The first heavily disguised prototypes of Mercedes-Benz’s fourth-generation C-class saloon have hit public roads in Germany for durability testing, just over 18 months before it is planned to make its world premiere at the 2013 Frankfurt motor show.
Codenamed W205, the new four door heads an expanded four-strong line-up that will once again be aiming to steal the executive car crown from the standard-setting BMW 3-series and other pretenders to its crown, including the Audi A4, Alfa Romeo Giulia, Ford Mondeo and a long-rumoured small Jaguar.
The basis for the new car is Mercedes-Benz’s MRA platform. It is flexible enough to provide the basis for a whole raft of upcoming models, ranging from the C-class all the way to the S-class. Among its developments is a completely redesigned suspension system.
The new C-class is set to make a big step stylistically. Gone is the rather staid appearance of today’s model, replaced by a far more progressive look heavily influenced by the F800 Style concept car as part of Mercedes-Benz’s efforts to attract a younger buyer audience.
Key elements are set to include a so-called ‘soft nose’ influenced by the CLS, more angular LED imbued headlamps, a heavily contoured bonnet , larger wheel houses capable of accepting wheels up to 20 inch in diameter, a more heavily raked windscreen, higher shoulder line, greater structure in the flanks, rounded turret, greater tumblehome and a notchback style rear end with an angled boot line and horizontal LED tail lamps.
Dimensionally, the new C-class is set to grow, owing in part to Mercedes-Benz’s decision to alter the direction of the CLC, which will be introduced in 2013 as a four-door coupe style car boasting much the same dimensions as today’s C-class.
Unlike the first-generation CLC which used rear wheel drive C-class underpinnings, though, the new model will get a combination of front- and four-wheel drive and share its platform with the upcoming third-generation A-class and recently introduced second-generation B-class.