Brand unveils details of next-generation sedan ahead of Detroit auto show debut

Mercedes says new C class will be lighter and have better fuel economy

Brand unveils details of next-generation sedan ahead of Detroit auto show debut

The new lightweight body structure of the fourth-generation C class will contribute to a 20 percent reduction in fuel consumption in some models.
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Mercedes-Benz has revealed limited details about its fourth-generation C-class sedan, more than two months before it is due to make its world debut at the Detroit auto show.

Mercedes says the new C class will be a significantly more advanced car than its predecessor in terms of construction, with a "best in class" weight figure and a level of structural integrity that it describes as being unparalleled in its class.

The C class will have a new lightweight body structure with a newly developed aluminum hybrid construction process that the automaker claims will shave as much as 100 kg (220 pounds) over the current model depending on the engine it uses. A lighter weight is said to contribute to a 20 percent reduction in fuel consumption on certain models without any loss in power.

The reduction in weight is credited to a new structure that uses up to 48 percent aluminum -- up from 9 percent on the outgoing third-generation C class. The amount of hot-formed steel and high-strength steel has also risen by 5 percent and 1 percent to 8 percent and 4 percent, respectively.

The new C-class body structure consists of nine primary cast components, with the suspension mounted on aluminum die-cast elements that are claimed to be significantly more rigid than the steel components used today. Newly developed hydroformed tube and aluminum cast components are claimed to provide the new sedan with outstanding test results in NHTSA crash testing procedures in the United States.

As well as receiving radically different construction, the fourth-generation C class also uses a newly developed chassis consisting of a new four-link front and five-link rear suspension that is claimed to provide what Mercedes describes as "unsurpassed wheel location qualities," "supreme straight line stability" and "outstanding NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) qualities."

The new arrangement uses a greater number of aluminum components, saving 2 kg (4.4 pounds) in the front end alone. It will come with the choice of three states of tune: Comfort, Direct Control and Sport -- the latter of which receives a 15.24mm (0.6 inch) reduction in ride height.

Meanwhile, Mercedes has confirmed the new C class will be offered with an optional Airmatic air suspension in combination with selected engines.

The new set-up allows the driver to choose between Comfort, ECO, Sport and Sport Plus modes to vary the firmness of the dampers. It also provides an automatic self-leveling feature that lowers the car at highway speeds for improved aerodynamics and added fuel economy.

Mercedes has also revealed the new C class will receive a thoroughly reworked interior featuring optional head-up display, a fingertip-controlled touch pad within the center console and a free standing central display featuring a standard 7-inch or optional 8.4-inch color monitor.

Other new features are a clever new air conditioning system that relies on GPS data to detect tunnels and automatically close the air recirculation flap in order to prevent fume-filled air from entering the cabin and a front passenger seat that uses a sensor to detect the use of any child seat and automatically disengage the front passenger airbag.

You can reach Greg Kable at autonews@crain.com.


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