This is new fourth-generation Mercedes-Benz C-class saloon, revealed in limited detail more than two months before it is due to make its world debut at the Detroit motor show.
Although the new BMW 3-series and Audi A4 rival is yet to be officially unveiled, Mercedes-Benz says the new C-class will be a significantly more advanced car than its predecessor in terms of construction, with a “best in class” weight figure and a level of structural integrity that it describes as being “unparalleled” in its class.
Among its features is a new lightweight body structure that uses a newly developed aluminium hybrid construction process that Mercedes-Benz claims will see the new C-class saloon hit the scales up to 100kg below its predecessor, depending on the engine it uses.
This, in turn, is said to contribute to a 20 per cent reduction in fuel consumption on certain models without any loss in power.
The existing C-class saloon tips the scales at 1395kg in C180 CGI guise. At the other end of spectrum is the C300 CDI, which is claimed to weigh 1660kg.
The reduction in weight is credited to a new structure that uses up to 48 per cent aluminium – up from 9 per cent on the outgoing third-generation C-class. The amount of hot formed steel and high strength steel has also risen by 5 per cent and 1 per cent to 8 per cent and 4 per cent respectively.
The new C-class body structure consists of nine primary cast components, with the suspension mounted on aluminium die cast elements that are claimed to be significantly more rigid than the steel components used today. New developed hydro-formed tube and aluminium cast components are claimed to provide the new saloon with outstanding test results in the Euro NCAP and US NCAP test procedures.
As well as receiving radically different construction, the fourth-generation C-class also uses a newly developed chassis consisting of a new four link front and five-link rear suspension that is claimed to provide what Mercedes-Benz describes as “unsurpassed wheel location qualities”, “supreme straight line stability” and “outstanding NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) qualities”.
The new arrangement uses a greater number of aluminium components, saving 2kg in the front end alone. It will come with the choice of three states of tune: Comfort, Direct Control and Sport – the latter of which receives a 15mm reduction in ride height.
Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz has confirmed the new C-class will be offered an optional Airmatic air suspension in combination with selected engines, as reported by Autocar.
The new set-up allows the driver to choose between Comfort, ECO, Sport and Sport Plus modes to vary the firmness of the dampers. It also provides an automatic self-leveling feature that lowers the car at motorway speeds for improved aerodynamics and added fuel economy.
Mercedes-Benz has also revealed the new C-class will receive a thoroughly reworked interior featuring optional head-up display, a finger tip controlled touch pad within the centre console measuring 6.5cm x 4.5cm and a free standing central display featuring a standard 7.0-inch or optional 8.4-inch colour monitor.
Other new features are a clever new air conditioning system that relies on GPS data to detect tunnels and automatically close the air recirculation flap in order to prevent fume filled air from entering the cabin and a front passenger seat that uses a sensor to detect the use of any child seat and automatically disengage the front passenger airbag.