New Mercedes C-Class Aims For Visual Appeal Against 3 Series, A4, Passat Rivals

The new C-Class from Mercedes-Benz sets new benchmarks for style, luxury and technology in the premium mid-size segment, something that is no easy feat when considering this class also includes the 3 Series from BMW, Audi’s A4 and the VW Passat.

The latest C-Class boasts a seductive restyling inside and out that is first noticed from a distance in the shape (quite literally) of the car’s striking exterior. Going for strong visual impact, the exterior design reflects a dynamic charisma blended with stylish sportiness and an overall more upscale look.

One might even be forgiven for mistaking the C-Class from afar for the larger and more expensive S-Class. This is by design, with Mercedes-Benz describing the high-class appeal of the C-Class as feeling like an “upgrade to a higher class of vehicle”.

In its latest model, BMW hasn’t much changed the styling of its successful 3 Series which is better than ever. The traditional saloon shape is given a sporty twist courtesy of a purposeful stance, low bonnet line and smart double-kidney grille.

With its simple lines and smart detailing helping it stand out, the Audi A4 has plenty of kerb appeal too. The handsome and well proportioned saloon – which shares its platform with the sportier A5 coupe and convertible models – has remained largely unchanged since its debut in 2008.

Visually, the latest C-Class represents a departure from the previous model. The side view shows off the car’s long bonnet, a passenger compartment set well back and short overhangs, while the distinctive shoulders flow into a simple, clean-cut rear section. There is a choice of two different fronts, these being the EXCLUSIVE line featuring the classic radiator grille with Mercedes star on the bonnet and the AVANTGARDE line for a more sporty look and a central star.

The C-Class interior is truly impressive and continues the car’s upscale positioning. Exuding style and sophistication, the cabin features top-notch material quality, fit and finish and there are three design and equipment lines for the interior; the AVANTGARDE line to showcase the C-Class as a sporty saloon, the EXCLUSIVE line with an emphasis on elevated status and modern luxury, and the AMG line which lends the car a decidedly sporty appearance. These lines also apply to the overall exterior of the C-Class.

A standout feature of the interior is a redesigned centre console with a centrally positioned free-standing central display screen measuring 7 inches. A touchpad allows for operation of all the head-unit functions using finger gestures, and it accepts letters, numbers and Chinese characters entered in handwriting.

Optional is a head-up display, new to the C-Class. This displays information on speed, posted speed limits and navigation directly in the driver’s field of vision on the front windscreen.

Spaciousness is also a key element in the new C-Class’s interior. An 80 mm increase in the wheelbase compared to the previous model means the new model is 95 mm longer and 40 mm wider. That means more rear-seat leg room and plenty of leg, head and shoulder room in the front.

While the older BMW 3 Series interior was a bit small, the new one is a big improvement thanks to a 50 mm longer wheelbase that results in more room inside. There’s enough leg and headroom for all passengers and this means the 3 Series now rivals Audi’s A4 much more closely in this area. The Passat, also, offers ample leg, shoulder and headroom.

Inside, the A4 is beginning to show its age but still there is no doubting the quality. High grade materials are used throughout and the fit and finish is flawless.

As with any Mercedes vehicle, there’s a range of equipment options (depending on chosen engine and configuration). These include an interior lighting package, THERMOTRONIC automatic climate control, parking package, seat comfort package and mirror package.

With Mercedes’ declared aim of making the highest standard of safety available to everyone, the C-Class incorporates almost all the new assistance systems with enhanced functions that premiered in the S-Class and E-Class earlier this year. The carmaker calls this Intelligent Drive.

Standard is ATTENTION ASSIST which can warn the driver of inattentiveness and fatigue. Options include Adaptive Highbeam Assist Plus, Active Parking Assist, Traffic Sign Assist and a 360 degree camera which can show the vehicle and its surroundings from various perspectives including a virtual bird-s eye view.

The Mercedes C-Class comes to the luxury cars Hong Kong market in C 200, C 220 BlueTec, C 250 and C 250 AMG Edition models, all powered by four-cylinder engines with best-in-class emissions.

A newly designed 4-link front axle plays a major part in the C-Class’s agile handling, and all C-Class models will now feature an electromechanical Direct-Steer system as standard. The new C-Class is also the first vehicle in its segment which can be fitted with an optional air suspension (AIRMATIC) on the front and rear axle. At the flick of a switch, the driver can choose between Comfort, ECO, Sport and Sport+ settings.