Despite the ever-increasing popularity of SUVs over the past two decades, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class continued to generate good sales volume; it is therefore not surprising that the manufacturer pays great attention to it, especially since it serves as the basis for the GLC. The C-Class has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide since its introduction in 1982 under the name Mercedes-Benz 190. The manufacturer is offering us a fifth generation this year; it is not a luxury, since the current one dates back to 2015
Sophisticated style, much more than sporty
Describing the new C-Class is quite simple: the car looks like a mini S-Class, both inside and out. The whole is visible by the flowing lines of the model whose front and back parts dip downwards, which creates an impression of movement. The passenger compartment is also moved back, one has the impression that the car has a more slender bonnet. The front grille remains very imposing and incorporates in its center the large emblem of the brand, no one can mistake it. My test vehicle benefited from the optional 19-inch wheels which added to the design; but, overall, the car is sober, especially with a white painted body. We will have to wait for the deliveries AMG to have a little more exuberance.
The model is larger than the old C-Class, with 63.5 millimeters (2.5 inches) more in length and 25.4 millimeters (1 inch) more on the wheelbase side. Its width is almost identical, it is however a little lower, which adds to its dynamism.
Only one version is offered at the moment, and that’s the sedan. C300 4Matic with a base price of $56,700 before shipping, an amount slightly higher than last year. A few sets can enhance its level of equipment and its style, expect to be tempted, but the bill will climb just as quickly as your enthusiasm.
A spectacular interior
While the exterior didn’t make my jaw drop when I made contact, the interior is much more spectacular. As soon as you open the door, you quickly notice the inspiration of the S-Class, and the effect is surprisingly successful, especially in the case of my test model because of its two-tone layout including the interior of the red leather doors and seats. The quality of the materials, the attention to detail and the quality of assembly are there, we are rarely disappointed at Mercedes-Benz. We have much less the impression of being inside an entry-level model, it is like being on board a more expensive Class.
The new interior is especially recognizable by the many technologies present. It’s hard to get past the five massive circular air vents that are mounted high up on the dash, but it’s mostly all the digital that catches the eye. The instrumentation is made up of a 12.9-inch screen arranged horizontally and which can be personalized, you will only need a master’s degree in computer science to fully understand all the features.
In the center is the 11.9-inch screen of the infotainment system; it’s mounted vertically and floats above the dashboard rather than being fully integrated into it. Simple to use, it allows you to display information from the second-generation MBUX system which, thanks to its “Hey Mercedes” voice assistant, allows you to control a little of everything on board and manage your trips quite simply, provided you have the discipline to learn the commands and, above all, to remember to use them.
The front seats provide a good degree of comfort, although a little firm during long rides, especially since I don’t have much reinforcement in the rear. Above all, the increased dimensions of the car make it possible to get a little more clearance for the rear passengers, in particular for the legs and shoulders.
A single mechanism, but electrified
Various powertrains are expected later in the C-Class, including a C43 AMG later this fall, but the car initially arrives with a single engine under the hood, a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder that develops 255 horsepower. horsepower and produces 295 lb-ft of torque. The engine benefits from new turbocharging technology developed in conjunction with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team, which reduces response time and maximizes the induction of fresh air.
The engine is mated to a 48-volt mild hybrid system that includes a starter-alternator. It adds 20 horsepower and, most importantly, 148 pound-feet of torque to the gasoline engine. In addition, it allows circulation in certain conditions without the contribution of the combustion engine.
Everything is paired with the only gearbox offered, a more compact and lightweight 9-speed automatic (30%), optimized specifically for a hybrid application. Since the model has the acronym 4Matic, we understand that all-wheel drive is standard, it distributes the torque with, in mind, optimal performance.
On the road
I was able to get behind the wheel of the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class in the New York area to cover a few hundred kilometers, enough to get a feel for the manufacturer’s latest version.
First observation, the 4-cylinder turbocharged engine deploys a good level of power, but it is its 295 lb-ft of torque that provides the desired effect, a good impression of power, as soon as you tickle the accelerator. Not only does the electric alternator provide extra torque, but the engine also has an Overboost mode that adds 20 horsepower for a short period. Even if it’s a 4-cylinder, a real sacrilege for a C-Class if we go back in time, I never felt like I was lacking in power, whether to overtake or to m insert in front of the heavy traffic of the New York area.
However, from the start, I also noticed that the brake pedal is spongy, you have to press hard and far to really feel the braking force, a feeling that is not necessarily pleasant.
The steering wheel offers good grip, its fairly large sausage reinforces the impression of control. It includes a multitude of commands, they are quite distracting, because it is often necessary to preselect their functions in another menu before using them. The head-up display system is also complete, but it is very large and contains a lot of information, which hindered visibility. As part of a regular test, I would have taken the time to refine it a bit.
I also found the suspension to be very soft, even in Sport+ mode; I would have preferred a little more firmness, but I understand that Mercedes-Benz is on the comfort side rather than the sportiness side, especially in the case of its base versions. Modes are primarily used to customize throttle and transmission responsiveness.
My test did not really validate the engine consumption figures properly, a more complete test will certainly allow us to do this and validate my first impressions of the model.
Mercedes-Benz has been able to modernize its C-Class and make it competitive in the segment by focusing mainly on on-board technologies. It takes a step in electrification with light hybridization technology, but Mercedes-Benz still leaves us on our appetite without announcement in terms of rechargeable or electric motorization. Only performance enthusiasts will find what they are looking for with the future AMGs.
Since the C-Class’s reliability hasn’t been flawless in recent years, we wouldn’t recommend buying it for at least a year, especially since it’s a new generation and is loaded with new technologies.
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