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2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader December 2014

The completely redesigned 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan could mark the beginning of a new era for the 3-pointed star. Historically, Mercedes has been masterful with larger cars, but the company's small cars haven't risen to the same level. It felt like Mercedes was building the C-Class because they had to, whereas the E-Class and S-Class sedans were labors of love. But the longer, wider 2015 C-Class is a different breed -- from its dignified, S-Class-inspired styling to its thoroughly luxurious cabin. If any C-Class model could make E-Class shoppers think twice, this is the one.

The 2015 C-Class coupe, meanwhile, soldiers on as a previous-generation model. Mercedes has taken a page from the BMW playbook here, bringing out the new sedan first and delaying the coupe until the following year. The coupe's saving grace is the thrilling C63 AMG model, which merits serious consideration from enthusiasts on account of its hand-built, naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V8. When the new C63 AMG bows, it will switch to a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8, so this is the end of the line for the magnificent 6.2.

Will the new C-Class sedan finally vault Mercedes to the head of this hotly contested class? Should Audi and BMW be afraid?

What's New for 2015?

The 2015 C-Class sedan is fully redesigned, though the coupe carries over from the previous generation.

What We Like

Stately styling; top technology; quiet, well-trimmed cabin; impressive handling; available air suspension

What We Don't

Coupe's older design; so-so fuel economy

How Much?

$39,325-$63,675

Fuel Economy

The 2015 C-Class sedan is offered in either C300 or C400 form. Both are equipped with a 7-speed automatic transmission that includes an automatic stop/start feature to save fuel when the car is at rest.

The C300 is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine rated at 241 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. Rear-wheel drive is standard, with the 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system optional. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the C300 4MATIC returns 24 miles per gallon in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. City mileage stacks up well against all-wheel-drive rivals, but the highway number is a bit behind -- a surprising shortfall for an all-new engine.

The C400 is powered by a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 rated at 329 hp and 354 lb-ft. For now, the C400 comes only with the 4MATIC system. The EPA projects fuel economy of 21 mpg city/29 mpg hwy, which is slightly better than the rival BMW 335i with all-wheel drive.

The 2015 C-Class coupe is offered in C250, C350 or C63 AMG form. The C63 AMG gets a special high-performance 7-speed automatic, while the others employ an ordinary 7-speed automatic.

The rear-wheel-drive C250 coupe features a turbocharged 1.8-liter 4-cylinder rated at 201 hp and 229 lb-ft. Fuel economy estimates are 22 mpg city/31 mpg hwy.

The C350 coupe steps up to a 3.5-liter V6 rated at 302 hp and 273 lb-ft. Rear-wheel drive is standard, but the 4MATIC system is an option. The rear-drive C350 yields 20 mpg city/28 mpg hwy, while the C350 4MATIC drops to 19 mpg city/27 mpg hwy.

The rear-drive C63 AMG rocks a hand-built 6.2-liter V8 that cranks out 451 hp and 443 lb-ft. The Edition 507 package pumps up the output to 507 hp and 457 lb-ft. Fuel economy is predictably dismal at 13 mpg city/19 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The 2015 C-Class sedan lineup starts with the C300, which is offered as the base model or with Luxury or Sport packages. The C400 is offered in a single specification.

The base C300 ($39,325) includes standard features such as 17-inch alloy wheels, auto-dimming mirrors, synthetic leatherette upholstery, a 14-way power driver's seat with memory, a power front passenger seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, the COMAND infotainment system (with a 7-in central display, touchpad functionality and mobile Wi-Fi), Bluetooth and an 8-speaker audio system with USB connectivity.

The C300 Luxury ($39,975) adds a few exterior styling tweaks (including different wheels), a comfort-tuned suspension, accent stitching on the dashboard and wood inlays.

The C300 Sport ($41,500) adds AMG body styling, 18-in AMG wheels, a sport-tuned suspension, performance front brakes, a sport steering wheel and various other sport-themed interior flourishes.

The C400 ($49,515) keeps the C300 Sport's racy touches, adding a Premium package (LED headlights, LED taillights, keyless entry/start, 13-speaker Burmester audio system, satellite radio and heated front seats) that's optional on the lesser sedans.

Additional options include leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, a 14-way power front passenger seat with memory, LED ambient lighting, a hard-drive-based navigation system with music storage and an upgraded 8.4-in COMAND screen, a hands-free power trunk lid and the AIRMATIC adaptive air suspension.

On the coupe side of the ledger, the C250 ($40,125) comes with many of the C300 sedan's standard features, and it also comes with a panoramic sunroof, a sport-tuned suspension (a performance suspension with upgraded brakes is optional via the Sport Plus package), shift paddles, heated front sport seats and a 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system.

The C350 ($44,775) adds 18-in wheels, larger front brakes and wood interior trim.

The C63 AMG ($63,675) is decked out with an aero body kit, 18-in AMG wheels, huge brakes, an AMG sport suspension, a sport exhaust, more prominent seat bolsters and unique interior trim. Exclusive options include a limited-slip differential and all AMG-themed aesthetic and performance upgrades.

Note that the coupes come with an older version of COMAND that doesn't have the touchpad interface.

Cargo capacity in the sedan measures 12.6 cu ft., an average number for this class. The coupe's trunk measures a respectable 11.7 cu ft.

Safety

The 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class comes with standard stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes and six airbags (front, front-side and full-length side-curtain). Rear side airbags are optional on both sedan and coupe models. A rearview camera, parking sensors and a self-parking system are also available.

Additional electronic safety aids are provided via the optional Driver Assistance package, which includes adaptive cruise control, a collision mitigation system with automatic braking, an active blind spot monitoring system and active lane-keeping assist. The sedan's version of this package is more advanced, adding features such as rear cross-traffic assist.

Behind the Wheel

During our interior evaluation of the 2015 C-Class sedan, we were struck by the upscale look and feel of just about everything. The daringly curvaceous dashboard is a night-and-day improvement over the rather boring previous design (which is still employed by the coupe), while the various materials and finishes are uniformly top-notch. The sedan's new COMAND system keeps its familiar control knob on the center console, but now there's a touch-sensitive extension on top of it that allows for smartphone-inspired swiping gestures. Although there's certainly a learning curve for COMAND, the horizontal menus at the top and bottom of each screen make for an unusually user-friendly interface.

In terms of passenger comfort, it's hard to fault the front seats in any C-Class model, although enthusiasts may find the sedan's optional sport seats a bit modest in terms of lateral support. In back, the sedan's extended wheelbase does increase rear legroom relative to the previous model, but it's still pretty tight back there if long-legged folks are sitting in front. As you might expect, the coupe's back seat is best left to the kids.

On the road, the 2015 C-Class sedan is remarkably quiet by class standards, cruising at highway speeds like a downsized executive car. The ride is firm but well-damped with the standard suspension, while the optional air suspension puts you on a cloud. The sport-tuned suspension amplifies impacts a bit, but it also turns the C-Class into a genuine 3 Series fighter. Apart from numb steering in fast corners, there's little room for improvement -- the sport-tuned C-Class sedan is one sharp handler. Under the hood, the C400's V6 is fearsomely capable, but most drivers will also be more than satisfied with the much cheaper 4-cylinder engine in the C300, which has plenty of torque for most situations.

As for the coupe, it can't match the new sedan's uptown vibe, but it's unexpectedly fun to drive, with precise steering and a planted feel in rapid transitions. In this case, we'd pass up the C250's relatively weak 4-cylinder offering in favor of the C350's strong, smooth V6. Of course, if you've got money to burn, the C63 AMG's V8 is one of the finest engines in the world; it's worth every penny.

Other Cars to Consider

2015 Audi A4 -- The A4 is about as old as the previous C-Class sedan, but frequent updates have kept it fresh, and the S4 performance variant is a tough foe for the twin-turbo C400.

2015 BMW 3 Series -- The 3 Series continues to offer a delectable mix of athleticism and luxury, and it finally has an adult-sized back seat, too.

2015 Cadillac ATS -- Are you looking for the best-handling compact sport sedan? Look no further than Caddy's gifted entry-level model.

2015 Lexus IS -- Often overlooked, the IS boasts fashion-forward styling, a smartly trimmed interior and a generous equipment list.

Used Cadillac CTS -- The current-generation CTS (2014-present) is an excellent luxury sedan that's a blast to drive hard. A certified pre-owned specimen will let you step up to the midsize segment without spending extra money.

AutoTrader's Advice

The C400's pricing puts you up into E-Class territory, so we'd lean toward the C300 to get the most value out of the 2015 C-Class sedan.

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2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class: New Car Review - Autotrader