Mercedes-Benz has revealed a facelifted version of the C-class, which has made its public premiere at the Geneva motor show shortly before going on sale in the UK in March at prices that will remain largely unchanged over its predecessor.
Featuring a series of detailed changes aimed at carrying the current C-class over until a replacement arrives in 2013, the new saloon and estate has received more than 2000 individual updates, including the addition of an automatic stop-start system, among other driveline changes that are claimed to provide fuel consumption savings of up to 31 per cent in some models.
The new C-class is visually distinguished from its predecessor, of which over one million have been sold worldwide since its introduction in 2007, by a series of subtle styling changes, including reprofiled bumpers (the front one carrying a more integrated grille), curvy new headlamps, a reworked aluminium bonnet, revised tail-lamps with LED graphics and a new selection of alloy wheels.
The styling changes combine with optimisation of the aerodynamics, with new sealing at the front end and alterations to the cladding used underneath the engine bay helping to boost the new car’s drag coefficient to 0.26 in narrow-tyre base trim.
Inside, there’s a new, angular instrument binnacle mirroring that used in the larger E-class, a newly designed steering wheel, updated switchgear and higher-quality trim materials. Mercedes has also provided the C-class with the latest generation of its Comand navigation and entertainment system to bring it into line with other recent new models in its line-up.
Along with the changes to the exterior and interior, Mercedes has optimised the C-class’s fuel consumption through the adoption of automatic stop-start across the range. The latest iteration of Mercedes' seven-speed automatic gearbox has also been brought across to replace the old five-speed unit as optional equipment in four-cylinder models, bringing further fuel savings. The standard gearbox, in all but the range-topping C350 CGI and C350 CDI models, remains a six-speed manual.
All of the C-class’s existing four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines are retained unchanged. However, Mercedes has replaced the old M272 six-cylinder engine in the C350 CGI with its latest M276 unit. With 302bhp and 273lb ft, the 3.5-litre V6 direct injection petrol engine produces 14bhp and 4lb ft more than before. It’s also claimed to be significantly more economical, with a combined cycle average of 41.5mpg.
Further development has been focused on the C-class’s safety credentials. It now offers buyers the same array of optional systems that are available on the E-class, including Mercedes' sleep-detecting Attention Assist, radar-controlled Distronic Plus cruise control and automatic Pre-Safe brakes that begin to pull the car to a stop when an imminent collision is detected.