Photo of 2015 C-Class courtesy of MBUSA.
I recently had the opportunity to attend a Mercedes-Benz media event in Seattle to test drive its two new, all-wheel-drive C-Class sedan models.
The 2015 models included the C300 4MATIC with a 2.0L turbocharged direct-injection in-line four-cylinder, delivering 241 hp and 273 lb.-ft. of torque, and the C400 4MATIC with a 3.0L bi-turbo direct-injection V-6, producing 329 hp and 354 lb.-ft. of torque.
While test driving these vehicles, I did so from the perspective of a corporate executive driver. As I did my walkaround of the vehicles, the most noticeable exterior change is that the C-Class has increased its dimensions. With a 3-inch wheelbase increase (112 inches) compared with the previous model, the vehicle is 3.7-inches longer (184 inches) and 1.6-inches wider (71 inches). The trunk capacity also increases to 17 cubic feet. These changes will add to the appeal of the C-Class in the executive fleet market since these vehicles will most likely be used as mobile offices.
One noteworthy mention is that the 2015 models feature improved fuel efficiency, with lightweighting being a key contributor. The new models feature a lightweight aluminum hybrid body 154 pounds lighter than a conventional steel body, reducing the vehicle’s overall weight by around 200 pounds. The lightweight construction reduces fuel consumption without loss of performance. The share of aluminum has risen compared with the predecessor model from under 10 percent to almost 50 percent. In addition, the body structure uses ultra-high strength steel for maximum passive safety.
For companies that have buy-American purchasing policies, an extra advantage is that both models are assembled in the U.S.
Sitting behind the wheel, the most noticeable interior change is the all-new center console with a centrally positioned free-standing central display with a screen diagonal of 7 inches. The C300 4MATIC model I drove featured the 8.4-inch diagonal screen, which is standard when the Multimedia Package with the COMAND Infotainment System is selected.
Another noteworthy interior feature is a touch sensitive touchpad in the hand rest over the controller on the center tunnel, which is standard for all C-Class models sold in the U.S. Executive drivers will find its use similar to using a smartphone. It provides simple and intuitive operation using finger gestures. The touchpad also permits letters, numbers, and special characters to be entered in handwriting – in any language.
In addition, a heads-up display is also new to the C-Class. Information on vehicle speed, speed limits, and navigation instructions is displayed directly in the driver’s field of vision on the front windscreen.
Photo of interior of 2015 C300 4MATIC courtesy of MBUSA.
While driving the C-Class models through the scenic Seattle byways, the 7G-TRONIC PLUS automatic transmission provided smooth automatic gear shifting. The 4MATIC permanent all-wheel-drive system provided a sensation of enhanced sure-footedness due to its improved traction and driving stability.
The suspension on the new C-Class is also new, providing nimble and agile handling, and features a newly designed 4-link front axle. Alternatively, 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.
Numerous Safety Features
The 2015 C-Class is equipped with many vehicle and driver safety systems. For example, it is fitted as standard with ATTENTION ASSIST to warn the driver of inattentiveness and drowsiness. The ATTENTION ASSIST function offers an adjustable level of sensitivity to inform the driver about his or her level of drowsiness.
The Adaptive Brake Assist offers protection from collisions from speeds as low as 4 mph. The COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST PLUS features an additional function: When a danger of collision persists and the driver fails to respond, the system is able to carry out autonomous braking, reducing the severity of collisions. The system also brakes in response to stationary vehicles at a speed of up to 31 mph, and is able to prevent rear-end collisions at speeds of up to 25 mph.
All in all, my driving experience in Seattle showed that these two C-Class models would be welcome additions to your executive fleet selector list.