Mercedes-Benz’s all new 2015 C-Class is a big deal for the Stuttgart based automaker. The last generation C-Class was the brands best selling model, with 2.7 million units sold worldwide since its introduction in 2007. Now 7 years later the new C-Class is about to hit dealers worldwide, time for GTspirit to take a closer look!
Mercedes-Benz officially unveiled the new C-Class at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January. During the annual Mercedes-Benz Road Trip we had the opportunity to see the 2015 Mercedes C-Class in action, but until now we did not have a chance to drive it.
The 2015 C-Class is available with a range of powerful yet efficient engines. The new Euro 6 compliant range of engines are equipped with a standard start/stop system, contributing to the 20 percent gain in efficiency over the outgoing model.
In total the C-Class will hit the market over the next few months with eight different engine choices. At the base lay 7 four-cylinder engines and one V6 petrol engine. Out of those there are three diesel engines, four petrol engines and one hybrid diesel. In C180 guise the C-Class will have a 1.6 litre four cylinder petrol engine producing 154 horsepower and 147 lb-ft of torque. The Mercedes-Benz C200, is powered by a 2.0 litre four cylinder producing 184 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque. The C250 also has a 2.0 litre four cylinder producing 211hp and 350Nm of torque. The petrol line-up is topped by a Mercedes-Benz C400 variant that comes standard with Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel drive system. It is powered by a 3.0-liter V6 engine delivering a total of 333 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque.
The diesel line-up includes the C200 Bluetec with a 1.6 litre four cylinder engine (136hp / 300Nm), C220 Bluetec with 2.0 liter four cylinder (170hp / 400Nm) and C250 Bluetec also with a 2.0 liter four cylinder (204hp / 500Nm). The C300 Bluetec Hybrid features the same 2.0 liter four cylinder engine as the C250 but thanks to the pairing with a 27hp strong electric engine has a reduced fuel economy of only 3.6 liters per 100 km compared to 4.3 l / 100km in the C250. The entire lineup has a strong focus on efficiency and fuel economy with even the 333hp strong C400 reaching scores below 8 liter per 100 km.
Gearbox and Drivetrain
Two new six speed manual transmissions which allow for easier, more effortless gear changes are offered with the four cylinder engines. Additionally, Mercedes’ 7-speed G-Tronic Plus automatic transmission is offered. The gearbox has been further tuned for increased fuel efficiency. In the interior the design of the center console is significantly different between the manual and automatic C-classes. The automatic option clearly being our favorite.
As is the case with the rest of the car, Mercedes suspension system on the 2015 C-Class is all new. A four-link front suspension setup plays a major part in the agile and responsive handling characteristics. Mercedes has also developed an optional air suspension system for the C-Class, a first for the segment. The system uses variable damping to adjust the suspension between Comfort, Eco, Sport and Sport+ driving modes. For the C400 model, Airmatic air suspension comes standard.
It has to be said that Mercedes offers something completely new in this segment with the air suspension. The ride is smooth, although people with a sportier driving style might opt for the sports suspension for improved handling around corners and directer steering.
A slew of new technology is offered on the 2015 C-Class, starting with safety amenities. Mercedes standard Attention Assist system alerts drivers if they are becoming inattentive or drowsy. On motorways, the car will suggest points where the driver can stop to take a break and inform them of how long they have been driving since they last took a break.
Additionally, the C-Class features Adaptive Brake Assist, designed to slow the car down from speeds of up to 5mph in the event of a potential collision. Another system, Collision Prevention Assist Plus, will provide autonomous braking from speeds of up to 200 km/h, slowing down the car and reducing the severity of potential collisions.
Available options now offered are Distronic Plus with active steering, which will follow the car in front of you while in traffic, BAS Plus, a system that can detect crossing traffic and provide additional braking force and Enhanced Active Lane Keeping Assist which can prevent the vehicle from unintentionally drifting out of the lane.
Numerous assistance technologies make an appearance as options on the C-Class including Active Parking Assist, a 360 degree camera, Heads-up display, Traffic Sign Assist with wrong way alert and Adaptive Highbeam headlights.
On the inside Mercedes has taken its redesign job as serious as on the outside. The interior looks fresh and renewing. The central display looks a bit like an Ipad with a clear and convenient center console below it. The central turning wheel to navigate through the cars systems can now be extended with an optional touch screen to make controls of the system easier. The materials used look and feel very high quality – as you would expect to find on a high-end Mercedes.
The seats are comfortable but lack a bit of side support. In the rear there is enough space for two regular sized adults, but despite its significant increase in exterior dimensions the space for the rear passengers has only increased with 2 centimeters so don’t expect a huge difference compared to the previous model.
From a design standpoint, the 2015 C-Class is a big step away from its predecessor, borrowing design cues from Mercedes larger sedans, the E-Class and S-Class. The C-Class’ wheelbase has grown 80 millimetres, its also 40 millimetres wider and 98 millimetres longer, further differentiating it from the smaller CLA.
Customers may choose from three styles, Avantgarde, Exclusive and AMG line. In particular the radiator grilles differ from a sportier style grille with a centrally mounted Mercedes 3-point star for the Avantgarde and AMG-line and classic style grille with the Mercedes star on the bonnet for the exclusive line. Flaps on the grille act as active aerodynamics, closing when necessary for a smaller drag co-efficient and increased fuel efficiency.
The New Mercedes-Benz C-Class vs the Old C-Class
During our road test with the 2015 Mercedes-Benz C250 Bluetec we passed a previous generation C220. A good opportunity to see how the new C-Class compares to the last generation. As you can see from the pictures the new C-Class also looks considerably larger and looks much more stylish than the previous generation. Although its length and equipment increased, the new C-Class is 50kg lighter than the previous generation. The weight reduction is mainly thanks to extensive use of aluminium for the new C-Class.
The C-Class vs S-Class
The appearance of the new C-Class continues many similarities with that of its bigger S-Class brother. At first glance the C-Class brings a lot of S-Class to this segment, both in the exterior as in the interior. Back in January we put a brand new C220 next to the S550. The direct comparison in terms of styling is not entirely possible due to different specifications and quite basic equipment on the C220, noting that it is a development vehicle with over 10,000 kilometers on the clock, but overall putting the cars next to each other shows the similarities quite well.
Noteworthy is the number of systems that made its way from the S-Class down to the C-Class. Both safety as entertainment systems have found their way to the new C-Class which puts the new C-Class ahead in its class. However if you do like to spec your new C-Class like a little S-Class prepare to spend quite a bit of money on optional extras.
For our first driving experience with the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class we flew out to Marseille in France. At Marseille airport a full range of C-classes was waiting for us. We picked up the keys for a stunning silver C250 Bluetec with AMG line exterior. Our first stop was set at the Mediterranean coastal village of Cassis, a mere one hour drive over some of France most horrible roads. I can hear you think why set out a test route over some horrible roads? The answer is easy; to demonstrate the new Airmatic air suspension. Although the Airmatic system is an optional extra virtually every car in the fleet was riding on Airmatic.
So what is it like to drive than? It actually works very well and unlike any other suspension we have seen in this segment. It takes both long bumps and small holes with ease. Keeping the drive smooth and pretty quiet. It has to be said the 2 liter bluetec diesel engine in the C250 offers plenty of torque and great fuel economy. But it comes with a terrible diesel engine sound both in idle as on the road.
Making our way along winding roads and narrow tracks through villages in the South of France the 2015 Mercedes-Benz C250 Bluetec is quite a pleasant car to drive. It filters out most of the noise and inputs from outside. But the moment a clear stretch of country road opens up it imminently becomes clear that the emphasize on this new C-Class is on comfort and not on sport. Even when we shift the ‘Agility Mode’ to Sport+ the steering remains fairly indirect and the air suspension feels a bit to unconnected with the road despite coming down 15mm from the comfort mode. For more sport-oriented drivers the car screams for a sport suspension and directer steering. Both are available as optional extras but none of the available test cars had those equipped leaving us without a chance to test it.
On the performance side the C250 Bluetec offers plenty with 500Nm of torque it sprints away with ease. That being said we are very keen to see the engineers at Mercedes-AMG add their V8 to the mix. It is just a matter of time until a turbocharged V8 AMG model will complement the line-up. Back to our C250 Bluetec than. We leave the country roads and enter the highway towards the coast. On this bit of highway we can test some of the safety systems including blind spot detection and adaptive cruise control. Both are a pleasant addition to every daily driver and we already can’t live without it on our many autobahn journeys. Along with the adaptive cruise control comes a lane assist system we are familiar with from the S500 and E-Class. It actually helps you keep your lane by supporting the steering input. There are some limitations to the system so you have to keep your hands on the wheel mostly and it won’t be able to turn around tight bends, impressive and useful feature nonetheless.
A little while later we arrive in the coastal town of Cassis, a beautiful location for lunch and more importantly the starting point for a spectacular road up a nearby cliff. This road called ‘Route de Cretes’ connects Cassis with La Ciotat. With the highest point at 394 meter and a fairly limited distance it might not be the highest peak we ever reached or the longest mountain road we ever drove but with panoramic views in every direction its certainly worth the detour if you ever find yourself in the area.
It is along the Route de Cretes that we notice the new C-Class with AMG line is attracting quite a few looks from local and tourists alike. Thanks to the similar design to the S-Class it looks certainly more exclusive than its direct competitors. The design of both the exterior and interior of the new C is certainly a strong feat of the car. Of course personal taste plays an important role regarding the design but there is no denying Mercedes-Benz has taken a huge step forward with the new C-Class compared to its predecessor.
What to Spec?
As always we not only tested the general ride but also some key options on the option list of the new C-Class. Here are our recommendations:
7G-Tronic Plus: The 7-speed automatic gearbox offers smooth gear changes and much nicer interior due to the ‘free’ center console.
AMG Line Exterior: For those who have a sporty driving style. Not only will you get a sportier look, but the AMG Line exterior also includes the Sport Suspension and the Sport Direct Steering.
Airmatic: For those who prefer comfort. The C-Class is the first car in this segment to offer air suspension, it makes the ride pleasant and subtle. You can select four different modes from Eco+ to Comfort and Sport, Sport+ over the Agility Select button to make the ride harder or softer depending on what you want.
Comand Online: Make the most of your infotainment. Includes the 8.4″ display and WIFI hotspot.
Heads-up display: Never take your eyes off the road again, displays all important information include navigation directions, radio stations, current speed and more on the road in front of you.
Drive Assistance Package Plus: Includes adaptive cruise control, lane assist and other safety features. We can’t live without Adaptive Cruise and Lane Assist anymore!
The most obvious competitors in this segment are the BMW 3-Series and Audi A4. The BMW 3-Series offers a sportier ride but the new C-Class is no match for both the 3-Series and the A4 when it comes to comfort and luxury. If we were in the market for a new C-Class today, its not the 3-Series or A4 that would hold us back from ordering the C-Class but another car from the Mercedes-Benz line-up: The 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA! A GLA 250 offers a bit less luxury and comfort than the new C-Class but as a daily driver offers more character and a sportier ride.
The new Mercedes-Benz C-Class takes a huge step forward from its predecessor, from the new looks to the infotainment and safety systems alike. Its worthy of the ‘baby-S’ nickname and in certain aspects clearly sets the new benchmark in this segment. However it is clear that Mercedes-Benz emphasizes on comfort, sacrificing a sporty side that some customers might crave. With that said we can’t wait for an AMG version to show us the dark side of the new C-Class!