All you need to know: New Mercedes-Benz C-Class
The Mercedes-Benz car to reckon with might be the E-Class but the C-Class is the next in line when it comes to popularity. The C-Class competes with the likes of the BMW 3 Series and the Audi A4 but it dominates sales in many markets. The Mercedes-Benz Bremen plant takes the lead in C-Class production but it will also be made in South Africa, USA and in China, where a long-wheelbase model in in the range - but not being considered for India despite the E-Class long wheelbase doing so well for Mercedes-Benz India. Mercedes-Benz says that five years in, the C-Class is its most successful model series with over 415,000 sedan and estate models sold.
Mercedes-Benz focussed on the front of the C-Class for this mid-life update. The sharpest changes are in the design of the headlight and the tail lamps. Halogen bulbs are listed as standard equipment in most markets still but LED DRLs are standard and LED as well as adaptive LED head lamps are on the options list. India is likely to get the LED head lamps as standard.
The new adaptive LED headlamps are being called MultiBeam LED by Mercedes-Benz. They include HighBeam Assist Plus which reads incoming traffic to prevent blinding anyone while maintaining long-distance illumination. At over 40kmph, with no oncoming traffic, the car turns on Ultra Range, the most powerful mode.
The grille between the headlamps is now the diamond grille - standard. Below are restyled new bumpers featuring a new silver trim strip (chrome alternatives are optional). The AMGs get their own front apron and at the rear, a 'diffuser-look insert'.
What's new: electronics
The refresh focusses on adding all the new-dangled gizmos you can think of. Mercedes-Benz says the user experience sits on a new electronics architecture that draws heavily on the acclaimed new S-Class. The interface for the driver and passengers centres on the two new high-resolution screens that power the instrument panel as well as the new 1920x720 floating display that sits over the aircon vents at the head of the centre console.
The new C 200 with EQ Boost
Mercedes-B enz replaces old 2.0-litre inline four with a new 1.5-litre four cylinder that uses the same block. The smaller engine uses EQ Boost, the Bosch 48v system that allows the smaller engine to improve economy while keeping peak power at 184PS. Peak torque is slightly lower at 280Nm (over a wider rev range, mind) but the EQ Boost system, a mild hybrid in effect, adds back 160Nm and 14PS. The thing to note is that the twin scroll turbo on the 1.5-litre engine uses the EQ Boost's torque output to fill in any gaps in thrust so that the car feels muscular and sprightly to drive rather than use it to boost performance. So the EQ Boost essentially cuts out turbo lag. Mercedes adds that the new 9G Tronic automatic transmissions also works faster and more efficiently as the EQ Boost helps the revs climb to the most effective zone faster. EQ Boost use a belt-drive motor/generator that also charges the battery during deceleration. The 48V battery itself is a small unit that Mercedes says will last the life of the car. Towards efficiency are other systems like a electric water pump which is electronically controlled.
And all-new is the 'gliding mode' where the engine coasts or is stopped on down hills to save fuel and recharge the batteries. Initial reviews say the engine restarts when needed but is so refined that you never feel the tell-tale signs of its restarting thanks for the belt-drive motor/generator.
In hardware terms, the new four-cylinder also uses the new conical honing process for the cylinder walls that opens the cylinder bore up towards the bottom - slightly - to cut friction at the piston skirt. All the C-Class petrol engines will now gain an expensive particulate filter in Europe and we are told that this expensive piece of equipment will not go to all markets - that, odds are, includes India.
The 2.0-litre version of this car, the C300 bring nearly 260PS and 370 Nm but isn't going to come to India. The C 200 is also available with Mercedes-Benz' 4MATIC all-wheel drive system, but that car isn't coming to India.
The diesels - C 200 d and C 300 d
The story of the new C-Class diesels starts with the new C 180 d that debuts the new 1.6-litre version of this current diesel family. This 122PS/300Nm engine isn't coming to India, though. Mercedes says this family receives work on friction losses by adding lighter steel pistons with shorter skirts, longer connecting rods with slimmer bearing and more. Mercedes also saves 10kg be eliminating the Lanchester balancing shafts.
Mercedes also does conical honing for the diesel engine's bores. Net result, the new C 200 d weighs about 16 per cent less, now displaces under 2,000cc and still delivers 194PS which is a small jump over the outgoing engine. Peak torque is 400Nm from 1,600 to 2,800rpm. The C 200 d also gets the 9G Tronic transmission. Mercedes-Benz claims a 0-100kmph time of 6.9 seconds and a top speed of 240kmph.
Unfortunately, as we write this, Mercedes-Benz has not revealed the final specification of the 245-odd PS 300d and we have to wait for that.
The Mercedes-AMG C 43
The AMG C 43 with its biturbo V6 will also come to India. Mercedes-AMG says the highlights of the engine are how quickly the turbos respond and the blend of performance and efficiency the new cars gain from that. The C-Class' 3.0-litre V6 gains 23PS to hit 390PS with a peak 520Nm torque that arrives at 2,500rpm and stays till 5,000rpm.
With the 4MATIC all-wheels drive system as standard, the AMG C 43 sedan will hit 100kmph in 4.7 seconds and carry on to its electronically limited 250kmph top speed. Transmission duties are handed to the AMG Speedshift TCT 9G featuring model-specific algorithms and AMG adds, very fast gearchanges. The all-wheel drive is standard equipment for the Mercedes-AMG C 43, and features rear-biased torque distribution with a front/rear axle split of 31 to 69 percent.
Interior and features
The C-Class interior takes inspiration from the S-Class and Mercedes uses the upmarket feel to full effect. There is the usual wood inlays and the colour and material selection options. You get a new start-stop button as well as new seats on the C-Class. If you opt for it, you get the fully adjustable seats with lumbar and bolsters being adjustable and massages being offered.
The dominant feature, of course, is the new screen. Mercedes uses two touch panels with haptic feedback to control the instruments and the centre screen, respectively and there are no touchscreens, still.
The instrument cluster is a 5.5" colour screen 383x600 pixels and a full digital display (1920x720, 12.3-inches) is optional. The centre screen comes in 7" (960x540) and 10.25" (1920x720) sizes. Mercedes-Benz also adds touch sensitive controls on the steering wheel that you can swipe and moves the cruise control and Distronic functions to button on the steering eliminating the stalk.
What's new: Active Safety
The C-Class gains the full suite of assistance systems including some semi-autonomous capability. Some of these functions, naturally, will not work in India where lane markings and other infrastructure are unpredictable and hard for sensors to read and interpret accurately. The new Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC uses maps and navigation data to do many things including handle speeds for turns, junctions as well as roundabouts. The car can also handle lane changes on its own and make emergency stops if needed. Active Brake Assist is now standard on the C-Class which helps mitigate rear-end collisions, or ideally prevent them. The standard Audio 20 multimedia system gets two USB ports, an SD Card reader, Bluetooth and the updated COMAND Online is optional.
What's new: Adjustable suspension packages
The new C-Class has a suspension system with selective damping as standard that basically adjusts damping and stabilisation continuously as per the road surface. The optional DYNAMIC BODY CONTROL package features continuously adjustable damping for each wheel, depending on the vehicle speed and driving conditions. The system also adjusts damping based on the driving mode that's selected using the Dynamic Select switch. Sport+ and Sport mode will have the suspension set to the firmer end of the range while Comfort, as the name suggests will increase damping for better ride.
In cars with DYNAMIC BODY CONTROL Mercedes-Benz also offers Sports Direct-Steer system for precise and agile steering. The AIR BODY CONTROL is the top-shelf suspension that besides adjusting damping at each wheel also adapts to different load conditions. This is particularly useful when you are driving with a full house and a loaded trunk.
An optional Sports suspension package lowers the ride height by 15mm and gets stiffer spring and damper settings for a tauter setup. This package is aimed at those who are primarily looking for precise handling over comfort.
Mercedes-Benz plans to launch the new C-Class in India around October. On the roster are three C-Class cars and one, maybe two AMGs. The C 200 petrol is set to be the petrol option with the C 220d and the C300d tipped to carry the diesel baton. The Mercedes-AMG C 43 sedan will also come to India while discussions are on as to whether or not the C 43 Coupe should also be brought to India or not. Stay tuned for a driving impression shortly!
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