Consider this number for a moment: 2.4 million. There are 15 states in the union with populations smaller than that.
There have also been roughly that many W204 C-Class sedans sold in the U.S. since their 2007 introduction. That’s no small figure for a sedan that starts at almost $37,000 before all the sauerkraut and other German extras that make it so popular. Mercedes-Benz counts on the C-Class as a lynchpin in its North American sales strategy.
So it shouldn’t come as any surprise that the company has big plans for the next generation. The car wears Mercedes softened corporate style, comes with a host of new luxury features along with updated engines.
As the three-pointed star brand seeks to widen its current lead over BMW – almost entirely with its new CLA-Class – the company is also bringing a barrage of other new products to market. The 2015 C-Class is one of those and there are some big changes in store for the new version.
The wheelbase is three inches longer and 1.6 inches wider to offer more rear seat space. Mercedes hasn’t said anything about price, but given the frantic pace its CLA-Class is moving, the larger size and upmarket equipment, don’t be surprised if it turns out to be more expensive this time around. The trunk now offers 17 cubic feet of cargo space; all while cutting up to 220 lbs from the previous generation.
SEE ALSO: 2015 Mercedes CLA First Drive
At the base level, it still uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. But instead of offering 201 hp, it gets a 34-hp increase to 235 along with 273 lb-ft of torque. That engine powers the C300 4MATIC, which is the first of two models set to launch the next generation here. It will be accompanied by the C400 4MATIC, which will use a direct injection turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 with 329 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque. At least from the start, that also means Mercedes is marketing the new C-Class exclusively as an all-wheel drive model.
The new model will adopt smooth styling in line with other new products from the brand. Base cars are fitted with halogen headlights while two LED variants are offered. For the new generation, buyers will also be able to choose between having a three-point star integrated with the grille or mounted on the hood like past Benz products.
At the entry level, the C-Class will come with a steel suspension, but just like the headlights there will be two optional upgrades: a sport suspension that puts the car 0.6 inches lower or an optional air suspension. A first for vehicles in the segment, the air suspension will offer selectable four selectable modes: “eco, comfort, sport and sport plus.”
Mercedes is also passing most of the safety features found in its new S- and E-Class models to the new C-Class. With the “Intelligent Drive” package, drivers get drowsiness detection, collision prevention at up to 124 mph by loading and applying the brakes. The car can also brake if it detects crossing traffic posing a threat. It can also steer and modulate the throttle during traffic jams at up to 37 mph.
The brand already revealed images of its revised cabin featuring a new display in line with that the company uses in the CLA-Class. A touchpad lets users interact with the infotainment system by writing symbols rather than scrolling through a keyboard. There’s also a head-up display projected on the windshield to show speed, safety system information and more.
An official unveiling ceremony will take place in Detroit the night before NAIAS kicks off on January 12. Pricing details or at least a rough sketch for arrival in dealers will probably be announced by then.
GALLERY: 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class
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