‘MRA’ is the new initialism for those amused by the occasional game of platform architecture bingo.
It allows the car to be about 100kg lighter than its predecessor, model for model, with an underbody constructed of almost 50 per cent aluminium, a lightweight material that’s still rare in compact executive saloons. The car is 95mm longer and 40mm wider, new for old.
The six-speed manual gearboxes fitted to entry-level models are new, and the seven-speed 7G-Tronic Plus auto (which more than 80 per cent of C-Class buyers choose) is kept on.
The range of engines consists of 134bhp 1.6-litre, 168bhp and 201bhp 2.1-litre, four-cylinder turbodiesels in the C 200 d, C 220 d, C 250 d and C 300 h models respectively, and a 181bhp 2.0-litre turbo petrol in the C 200 and C 350 e, while the range will be headed up by the 3.0-litre V6 C 43 and the 4.0-litre V8 C 63. The coupé and cabriolet models come with the same engine range bar the hybrid models and the inclusion of the C 300 - which uses the same 2.0-litre petrol engine but produces a hefty 242bhp.
The C-Class’s suspension is made up of a revised version of the five-link rear set-up that Mercedes has been faithful to for decades, and an all-new multi-link front axle alleged to offer excellent grip and stability.
The new system, similar in type to a conventional double wishbone arrangement, allows for better wheel location under load and higher levels of lateral grip and cornering stability.
The four-link set-up not only accepts both steel and air springs but also allows Mercedes to completely decouple the moving chassis links from the spring strut, which makes for freer axle kinematics and better ride tuning.
The car’s front suspension towers are among the many component parts of the body-in-white that are made of aluminium — cast in one piece for peerless strength, and then bonded, riveted and screwed to the adjacent steel pressings with a layer of glue acting as a barrier to prevent galvanic corrosion.
Over and above which there are four suspension options available: steel springs and ‘selective’ variable-rate dampers in standard Comfort, lowered Sport and even further lowered AMG Sport tunes – and an Airmatic self-levelling air suspension configuration, a first in the segment.