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New Mercedes C-Class officially revealed at Detroit Motor Show

In addition, there are new safety systems, the option of air-sprung suspension for the first time and a revised interior.

‘Mercedes at its best – that’s the new C-Class, which sets new standards for the mid-range segment on many fronts,’ said Prof Dr Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development. ‘It is characterised by an emotional yet clear design which is continued in the high-quality and modern interior. Its efficient and high-performance engineering provides the basis for a high standard of driving enjoyment.’

The latest model is larger than the outgoing C-Class and features a 3-inch increase in the wheelbase (112 inches) compared with the previous model, making it 3.7 inches longer (184 inches) and 1.6 inches wider (71 inches), with the increased space most benefiting the rear passengers. Meanwhile boot space rises five litres to 480 litres.

Underpinning the new model is a robust yet lightweight bodyshell that now uses nearly 50% aluminium – compared to under 10% for the old model – helping to make the new model up to 100kg lighter, enabling benefits including improved handling and up to a 20% reduction in fuel consumption.

Also contributing to the agile handling is a new suspension set-up with a newly designed 4-link front axle along with optimised multi-link independent rear suspension with 5-link concept. The new C-Class is fitted as standard with a steel suspension with selective damping in three different versions, including a sports set-up for AMG Line models.

The new C-Class is the first vehicle in its segment that can be fitted with an air suspension (AIRMATIC) on the front and rear axles. This uses electronically controlled, continuous variable damping at the front and rear and offers four settings: “Comfort”, “ECO”, “Sport” and “Sport+.” There’s also an additional “Individual” option. AIRMATIC also features all-round self-leveling for optimum ride comfort even when the vehicle is loaded.

The new model offers a choice of three engine variants, comprising the C 220 BlueTEC diesel and the C 180 and C 200 petrols. The 2.1-litre C 200 BlueTEC turbocharged diesel delivers 168bhp and offers emissions of 103g/km and mpg of 70.6mpg.

Soon after launch, there will be a new, small 1.6-litre diesel engine offering reduced weight, compact design and low fuel consumption. The supercharged four-cylinder engine offers 113 and 134bhp with 207lb.ft or 236lb.ft of torque and is said to put the new C-Class in a class-leading position in terms of CO2 emissions.

In addition, more powerful versions of the 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel engine will be launched, covering 113bhp to 201bhp. The C 220 BlueTEC will also be available with an output of 168bhp.

Hybrid models will also  be launched, including the C 300 BlueTEC HYBRID, which uses a four-cylinder diesel engine and a compact electric motor to give an average 72.4mpg in NEDC combined mode (provisional figure). A plug-in hybrid model will also be available.

The new C-Class also sees the introduction of two new six-speed manual transmissions for the four-cylinder engines which offer enhanced ease of shifting while the 7G-TRONIC PLUS automatic transmission has been revised for improved eco and driving performance.

A number of new safety and assistance systems seen on the S-Class are also fitted on the new C-Class. These include Attention Assist, which can warn the driver of inattentiveness and drowsiness, Adaptive Brake Assist, which offers protection from collisions from speeds as low as 5mph, and the standard-fit Collision Prevention Assist Plus, which can carry out autonomous braking at speeds of up to 125mph.

UK specification and pricing are still to be confirmed.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.