Meet the new C-class. It's sportier to look at, more spacious inside and packs more powerful engines. Crucially, Mercedes says it's sportier to drive, in an attempt to tackle the BMW 3-series head on.
The new C-class takes on a family look that's reminiscent of the larger S-class. It's also bigger, putting on 55mm in length at 4581mm, 42mm in width at 1770mm and 42mm in height at 1448mm. Top-of-the-line Avantgarde models get a coupe-like grille with an oversized three-pointed star, while Classic or mid-range Elegance models retain the traditional three-pointed star atop the bonnet.
The changes inside are as radical as those outside. The dashboard has a new design that combines cues from the S-class together with a high-mounted monitor that folds away when not in use. It works via a rotary control placed between the front seats. The bigger body makes for increased shoulder room (40mm more up front and 20mm more in the rear, plus a little extra rear legroom. Despite the new car’s shorter rear overhang, boot space has also risen by 20 litres to 475 litres.
Safety kit is comprehensive: seven airbags are standard including two twin-stage airbags for the driver and front passenger, a kneebag for the driver, two sidebags in the front seat backs and two curtain-style airbags in the roof. Buyers can also add side airbags in the rear and Mercedes' Pre-Safe system.