There’s a lot of shuffling going on at Mercedes-Benz these days. New models, a new naming scheme, and with that, a new hierarchy. With the CLA now taking on the entry-level sedan spot, the always reliable C-Class has its status moved a bit more upmarket. So does this all-new “C” get bumped all the way up to first class, or is it now more economy plus?
The Mercedes-Benz C-class has indeed had a tough task, anchoring entry-level duties here in the U.S., while also maintaining its status as the brand’s top selling model. But thanks to an expanded line-up, the 2015 C-Class now has the ability to come into its own, so to speak, and embrace its inner luxury car.
Our C300 4MATIC sedan gets things off to a good start with the smoothest turbo I4 we’ve yet driven. The 2.0-liter’s 241-horsepower slides it in between BMW and Cadillac’s 2.0-liter turbo-4s, but its 273 lb-ft. of torque bests them both. A 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 is also available; and both get down the road with 7-speed automatics.
Getting down our test track took 14.8-seconds, clearing the ¼-mile at 93 miles-per hour. Full auto shifts are head snapping strong with good power from the engine all the way to redline.There was a touch of wheel spin at launch, but no noticeable turbo lag as we dashed to 60 in 6.6-seconds. Engine noise if fairly subdued, and the exhaust has a sporty but not vicious note.
Despite a serious burning smell and feel that was not befitting of a true luxury car, stopping distances from 60 were actually very good, averaging just 114-feet and it was very stable.
Things felt much more luxury minded through our slalom course, but the C300 is still a very capable handler. The suspension sees a big upgrade, with new independent 4-link hardware up front and 5-link in the rear.
Mercedes also brings their AIRMATIC suspension down to the C-Class with settings for Comfort, ECO, Sport, and Sport+, but even in its sportiest setting, there’s notable body roll.
The biggest hindrance to our handling fun was our test car’s Continental ContiSport tires that didn’t seem up to the task of gripping what the chassis was capable of delivering. Because of that the C will probably lose every comparison it gets lumped into. But the more time you spend in it, the less you care about that; as you are very relaxed, comforted, and wondering why everyone’s in such a big hurry anyway?
So while it may still fall short of rivals such as the 3 Series and ATS in the handling department, it out-luxuries them for sure.
The level of interior refinement, a noticeable weak spot in the previous C, has gotten vastly better, appearing more S-Class than anything else. There’s great finish to all of the materials, and much to love about the tasteful blend of modern and classic design.
Most trim work looks way above price point, the piano black a noticeable exception as it was already scratched up in our test car. Most found the seats comfy, with plenty of room up front for a compact, but even with 3-inches of additional wheelbase, rear seat room remains tight.
And there was certainly room to grow as the previous C-Class was actually shorter in length than the CLA; and indeed every dimension has been increased.
As before, two faces are available, a classic design with traditional grille in the Luxury line; and the large logoed grille of the Sport line.
Overall, and despite a lot of S-Class styling hints, the “C” design is not very exciting. Most of our crew found it rather boring. But it is classy and such “understated elegance” is probably just what Mercedes-Benz had in mind.
A majority of the new S-Class’s safety features are available here as well, including Collision Prevention Assist Plus which brought us to a halt flawlessly in our low speed barrier test.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for our C300 4MATIC are 24-City, 31-Highway, and 27-Combined. We averaged just under that with 26.7 miles-per-gallon of Premium. And that makes a better than average Energy Impact Score with the burning of 12.2-barrels of oil, and annual CO2 emissions of 5.5-tons.
Base pricing of $39,325 appears reasonable, a bit less so is the turbo-V6 powered C400, which starts at $49,515, and our heavily equipped C300 4MATIC tester’s $53,720 sticker seemed a little steep to us at first. However, factoring in the amount of luxury Mercedes-Benz has been able to cram into this car makes all of those numbers seem almost like a bargain.
A coupe and of course AMG versions are available as well.
Mercedes-Benz considers their flagship S-Class the greatest car in the world. We think the C-Class might be considered a great runner-up. Clearly, with the 2015 C-Class, Mercedes-Benz has placed a huge priority on making it more luxurious, and carefully increasing its size so it’s a lot more fitting for a lot more people. Indeed, it’s a first class upgrade that will keep this C flying high.
Engine: 2.0 liter
Torque: 273 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 6.6 seconds
1/4 mile: 14.8 seconds @ 93 mph
EPA: 24 mpg city/ 31 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 12.2 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 5.5 tons/yr