2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class
The best in class
Date Posted: December 12, 2014
By Zack Spencer
Mercedes Benz is moving away from a conservative brand appealing to older buyers, to an exciting brand for young professionals. The new C-Class is a big part of this
Okay, right of the bat, this is one of the best cars I have driven in the past year. From the way the new C-Class looks to the feel of the interior and the performance and composure it displays on the road, all come together in a way they should make any buyer in the compact luxury sedan class take notice.
And this car has to be right. To say that the C-Class is important to Mercedes-Benz is an understatement. The reality is that this car that makes up the bulk of Mercedes sales, with the previous model selling 2.4 million units worldwide.
New for 2015 is a larger but lighter body, two new engines, a refined interior and advanced driving aids. Let’s start with the body. The proportions are very good, with a long hood and short overhangs, plus the front is much more aggressive and the back even has an S-Class inspired taillight cluster. It all comes together to provide much more visual punch, compared to the last, rather sedate looking C-Class. The wheelbase is longer, as is the overall length, plus it is a tad wider but the 2015 C-Class is lighter by almost 100kg. This makes the car more comfortable and more efficient.
Inside is where the magic really happens. The interior of this latest car is now the benchmark for all other compact luxury sedans. Sure, some people might not like the centre screen that looks like an iPad bolted onto the dash, but the rest of the interior is first rate. It all starts with a wide and highly polished looking gloss centre cluster, with aviation inspired aluminum toggle switches and jet engine looking air vents. Above the centre console is the screen that is 7-inches on base model cars and 8.4-inches if the car comes with navigation. Between the front seats is a controller that lets the driver interact with the infotainment screen in two ways. The first is the wheel that Mercedes has been using for a several years now. This is called the Comand Controller and it works the same way it always has. But floating above that is a new touchpad that allows the driver to control the system the same way as the wheel but it can be done in swipe gestures, the same way we all use our smartphones. The driver can even trace a letter or number on the pad and it will help load numbers or letters into the address book or navigation system. Clever stuff. The rest of the dash is covered with fine looking and feeling materials, and the front seats are very supportive and comfortable. Put it this way, you get your moneys worth. The back seat is larger, thanks to the added wheelbase but this isn’t the biggest car in this class, it is always best to double check the rear seat requirements before signing on the dotted line.
The previous models of the C-Class were always very well made cars but, to be honest, a bit dull to drive. Well, that has all changed with the new C300 and C400. The platform is lighter and there are two new engines available, making for some smiles behind the wheel. The base engine is a 2.0L direct injection turbocharged 4-cylinder. On this front Mercedes is just catching up to BMW and Audi who have had these small engines for years. This new power plant puts out 241hp, the exact number the rival BMW 328i. The car I tested was the more powerful C400 with another new engine, a 3.0L V6 also with direct injection and turbocharging. This is good for 329hp, more then the 300hp BMW 335.
Power is one thing, but getting it to the ground and returning that road feel to the driver is all-important and this is the biggest change for this new car. Mercedes puts the power through a 7-speed automatic to all four wheels, 4Matic all wheel drive (AWD) system is standard on all models, providing added traction and cornering ability. Then taking advantage of the lighter and stiffer platform with a wonderful steering feel makes the driver feel very connected to the car and the road. On higher trim level cars there is also an air suspension that lets the driver dial in just the right amount of comfort or sportiness. I found the sport mode was the best setting for my tastes. There are also setting for the aggressiveness of the throttle response and steering input. It all works wonderfully.
With a staring price of $43,000 for the C300 and $51,400 for the C400, these two models are roughly $3000 cheaper than the equivalent BMW sedans. This and the way the whole package comes together, makes for a very compelling choice in this segment. One advantage BMW has now is the availability of a diesel engine but there will be a diesel engine coming in the C-Class shortly.
Mercedes has thrown down a challenge to the main rivals BMW, Audi, Lexus and Infiniti. This is the freshest and most compelling Mercedes I’ve driven, the styling and interior are now much more appealing and the handling is a huge improvement. Let’s see what the others do in the years to come but for now this is one of the best cars I’ve driven all year.
Power: 2.0L 4-cylinder with 241hp or 3.0L V6 with 329hp
Economy: 11.1L/8.4L/100km (city/highway)
Sticker price: $43,000-$51,400
This is the freshest and most compelling Mercedes I’ve driven