Withering competition from vehicles like the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Cadillac ATS have forced Mercedes-Benzís long-standing C-Class to fall behind.
The compact sports sedan has a few gray hairs showing as fresher rivals from across the globe threaten to take its place. To help it remain relevant, Mercedes comprehensively reworked it for the 2015 model year, giving it fresh styling, class-leading features and exciting new powertrains.
BY THE POUND
Vehicles tend to get bigger with each successive generation; itís almost like theyíre human. Not ones to rest on their laurel-laced logo, the folks at Mercedes-Benz went ahead and made the 2015 C-Class slightly larger than its predecessor.
The carís wheelbase has been stretched by three inches, overall length has grown by nearly four inches and the car is some 1.6 inches wider. The dividends from these incremental increases are mostly paid to rear-seat riders as the Cís back bench is noticeably more hospitable. Its trunk grows as well and can now swallow like a baleen whale, accommodating up to 17 cubic feet of goods.
Working against the odds, engineers were actually able to lighten the car despite its growth spurt. The weight reduction clocks in at up to 200 pounds, a figure they achieved by incorporating quite a bit of aluminum into the C-Classí structure.
Ahead of the firewall, base C300s feature a newly invigorated 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. With advanced features including direct fuel injection this refined powerplant puts out a class-competitive 241 horses with 273 lb-ft of torque.
This engine will get the job done for practically every C-Class customer but itís merely an appetizer for the main course, which is found under the C400ís hood. This model is propelled by a strapping 3.0-liter V6. Brandishing twin hair-dryers it cranks out 329 hp and a maximum of 354 lb-ft of twist.
Customers may have two engines to choose from but thereís only one transmission available in this 2015 model. Itís a familiar and pleasingly responsive seven-speed automatic that can be controlled via standard paddle shifters.
Giving snow-belt residents a leg up on old-man winter, C300s can also be had with the companyís 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. Helping justify the added expense, this traction-enhancing technology is standard in the C400 where it helps put the engineís abundant torque to the ground.
Speaking of drivetrain technology the companyís adjustable Airmatic suspension system is also available. This class-exclusive and quite-appealing feature is available on both versions of the car and is reasonably priced at just $1,190.
Mercedes-Benz has really stepped up its game in designing interiors. The current C-Classí cabin is serviceable, though hardly stellar. Fortunately the 2015 iteration completely changes things for the better.
Round vents ensure climate-controlled air is placed precisely where itís needed, artfully designed seat controls are mounted on the doors for easy access, optional open-pore ash-wood trim invites inquisitive digits to feel its exposed grain and elegantly stitched leather runs across the doors and dash. Nearly everything in the 2015 C-Class interior is thoughtfully crafted to luxury standards, but there is one glaring exception.
Just like its CLA-Class little brother Ė the Mazda3 is guilty as well Ė this carís navigation screen looks like a complete afterthought. The layout looks like an iPad Mini thatís been zip-tied to the dashboard; it sticks out like a parrot on a pirateís shoulder, fortunately though it never asks for crackers. The way Audi handles its screens is much more appealing. They tuck away neatly into the dashboard when not needed.
Of course thereís a new version of the companyís COMAND infotainment technology. It maintains the ease of use this system has been known for yet it adds a redesigned look and some appealing new features including a gesture-sensitive touch pad. At first some of the added functionality is a little confusing and the interface does take some getting used to, but with a little practice it should quickly become second nature.
This carís available Burmester Premium Sound system (standard on C400 4Matic models) is absolutely phenomenal. The symphonic addition is part of the $2,700 premium package, which also includes things like LED headlights and heated front seats. The audio quality it provides is totally kicks ass. Itís one of the best systems to be found in any car at any price point.