, though headroom is limited in the back seat and passengers have to tuck down to enter without hitting their heads.
In the cabin, the styling and convenience is drawn directly from the new S-Class, with a broad choice of woods and metal trims available, a central 7-inch or optional 8.4-inch display screen controlled by a touch-pad pommel in addition to the familiar control dial, seat controls, and speakers on the door panels that look just like those on the S-Class.
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