Currently reading: 2014 Mercedes-Benz C-class revealed
Mercedes’ new rival to BMW's 3-series is now bigger and lighter than before, with S-class tech and a high-quality cabin

The new Mercedes-Benz C-class has been revealed in full at the Detroit motor show ahead of a planned arrival in UK showrooms in June. Prices are set to rise marginally over the outgoing model. 

The new model, Mercedes’ global best-seller, has a dramatic new look inside and out, a 100kg weight reduction and a more efficient engine line-up that includes a model with sub-100g/km CO2 emissions for the first time in the fiercely contested compact premium saloon segment. 

Other features of the new W205-generation C-class include the option of air suspension (another segment first), a more agile chassis, greater use of aluminium in its structure and a whole suite of advanced driver-assistance systems shared with the recently-launched new Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

Underpinning the C-class is the new lightweight modular rear-drive MRA (Mercedes Rear-drive Architecture) platform that will underpin all core rear-drive models from the C-class and above, including saloons and SUVs.

This new platform will be rolled out across a C-class line-up that will extend to include estate, coupé and AMG variants as well as a new cabriolet version and 4Matic all-wheel-drive models that will be sold in the UK for the first time from the end of next year.

The new C-class is 4686mm long, 1810mm wide and 1442mm high, the length and width growing by 95mm and 40mm respectively over the current car and the height reducing by 5mm. The wheelbase is up by 80mm to 2840mm. 

The increase in size is due to the recent arrival in Mercedes’s line-up of the Mercedes-Benz CLA, a model that closely matches the current C-class in length. The fifth-generation C-class has thus grown longer and wider to distance itself from the CLA.

Visually, the new C-class shows a clear family resemblance to the latest S-class and recently revised Mercedes-Benz E-Class, as well as the smaller A-class family. Following Mercedes’ ‘sensual purity’ design theme, the fundamental classic rear-drive saloon proportions, including a long bonnet and set-back cabin, remain, but the Mercedes design team, headed by Gorden Wagener, have reduced the overhangs, raised the beltline, narrowed the glasshouse and added sculpted, flowing lines and surfaces that taper back to give a more classic profile inspired by the Streamliner models from the 1920s and 1930s.

This ‘soft’ treatment, which includes front and rear ends that avoid sharp edges and creases by curving into the car’s sides, contributes to the C-class’s class-best drag coefficient of 0.24.

The overall result is a more modern-looking C-class that Mercedes hopes will appeal to a much younger audience without alienating the more traditional C-class buyer.

The new look for the modern, luxurious interior is bolder still than that of the exterior. Its ‘wraparound’ dashboard design is derived from that found in the A-class family and the new S-class and features three central circular air vents, greatly reduced switchgear on the centre console and improved overall fit and finish.


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Car review

The Mercedes C-Class marks a return to the company's old-school values of all-round quality and maturity

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A free-standing screen on top of the dashboard displays key information and infotainment options and is controlled by a standard rotary controller, or an optional touchpad that mimics the controls of a touchscreen smartphone.

In the rear, the longer wheelbase means back-seat passengers get 25mm more legroom, while the increase in overall width further boosts space. Boot capacity is up by five litres over the outgoing C-class, to 480 litres. 

The structure of the new C-class is now almost 50 per cent aluminium, contributing to an overall weight reduction of up to 100kg, model to model. This not only helps to reduce fuel consumption but also improves strength, ride and handling characteristics and safety performance.

The new C-class’s chassis has been tuned to offer a more sporty and agile drive without compromising ride comfort. Stiffness has been increased by around 20 per cent. 

The suspension consists of a four-link set-up at the front and a five-link arrangement at the rear. A steel suspension system with selective damping is fitted as standard in three different versions, including a sports set-up lowered by 15mm in AMG Line models.

The big news, however, is the option of AirMatic air suspension, the first time it has been offered in this class. This fully adaptive, self-levelling system offers four driving modes, from Comfort to Sport+, or allows the driver to tailor his own preferences in the Individual mode. The steering set-up, meanwhile, is a speed-sensitive electro-mechanical system.

All engines in the C-class range are Euro 6 emissions compliant, come with stop-start as standard and offer up to 20 per cent better economy than the previous line-up but with no loss of performance.

The engine range at launch includes a 168bhp 2.1-litre turbodiesel in the C220 Bluetec, a 154bhp 1.6 petrol in the C180 and a 181bhp 2.0-litre petrol in the C200. 

A series of other engines will be rolled out soon after launch, including a new 1.6-litre turbodiesel co-developed with Renault. It will be offered with power outputs of 113bhp and 134bhp and will see the C-class’s CO2emissions dip below 100g/km in its most frugal form. Other variants of the familiar OM651 2.1-litre turbodiesel will also follow, with power outputs ranging from 113bhp to 201bhp. 

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The launch petrol line-up will be expanded with further versions of the M274 engine already familiar from its transverse application in the Mercedes-Benz A-Class. In the C-class, it will be offered with power outputs of up to 235bhp. A V6 petrol engine is also planned. 

The C-class will be offered in a C300 Bluetec Hybrid version, which mixes a 2.1-litre turbodiesel engine with an electric motor and comes with a provisional 72.4mpg claimed economy figure. Also planned from 2015 is a plug-in petrol-electric drivetrain in the C350. 

Two transmissions are offered: a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. A nine-speed automatic has also been rumoured for introduction further down the line. Rear-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive being offered later in the year on selected C-classes for the first time. 

A whole host of technologies derived from the S-class is also being offered on the C-class. These include a level of autonomous driving at low speeds and in traffic jams, along with drowsiness detection, steering assistance, lane assistance and numerous parking assistance systems.

Read more Detroit motor show news.

Mark Tisshaw

Title: Editor

Mark is a journalist with more than a decade of top-level experience in the automotive industry. He first joined Autocar in 2009, having previously worked in local newspapers. He has held several roles at Autocar, including news editor, deputy editor, digital editor and his current position of editor, one he has held since 2017.

From this position he oversees all of Autocar’s content across the print magazine, website, social media, video, and podcast channels, as well as our recent launch, Autocar Business. Mark regularly interviews the very top global executives in the automotive industry, telling their stories and holding them to account, meeting them at shows and events around the world.

Mark is a Car of the Year juror, a prestigious annual award that Autocar is one of the main sponsors of. He has made media appearances on the likes of the BBC, and contributed to titles including What Car?Move Electric and Pistonheads, and has written a column for The Sun.

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benzw205 17 March 2014

Definitively the nicest Mercedes Benz available now !

Definitively the nicest Mercedes Benz available now !
fadyady 14 January 2014

The new C-Class...

The new C-Class has one up on the current class leader the long-reigning 3-Series.
John O'Groats 13 January 2014

Reality check

It's great to see posters with a massive sense of humor extolling the virtues of Jaguars - a vehicle of the second rank, at best.

As for the mention of the superiority of the D4 Volvo diesel by one poster - this delusional post is likely occasioned by overconsumption of black pudding.

The comparison of a Mercedes diesel in terms of refinement (I had a drive of a friend's 2.1 litre diesel engined C-class last week) with a Massey Ferguson diesel only indicates to me that the poster has never piloted a Massey Ferguson tractor of any vintage - I note that I have.

I await the estate version of the C-class as In my view, Mercedes estates have historically been 'better lookers' than the equivalent
sedans (I note that I am a former E-class estate owner) and rear seat legroom of the new C-class will be adequate for my purposes.

Citytiger 13 January 2014

John O'Groats wrote: As for

John O'Groats wrote:

As for the mention of the superiority of the D4 Volvo diesel by one poster - this delusional post is likely occasioned by overconsumption of black pudding.

Volvos with the new D4 Drive-E turbo diesel engine are available to order in the UK now. The 179bhp two-litre unit is being offered in the S60, V60, XC60, V70, XC70 and S80 ranges with either a manual or an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
In the S60, and in versions of the V60 with wheel sizes of up to 17", the D4 uses fuel at the official rate of 74.3mpg and has a CO2 rating of 99g/km

Can you please tell me which Mercedes or BMW engine matches these figures?

Thanks, when you do, I will email you my address for you to send me more black pudding, or is it Haggis?

Civinfo 23 January 2014

John O'Groats wrote: The

John O'Groats wrote:

The comparison of a Mercedes diesel in terms of refinement (I had a drive of a friend's 2.1 litre diesel engined C-class last week) with a Massey Ferguson diesel only indicates to me that the poster has never piloted a Massey Ferguson tractor of any vintage - I note that I have.

Never owned a MF, but I have a Fordson.

Just look at what WC have just written about the current C class tractor:

What Car wrote:

The first thing you notice is how gruff the engine is. This is a diesel engine from the old school, with a telltale rattle at town speeds that turns into a real racket at higher revs. At least it’s quiet when cruising on the motorway, but almost every rival with a four-cylinder diesel engine is more refined. -

I did 55,000 miles behind the dog rough OM651 in an E220. Merc will have had to do some NVH magic on it to make the new C Class worth consideration (unless you are deaf, in which case it will be fine).