2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Review

Class Warfare Lit Anew

2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Review
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Withering competition from vehicles like the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Cadillac ATS have forced Mercedes-Benz’s long-standing C-Class to fall behind.

FAST FACTS

Engine: 2.0L turbo four cylinder makes 241 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque in the C300. The C400 has a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 with 329 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque.

Transmission: Seven-speed automatic only.

Fuel Economy: C400 4MATIC models get 22 MPG city and 29 highway or 24 MPG combined.

Pricing: The C300 starts at $39,325 or $49,515 for the C400 including delivery.

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, gaining fresh styling, class-leading features and exciting new powertrains.

By The Pound

Vehicles tend to get bigger with each successive generation; it’s almost like they’re 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 car’s 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 C’s 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-Class’ structure.

Powertrain Prowess

2015 Mercedes Benz C400 4Matic 16

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 it’s merely an appetizer for the main course, which is found under the C400s 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.

2015 Mercedes Benz C400 4Matic 13Customers may have two engines to choose from but there’s only one transmission available in this 2015 model. It’s 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 company’s 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. Helping justify the added expense, this traction-enhancing technology is standard in the C400 where it helps put the engine’s abundant torque to the ground.

Speaking of drivetrain technology the company’s 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.

Technicalities

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Mercedes-Benz has really stepped up its game in designing interiors. The current C-Class’ 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 it’s 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.

2015 Mercedes Benz C400  4Matic 34Just like its CLA-Class little brother – the Mazda3 is guilty as well – this car’s navigation screen looks like a complete afterthought. The layout looks like an iPad Mini that’s been zip-tied to the dashboard; it sticks out like a parrot on a pirate’s 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 there’s a new version of the company’s 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 car’s 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. It’s one of the best systems to be found in any car at any price point.

The Drive

2015 Mercedes Benz C400 4Matic 04

The new C-Class’ on-road manners are laudable. The car is refined when you need it to be and quite a bit of fun when you want a double-shot of driving excitement.

Evaluating it on stretches of rain-scarred highway revealed that quite a bit of tire noise can breach its NVH defenses. Coarse road surfaces result in a fair bit of ruckus, though in reality it’s probably better than many competing models. On smooth surfaces the car is about as quiet as an S-Class.

2015 Mercedes Benz C400 4Matic 08The C300’s acceleration is a little tepid, but honestly it’s fine even without pulling quite as strongly as its numbers would suggest. Stepping up to the C400 obliterates this minor complaint.

The up-level C-Class is seriously quick. Its twin-turbo six is exceedingly refined yet it still kicks like a wild stallion. This engine is impressively flexible, delivering tons of torque at very low RPM yet it’s still sparkling at high speed, surging ahead as the tachometer needle zips to redline.

Moving one step down the car’s drivetrain, there’s not much to say about the transmission and that’s a good thing. This gearbox is pretty much seamless, slurring between ratios or snapping off quick upshifts as required.

2015 Mercedes Benz C400 4Matic 20

The available Airmatic suspension is another welcome extra. Included with this option is the Agility Select system, which allows you to switch between five separate driving modes, from Eco and Comfort to Sport and Sport Plus. For even greater customizability there’s an Individual setting that lets the driver tweak several vehicular parameters to suit his or her desires.

Surprisingly, I prefer Comfort mode. It kept things nice and smooth but it didn’t seem to sacrifice much in the handling department. Ride quality in Sport and Sport Plus is pretty stiff and the steering only slightly firmer.

2015 Mercedes Benz C400 4Matic 31The C-Class’ electrically boosted tiller is just fine, though it falls short of being telepathic. Overall, this setup is well done but it still feels like something subtle is missing, like there’s not quite enough road texture coming through.
 
My biggest – and only scathing complaint – about the 2015 C-Class has to do with its front seats. They’re cripplingly uncomfortable. After just half an hour my bony backside was numb and I was squirming like a night crawler in the noonday sun, desperately trying to find a comfortable position. That never happened. 

2015 Mercedes Benz C400 4Matic 40In addition to being too low and firm, the bottom cushion feels improperly shaped. Adjusting the seats in every direction and playing with the lumbar didn’t make a difference either. Curiously other journalists did not complain about this so it could have been a fluke.

Helping make up for this comfort catastrophe is the available Distronic Plus adaptive cruise control system, which is bundled in the $2,800 driver-assistance package along with features like blind-spot assist, cross-traffic alert and rear-end collision protection. This technology is nothing short of astounding; it’s one of the greatest features ever put in a car. When engaged, the system will stop, start and steer the new C-Class almost without intervention. It works amazingly well at both highway speed and in stop-and-go traffic, greatly reducing driver fatigue. These are flagship-level features the company is democratizing by making them available in such a popularly priced and prolific model.

Pricing

The 2015 C-Class kicks off at $39,325 for a rear-wheel-drive C300. If you fancy a base model with 4Matic you can snag one for $41,325. Naturally, a top-of-the-line C400 4Matic is a bit richer; they start at $49,515. Please note, all of these figures include $925 for destination and delivery.

This car should start arriving at U.S. dealers next month.

As for fuel economy the C400 stickers at 22 miles per gallon in the city and 29 on interstate jaunts. Combined it averages a claimed 24 MPG.

2015 Mercedes Benz C400 4Matic 01

The Verdict

The 2015 Mercedes-Benz C400 4Matic looks and feels like a premium product. It raises the bar in a segment that’s rife with excellent choices.

It drives nicely, offers some pretty astounding technology and coddles passengers in a luxurious, well-built cabin. But arguably its best features are the torque-rich twin-turbo V6 and available Distronic Plus cruise control.

The new C-Class is more than competitive with its main rivals. Assuming you don’t mind the position of its navigation screen and the front seats don’t leave you crippled after a brief test drive, the new C-Class could be for you.

LOVE IT
  • Amazing Distronic Plus cruise control
  • Smooth, torque-rich twin-turbo V6
  • Rapid acceleration
  • Luxurious cabin
LEAVE IT
  • Poorly integrated navigation screen
  • Torturous front seats

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