The all-new, front-wheel-drive CLA is priced at $30,825, including destination. It went on sale in September.
To widen the gap between the vehicles, Mercedes-Benz has equipped the C class -- a sales heavyweight in the brand's global lineup -- with a more upscale interior and added optional driver assistance packages for 2015.
The styling is crisper with more angles and slippery lines, giving the car the appearance of a baby S class. It will be the first car in its segment to have an optional air suspension, Mercedes says.
“In all, the perceived quality of the new C-class feels like an upgrade to a higher class of travel,” Mercedes-Benz said in a statement.
Pricing for the 2015 model hasn’t been announced. Pricing on the 2014 C250 sport sedan begins at $36,725.
The 2015 C-class four-door model will be built at Mercedes-Benz’s factory in Vance, Ala.
It will square off in a hotly contested segment -- compact luxury sedans -- that has grown 18 percent in the United States this year. The segment is led by the BMW 3 series, followed by the C class, Lexus ES, Infiniti G37 and Q60, new Cadillac ATS, and Audi A4.
Two all-wheel-drive models will be available initially in the United States -- the C300 4Matic with a 2.0-liter turbocharged direct-injection inline four-cylinder engine with 235 hp and 273 pounds-feet of torque, and the C400 4Matic with a 3.0-liter turbocharged direct-injection V-6 at 329 hp and 354 pounds-feet of torque.
They will be mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission.
The new C class is 220 pounds lighter, 3.7 inches longer and 1.6 inches wider than the current car and has increased luggage and cargo room.
It will be unveiled at the Detroit auto show in January.
The C class is the best-selling model worldwide for Mercedes-Benz. Since the current model was introduced in 2007, more than 2.4 million have been sold.
Through November, 81,022 C-class units have been sold in the United States, an increase of 10 percent over the same period last year. Also through November, 102,784 BMW 3-series sedans and 4-series coupes have been sold in the United States.
By expanding the C-class family, Mercedes hopes to gain a bigger share of the segment dominated by BMW.
The new sedan and coupe will be joined by an all-new convertible and a station wagon. The wagon isn’t expected to be sold in the United States.
The new C-class sedan will get upgraded and new driver assistance systems that debuted on the redesigned S class. Some of those systems will be optional and have been bundled into what Mercedes-Benz now calls Intelligent Drive.
They include Distronic Plus, a semiautomatic system that keeps the car at a safe distance from the vehicle in front at speeds under 27 mph. The Brake Assist System boosts brake force if the driver doesn’t apply the brakes. The Pre-Safe Brake system can detect stationary vehicles and pedestrians and brake automatically. The car also has optional Enhanced Lane Keeping and Active Parking Assist features.
The air suspension on the front and rear axles is standard on the awd C400. The driver can choose among Comfort, Eco, Sport and Sport + settings.
A head-up display is also optional and displays information on the front windshield, including speed, the speed limit, navigation, and messages from the Distronic Plus system.