Unlike Beyonce’s surprise album that went on sale with no notice last week, the all-new 2015 C-Class has emerged after a years-long striptease of spy shots and coy corporate pontifications. Finally, all the camo is off and details are pouring forth on Mercedes’ new compact luxury sedan.
Whether or not you’ve seen any of the shy shots, the C-Class’s design should present absolutely zero styling surprises. Some 3.7 inches longer and 1.6 inches wider, with a three-inch longer wheelbase, the C-Class takes a longer, more elegant countenance than before, yet, thanks to use of high-strength steel and aluminum throughout, it tips the scales 220 pounds lighter. The tapering sheetmetal and front and rear styling give it “sensual clarity,” according to Mercedes, and appears for all the world like a 4/5-scale model of the all-new S-Class flagship which debuted earlier this year.
Interior styling evokes that other 2014 Mercedes debutant, the tiny CLA-Class, with its stand-up COMAND screen and quintet of metal-ringed air vents poking out from the dashboard. Open-pore wood trim, contrast stitching, a flat-bottom steering wheel and more space help the C-Class’ interior theme appear more convincingly upscale than in its pipsqueak front-drive sibling. Trickle-down tech and comfort features from high-end Benzes include various semi-autonomous driving and parking assistance features, available Bumester audio, touch-pad character input for the infotainment system, all-LED lighting and, yes, an air fragrance infuser, à la S-Class.
Behind the three-pointed star will be a choice of a 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 235 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque in the C300, or a 3-liter turbocharged V-6 pumping out a healthy 329 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque in the C400, both mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission. The C will also offer the segment’s first air suspension as an option, above the standard and 0.6-inch-lower sport suspensions.
The public will get its first look at the new C-Class at the North American International Auto Show in January, with sales beginning in September 2014. All America-sold C-Class sedans will be assembled at Mercedes’ Tuscaloosa, Ala., assembly plant, and initially, will feature Mercedes’ 4MATIC all-wheel-drive (d’ya hear that, Audi?) A rear-wheel-drive C300 sedan should arrive the following spring, about the same time we will get the next-generation of the crazy-fast C63 AMG sedan. The next-generation C-Class coupe and new C-Class cabriolet models will appear in a steady cadence after that.
With the CLA-Class now the cheapest Benz model at about $30,000, the C-Class will probably rise in price, though not too much: expect the C300 4Matic to start around $37,000, with well-appointed models rising up into the mid-$50,000 range.