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Mercedes C-Class is sharp and sexy

The new generation Mercedes C-Class that was unveiled recently is sharply styled and loaded with features. But will it raise the bar in the premium entry-level sedan market? AMIT CHHANGANI finds out

The highly anticipated and much awaited new Mercedes-Benz C-Class was globally revealed recently — and with its exciting new design and features, the new iteration of the bestselling sedan seems to have more than lived up to its promise. In its latest avatar, the popular Mercedes sedan gets bigger, bolder and more technology laden than ever.

In its latest edition, the C-Class has increased substantially in size. At 2840mm, the wheelbase is a good 80mm longer as compared to the previous gen version. The new C-Class is also 95 mm longer and 40 mm wider. The benefits of this increase will be reaped primarily by the rear passengers, who’ll get much better leg and shoulder room. At 480 litres, the boot is bigger than the previous version too.

While the size has increased, use of lightweight materials has reduced the car’s weight by as much as 100 kg! The use of aluminium has risen from 10 percent in the current model to almost 50 percent in the new version, and has helped tremendously in achieving making the car lighter.

Design
Though progressive in its approach, the new C-class tries to add dynamism and tension on its exterior surfaces and lines in abundance. A sharper front end with brand new headlights and a stubbier boot lends the car a very front-forward, dynamic character. New bumpers, air dams and exhaust ends also help establish the sportier intentions of the new sedan.

The new C-Class comes with advanced H7 halogen headlamps as standard. However, the car can also be specified with optional LED lighting system. The tail lights feature LED technology on all variants.

In profile, the new C-class is defined by a long and sharp bonnet, with a pushed back passenger compartment, and short overhangs for a planted, aggressive look. The sporty stance is further complemented by the big wheels.

Cabin design and features
The interior of the new Mercedes C-Class is representative of the brand’s new approach to the interior design theme. Bristling with freshness, and boasting use of high quality materials, the interior of the new C-Class looks really exciting. A centrally positioned seven-inch screen is the highlight across the centre console. The screen grows in size to 8.4 inches if you order the COMAND Online system with the car, which enables digital TV/radio reception and a host of other features. Audio and video playback is possible from various sources, e.g. Bluetooth, Aux-in, SD card, USB or CD/DVD. A Burmester surround sound system is optionally available.

When it comes to air-conditioning, the new C-Class amazes with its GPS controlled recirculation control.

It uses the map information from the navigation system and the GPS location data to close the air recirculation flap automatically when the vehicle enters a tunnel, subsequently re-opening it when the vehicle emerges from the tunnel.

Another interesting feature within the cabin is the innovative touchpad over the central controller knob.

This touch unit provides for a very intuitive operation of all the central screen functions using finger gestures — modern smartphone style. You can draw letters, numbers and special characters with your fingers on the pad in any language.

You also get a HUD (Head-up display) for the first time in the C-Class. Emulating jet fighters, the system can display important information like vehicle speed, speed limits and navigation instructions.

Engine and transmission
Initially the new Mercedes C-Class will be available with a choice of three engines — one diesel powered and two gas-propelled. The C220 BlueTEC is a 2.2 liter diesel with 170bhp and 400Nm of torque. The C180 is a 1.6 liter petrol unit unit with 156bhp and 250Nm of torque. Finally, the C200 petrol produces 184 bhp and 300 Nm of torque. All the versions come equipped with the ECO start/stop function and comply with the Euro 6 emissions standard.

At a later point, Mercedes-Benz will introduce more engines to the C-Class range. These will include a small 1.6 litre diesel and an advanced version of the proven 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel engine in several output variants.

Finally, there will be the BlueDIRECT petrol engines with third-generation direct injection. There will also be some hybrid powertrains to complete the lineup.

Transmission duties for the India bound car will be taken care of by the 7G-TRONIC PLUS automatic transmission, which is the advanced version of the smooth and responsive 7G-TRONIC 7-speed
automatic gearbox.

Suspension
The New C-Class features a new 4 link independent front suspension. The 4-link front independent unit is fully decoupled from the spring strut for more grip and higher lateral stability, and sporty feel. At the rear, the car has 5-link independent suspension for fantastic straight-line stability.

The new C-Class is the first vehicle in its segment that can be fitted with an air suspension (AIRMATIC) on the front and rear axles. This endows the car with the ability to stiffen or loosen its suspension dynamically, at the press of the button. The driver can use the AGILITY SELECT switch to choose between the various characteristics: “Comfort”, “ECO”, “Sport” and “Sport+”. The additional “Individual” option enables drivers to configure their vehicle according to their own wishes. AIRMATIC also features all-round self-levelling for optimum ride comfort even when the vehicle is loaded.

The current gen C-Class has been showing its age of late. The competition offers more space inside, and more features too. In that light, the new generation C-Class shows tremendous promise and is probably going to create some new benchmarks for the segment. Expect the new C-Class to hit the Indian showrooms by mid 2014 at a slightly higher price than the current gen model.

Spect-tacular

The new C-Class hosts a really rich set of safety and driver assistance systems, some of which have descended down from the bigger and more expensive E and S Class saloons. Here’s a quick roundup of all these features including standard and optional equipment.

> Attention Assist: Warns the driver of drowsiness based on a whole bunch of input parameters and suggests a break
> Adaptive Brake Assist: Helps prevents collisions from speeds as low as 8 km/h
> Collision Prevent Assist Plus: In case of an imminent collision, the system carries out autonomous braking at speeds of up to 125 mph. The system also responds on detecting stationary vehicles, and can prevent rear-end collisions
> Active Parking Assist: Automated parking with active steering and brake intervention
> 360 degree camera: Shows all the surroundings of the vehicle, including a bird’s eye view
> Traffic Sign Assist: Reads traffic signs and warns you if you’re violating any limit or restriction
> Adaptive Highbeam Assist Plus: Allows you to keep the high-beam on permanently, without dazzling oncoming traffic
> Distronic Plus: At speeds less than 50 kmph allows the car to follow the vehicle ahead autonomously
> Brake Assist Plus: Can detect crossing traffic and boosts the braking force if the driver fails to apply the brakes sufficiently
> Active Lane Keeping Assist: Keeps the vehicle in a designated lane, can also prevent the vehicle from unintentionally drifting out of lane when broken lane markings apply
> In addition to all this, the new C-Class also features a whole array of airbags for passive safety, including an innovative pelvis bag for the front driver and passenger, and a knee-bag for the driver

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