2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class First Drive

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2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sedan

(2.0L 4-cyl. Turbo 7-speed Automatic)
  • 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

    2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

    With a new lightweight body and a strong V6 under the hood, the new C-Class feels athletic despite its larger size. | March 10, 2014

17 Photos

Setting New Standards for Luxury Sport Sedans

When it's time to brag about the new 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class, the engineers who worked on the redesigned sedan will have plenty to talk about. They'll point to the engineering leaps that the car has taken in safety systems, adopting technologies that were unveiled in the S-Class just months ago. They will point to powertrains that have increased fuel mileage by up to 20 percent. They'll point to a chassis structure that is now 50 percent aluminum.

They will point until their fingers get arthritis, but the key point is that there has never been a Mercedes-Benz with an interior that has come this far, this fast. Even in the new S-Class, Mercedes uses a handful of plastic buttons. Not so in the C-Class; it's that good.

2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Feels Bigger Because It Is
The impression of improvement starts with an airy feel from the driver seat, continues with stunning construction and finishes it off with buttons and switchgear that feel like top-quality pieces. The C-Class instantly reeks of solidity and luxury, of deeply detailed thinking and painstaking execution.

There's a reason it feels so spacious. It's bigger in almost every dimension. The wheelbase has been stretched by 3 inches while the overall length is up by 3.7 inches. This C-Class is 1.6 inches wider, too. Even the trunk has grown to a sizable 17 cubic feet.

The C-Class has all the hallmarks of an all-new sedan built on an all-new platform. There is less weight overall, roughly 220 pounds by Mercedes' count, and a new four-link front and five-link rear suspension to support it. There is also an aerodynamic package that delivers a level of acoustic comfort unparalleled in this class. There is no wind noise (at all) at 50 mph and precious little beyond that.

2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Smaller Engines With Bigger Bites
Both the base four-cylinder C300 and the more powerful V6-powered C400 will arrive with standard all-wheel drive. Later on, a rear-wheel-drive C300 will be added along with an ultrahigh-performance C63 AMG.

We spent our time in the C400, which boasts 329 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque from its turbocharged 3.0-liter V6. It has all the strength the numbers suggest and does its best work between 1,600 and 4,000 rpm, which makes it feel extra punchy around town. It doesn't need its neck wrung every time you want it to go anywhere, and while the turbo is obviously helping it breathe all the time, it does so unobtrusively until you really ask it to hustle.

The core V6 isn't as smooth as the rest of the chassis, though, particularly when it's under stress. At full throttle and high revs, it can feel a bit coarse compared to an inline-6, but it's so strong that it mostly doesn't need to work that hard.

The standard seven-speed automatic transmission slips cleanly through its gears, but it's even better when you select one of the Sport modes through the console switch. Besides providing more haste to the downshifts, they also tighten the electromechanical steering. That's helpful, because the steering is imprecise and a bit too floaty in its default mode.

2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Air Suspension Invades a New Segment
For the first time in this segment, Mercedes is offering an optional air suspension in place of the standard steel coil spring setup. Like the transmission, it can be stiffened up in Sport mode or softened in Comfort mode. It has enormous reserves of grip when you push it and can punch through a mountain canyon with all the assurance you could hope to muster. It's better to be in either of the Sport modes to get the best gearshifting out of it, not just the most dumb-proof handling.

Not surprisingly, the C400 rides best in Comfort mode, though it can get some strange rear-end tosses over lateral bumps. They disappear in Sport mode, but at the expense of a ride that feels about 10 percent stiffer.

There are all manner of assistance systems, as Benz figures out ever more creative ways of writing software code that ties all of its sensors (sonar, radar, stereo, camera, etc.) together. In addition to all the latest stability, traction and collision avoidance systems, the C-Class even has electronic minders for the climate controls. Approach a tunnel, for instance, and it automatically switches to recirculate to keep the stuffy air out.

2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Leaves Nothing Untouched
Like the rest of the car, the features available inside the C-Class are all at the forefront of technology. Mercedes' latest multimedia system debuts on this car with a larger screen and an even crisper display. There's an optional Burmester audio system and connected user interface that offers up to 20 different apps.

With so much at your disposal, the C-Class doesn't leave you wanting for much. Its spaciousness up front is nearly matched by the accommodations in back. There's top-level trim no matter where you're seated, and the burly V6 assures there's plenty of power to get things moving quickly even if there are four adults on board.

It left us wondering who will bother to upgrade to the midsize E-Class. It's only marginally larger, and the C-Class now handily trumps the larger Benz in terms of the look and feel of the cabin. And what of the direct competitors from Audi, BMW and Cadillac? They should be on notice as well, because this Benz is a huge step forward in the history of the C-Class, one that might finally put it in a position to dominate the class.

Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.

Most Recommended Comments

By grover432
on 03/11/14
8:12 AM PST

That navigation screen looks ridiculous. It looks like it is ready to fall off its perch and it isn't orientated towards the driver.

Recommend  (27) (50)

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