Mercedes moves C class up and away from CLA
With standout styling and features, the C looks like a baby S
SEATTLE -- Bolder, bigger and more luxurious.
The new-generation C-class sedan moves up in price, size and features because it's no longer the entry car into the Mercedes-Benz lineup.
Styling is racier; the 2015 C class looks like a baby S-class sedan. The interior uses high-grade materials and softer leather and has a more upscale center console. The central display screen is either a standard 7 inches or 8.4 inches with the optional Comand infotainment system.
The wheelbase has been lengthened by 3 inches; the car is 4 inches longer and 1.5 inches wider than the current model. Those dimensions make it more than 2 inches longer than the entry CLA front-wheel-drive sedan and the BMW 3-series sedan, the chief rival to the C class.
To make this larger car agile and sporty, Mercedes gave it an aluminum hybrid body that is 154 pounds lighter than conventional steel. Lightweight construction shaved a total of 200 pounds off the 2015 model compared with the current car.
The C300 4Matic and C400 4Matic with all-wheel drive will go on sale next month followed by the base C300 with rear-wheel drive in the first quarter of 2015.
The basics: The C-class sedan moves up in features and size to position it further away from the year-old CLA. Mercedes-Benz is targeting the car at the 35- to 45-year-old young professional.
The car is priced higher than the BMW 3 series because the addition of new features allows Mercedes to charge a premium, brand executives said.
The sedan will be followed by a coupe and convertible -- developed as separate vehicles. The current coupe was quickly re-engineered off the sedan. A hybrid and diesel also will be rolled out by 2017.
Notable features: The C class has optional Intelligent Drive safety and navigation features from the year-old S-class sedan. Bart Herring, product manager for Mercedes-Benz USA, said the car is networked so that "it senses to set you up to make better decisions or assist to keep you out of danger."
Collision prevention and attention assist are standard. The car also has standard keyless start and a touchpad above the infotainment controller.
The C class also has optional air suspension on the front and rear axles to electronically control the suspension, improve road holding and reduce tire vibration. The feature automatically levels the car, even when it's loaded. Mercedes says no other competitor in the class offers the feature.
What Mercedes-Benz says: "The C class will do significantly better because we have brought a new direction to the table," said Steve Cannon, Mercedes-Benz USA CEO.
Shortcomings and compromises: The C-class sedan is so well equipped and is such a head-turner that it could cannibalize sales of the larger and more profitable E-class sedan.
The market: The C class is Mercedes' volume model and competes against the BMW 3 series, Audi A4, Infiniti Q50 and Cadillac ATS.
The skinny: Mercedes-Benz is considerably ahead of the competition with the new C-class sedan, and when the other models are added, it could very well upset the current king -- the BMW 3/4 series. The new C class really is a baby S class.
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