Look very closely – this is the 2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class, which gets a very modest facelift for the new model year. Good thing, then, that the majority of changes made to the C-Class are found underhood, where Mercedes-Benz is offering an all-new four-cylinder engine option here in the United States (as well as a new model designation – C250), not to mention some tweaks for the V6 found in the top-end C350.
Design tweaks are limited to a new aluminum hood with slightly restyled headlamps and LED running lamps down below. Yes, it looks extremely similar to the 2011 model, but if we're honest, the current C-Class design isn't exactly growing old. In fact, we rather like it as-is. The styling upgrades to the rear end are hardly noticeable, and that's just fine, too.
Four-cylinder powerplants are quickly replacing six-cylinder mills these days, even in the entry-level luxury segment. You'll remember that just a few years ago, Audi discontinued the 3.2-liter V6 in its A4, leaving only the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine on tap. Based on preliminary specifications, the new direct-injected 1.8-liter turbocharged mill looks to be plenty potent, with 201 horsepower and 229 pound-feet of torque on hand. That's 27 less horsepower than the mid-range 3.0-liter V6, but the 1.8T offers eight more pound-feet of twist. Thus, both the C250 and the mid-range C300 4Matic will do the 0-60 sprint in 7.1 seconds, but the C250 returns 24 miles per gallon (combined) while the C300 nets just 20 mpg. The range-topping C350 also gets some help from direct injection, meaning its 3.5-liter V6 now produces 302 hp and 273 lb-ft, gains of 34 hp and 15 lb-ft over the outgoing model.
In addition to new engines, the 2012 C-Class benefits from a restyled interior, mimicking what we've grown accustomed to in the E-Class. New driver assistance systems like Attention Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Blind Spot Assist and Parktronic help keep things in check out on the road.
The 2012 C-Class will make its official debut at the Detroit Auto Show next month with the cars going on sale in the United States next summer. (Full Disclosure: This information was under embargo, but a few other websites decided to spill the beans a bit early). Follow the jump for Mercedes-Benz's official press release.
The restyled MY2012 C-Class
• Energetic – new dynamic look inside and out
• Expanded – five new assistance systems for greater safety
• Efficient – new direct-injection engines with better fuel economy
• Experience – new-generation telematics
• Exceptional – more than one million sold since March 2007
The restyled 2012 C-Class sedan is scheduled to arrive in the U.S. in the summer of 2011. The front and rear end of the popular Mercedes sedan have been enhanced with a more distinctive design. The luxurious interior is now emphasized by the stylish new dashboard, which features a premium, fine-grain finish and stylish trim elements, as well as a high-resolution color display in the instrument cluster. Fuel economy has been improved by as much as 15 percent, thanks to new direct-injection engines and the redesigned 7-speed automatic transmission. Five new driver assistance systems ranging from the ATTENTION ASSIST drowsiness detection system through to the Blind Spot Assist are now available in the C-Class lineup. New generation telematics offer new infotainment and navigation features.
"In terms of driveline and safety systems, the new-generation C-Class offers the comfort and safety of our luxury vehicles - and with many high-end details in the interior evocative of the new CLS, the new C-Class sets completely new benchmarks in its segment when it comes to premium look-and-feel," says Dr. Joachim Schmidt, Executive Vice President Sales & Marketing Mercedes-Benz Cars. This interior upgrade is further enhanced by the latest generation of telematics, which not only features completely new visuals, but also brings improved functionality.
A total of more than 2,000 new parts distinguish the newest generation of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class from its predecessor. The U.S. market introduction is scheduled for summer 2011 (available to order in Europe as of January 2011). Alongside the generous standard equipment, the Sport and Luxury versions of the new C-Class form the basis of the individualization program, with both lines now more clearly differentiated from each other.
The C-Class is Mercedes-Benz's highest volume model range, and therefore especially important. The current range has chalked up global sales of more than one million units since its launch in March 2007. Since the market introduction of the first C-Class in 1982 (known then as the 190), Mercedes-Benz has sold more than 8.5 million vehicles around the world.
Dynamic, determined and confident exterior
The bumper now has a more distinctive and dynamic design, with the front end adopting the brand's new design language. The central element of the front end is the grille, which is further enhanced by the new bumper design. The center air intake opens upward in a v-shape and forms the core element of the grille design. Distinctive lines emerge from the base of the aggressive arrow design in the center. Running beneath the headlamps, these character lines transition into the side profile. The outboard air intakes in the bumper are positioned very low down to give the car a more muscular stance.
The C-Class features a new aluminum hood, which contributes to weight reduction and consequently to improved fuel efficiency. Contours around the headlamps and grille bring additional emphasis to the front-end arrow form. Working together with the redesigned headlamps, the overall front-end look is far more distinctive.
Modified clear glass headlamps create a more dynamic and determined look and, together with the hood, grille and bumper enhance the arrow visual at the front end. This precise, contemporary look is reinforced by the design of both the exterior and interior of the headlamp units, which feature a finely balanced interplay between matte and gloss surfaces. The halogen headlamps follow the classic format with low beam located on the outside and high beam in the inside, while the indicator lamps are discreetly positioned in the outer corners toward the fenders.
The available bi-xenon headlamps come with active functions and bring added depth to the appearance with a series of LED modules. A C-shaped positioning light defines the nighttime design, with cornering lights located behind it and stretching outward to the main lamp module. At the base of the headlamps are broad horizontal LED indicator units. Also horizontal are the LED daytime running lights located in the bumper, which make the C-Class unmistakable from a distance.
On the rear bumper, the character lines and shutlines have been modified to add emphasis to the vehicle's stance. This is especially evident in the steep rise of the character line running outward toward the rear lights. A continuous character line on the upper edge of the rear bumper runs into the fenders of the C-Class to provide a connection to the sides and emphasizes the sporty character of the rear view. A new one-piece jewel case on the tail lights provides further integration into the rear of the vehicle. The characteristic sinuous surface line is now reflected on the inside of the lights and is reminiscent of earlier models. The distinctive depth of the lights are achieved by LED indicators located in the center that appear to float in front of the more deeply set red LED bands above and below. The rear light pattern is particularly distinctive at night.
The bodyshell of the new C-Class is distinguished by its outstanding aerodynamics. With a cd figure of 0.26, not only is it best-in-class, its drag plane of cd x A = 0.57 m2 also cuts more smoothly through the air than most compact and even sub-compact cars.
Premium and sporty interior
One focal point of the work done in the interior was the redesign of the dashboard with the aim of creating a powerful, sporty and premium look-and-feel that includes extensive enhancement to the trim. The surfaces of the controls are more finely detailed and feature a metallic finish. The stepped hood of the instrument binnacle now extends to incorporate the central display and runs onward into the passenger side enhanced by a subtle character line. The central, trapezoidal air vents and the outer circular vents are accentuated with metallic trim elements. Central to the design of the new dashboard is a prominent trim panel. This element stretches from the central air vents along the passenger side to the outer air vent, adding visual width to the interior. The surface grain on the top portion of the dashboard continues along the upper edges of the door panels.
The new-generation center console is distinguished by its rectangular silver keys and emphasizes the premium feel of the interior in combination with matte keys, high-gloss surfaces and a new knurled control knob. Together with the new generation telematics, the restyled C-Class also receives a new instrument binnacle with integrated display. Oriented toward the driver are three tubular gauge surrounds with metallic surfaces that further enhance the aggressive character of the C-Class.
The luxury feel is emphasized by the new-generation leather steering wheel introduced with the all-new CLS and now available as standard in the C-Class. The steering wheel features a chrome-plated central spoke and further accentuates the car's stylish and sporty ambience.
The new C250 Sport and C300 4MATIC Sport models come with standard brushed aluminum trim, while the C350 Sport has distinctive Black Ash. The Luxury versions feature Burl Walnut trim.
Drivelines with more power and better fuel economy
Fuel economy has been improved by up to 15 percent. All new direct-injection versions feature exceptional efficiency and environmentally-friendly fuel consumption. All models also come with the redesigned seven-speed automatic transmission, with the gear ratios on all versions optimized for fuel economy.
The highlight in the engine lineup is the introduction of the new V6 gasoline engine in the C350 Sport Sedan, featuring the innovative and highly efficient BlueDIRECT process. The improvement in efficiency is combined with a considerable increase in output. The C350 Sport Sedan now generates 302 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque (previously 268 hp and 258 lb-ft), while fuel economy has been improved by 5 percent compared with the outgoing C350 model.
The four-cylinder engine (new for the U.S. market) features direct injection and turbocharging and is also distinguished by outstanding combined fuel economy of 24 mpg. This marks an improvement of nearly 15 percent compared with the 2011MY C300.
New driver assistance systems
The C-Class attains an all-new level of safety with a total of five new driver assistance systems ranging from ATTENTION ASSIST drowsiness detection through to Blind Spot Assist. The assistance systems are based on state-of-the-art radar, camera and sensor technology and are setup to react to frequent causes of accidents such as proximity to the vehicle in front, fatigue and darkness.
The following provides an overview of the new assistance systems:
• ATTENTION ASSIST
• Adaptive Highbeam Assist
• Park Assist incl. PARKTRONIC
• Lane Keeping Assist
• Blind Spot Assist
More user friendly, improved connectivity – the new generation of telematics
The new C-Class sees the debut of a new generation of telematics, which is scheduled for successive introduction across further model ranges. Key new features include improved user-friendliness with larger 3-D displays, phone book transfer, text message display, wireless music via Bluetooth and a USB interface now located in the center armrest.