2015 Mercedes C-Class Demonstrates How the Baby Benz Has Grown Up

With the redesigned 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class, the automaker moves what has commonly been called the Baby Benz upmarket in terms of size and equipment, to compete in what the company calls the "premium mid-range" class of vehicles. Initially, the redesigned 2015 C-Class will be available as a C300 and a C400, each equipped with standard 4Matic all-wheel drive (AWD).

Though the first versions to arrive in showrooms will have AWD, the new 2015 C-Class retains classic rear-drive styling and dimensions, including a long hood, short trunk, minimal overhangs, and a passenger compartment mounted further back on the chassis than what is seen with the new entry-level Mercedes model--the CLA-Class. Don't take this to mean that the new C-Class isn't roomy. It is longer and wider than before, with a bigger interior and a larger trunk than the outgoing 2014 model.

Inside, Mercedes says it has styled the new C-Class to mimic the look of its sports cars, layering leather, wood, and cool-touch metallic surfaces with premium materials. An optional Multi-Media package contains a larger, 8.4-inch touch-screen infotainment system that floats at the top of the dashboard, covered in the same kind of glass used for popular tablet computers. The C-Class includes mBrace2 connectivity and telematics services, and is offered with Mercedes-Benz Apps and a haptic-feedback COMAND controller that responds to finger gestures and can recognize handwritten commands issued using a touchpad.

In addition to these features and both Frontbass and Burmeister premium audio systems, the new C-Class can be optioned with an AirBalance cabin fragrance system and a panoramic glass roof. A long list of Intelligent Drive safety systems is also offered for the 2015 C-Class, including Attention Assist, Collision Prevention Assist, Adaptive Brake Assist, Steering Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Park Assist, and Traffic Sign Assist with Wrong-Way Alert.

The new 2015 Mercedes C300 is equipped with a turbocharged, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine making an estimated 235 horsepower and 273 lb.-ft. of torque. A turbocharged, 3.0-liter V-6 is standard for the new 2015 Mercedes C400, preliminarily rated to make 329 horsepower and 354 lb.-ft. of torque. Both engines are paired with a 7-speed automatic transmission and the automaker's 4Matic AWD system.

A Direct Steer electric steering system is standard equipment, and the suspension systems on the new C-Class have been redesigned. A sport-tuned suspension is standard for the C300 Sport and C400 Sport models. It is firmer and riding more than one-half inch lower than the suspension fitted to the C300 Luxury and C400 Luxury models. In addition to having different suspension tuning, the Sport versions of the new C-Class get unique styling including a Mercedes star emblem that is embedded in the grille rather than displayed as a stand-up hood ornament. An AirMatic air suspension is optional, and offers Eco, Comfort, Sport, and Sport+ settings.

The 2015 Mercedes C-Class goes on sale in the fall of 2014. Pricing will be announced closer to the car's arrival in dealer showrooms.

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