Mercedes-Benz has decided to give the 306-horsepower 2011 C350 a shot in the styling arm. After all, just because the compact luxury sedan is capable of 35 miles per gallon doesn't mean it needs to look dour.
The face of the C350 BE gets a pair of LED running lamps and an aggressively-styled lower fascia opening. Seven-spoke rollers sit inside the tightly-wrapped rubber while, out back, the lower rear fascia gets the black-out treatment.
Click through the gallery below to take in the 2011 Mercedes-Benz C350 BlueEFFICIENCY from all angles. Also, be sure to check out the full press-release posted after the jump.
Vigorous: major design update for the saloon and estate
Extended: ten new assistance systems for more safety
Efficient: new engines with up to 31 percent lower fuel consumption
Experience: new generation of telematics with internet access
Successful: more than one million units of the current model series sold since March 2007
The new C-Class being launched in spring 2011 is a comprehensive modernisation. The front and rear sections of this bestselling model have a more striking design. Together with the optional high-resolution colour display in the instrument cluster, the new dashboard with its elegant, grained surface and prominent decorative trim emphasises the premium character of the interior. Fuel consumption has been lowered by up to 31 percent. Efficiency-enhancing measures include new engines, the improved 7G-TRONIC PLUS automatic transmission and the ECO start/stop function. Ten new driving assistance systems ranging from ATTENTION ASSIST drowsiness detection to DISTRONIC PLUS proximity control are now available for this model series. The new-generation telematics include internet access and a 3D navigation display with plastic city views.
"The drive system and safety systems in the new-generation C-Class offer the comfort, efficiency and safety of our luxury vehicles. The new telematics generation connects the C-Class with the internet. Plus, with many significant details in the interior, the vehicle calls to mind the new CLS and sets totally new standards in its segment where value and quality impression are concerned", remarks Dr Joachim Schmidt, Member of Mercedes-Benz Cars Management responsible for Sales and Marketing. This modernisation of the interior is rounded off by the new telematics generation, which not only includes totally reworked displays; it also facilitates in-car internet access.
A total of more than 2000 new components distinguish the latest generation of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class from its predecessor. The European market launch is taking place from March 2011. In addition to the standard appointments – which now include a leather steering wheel – the two design and equipment lines ELEGANCE and AVANTGARDE are the basis for the individualisation range for the C-Class. The two lines are now more readily distinguishable from each other.
The C-Class is the highest-selling model series, and therefore of particular importance for Mercedes-Benz. The current series has found well over one million buyers worldwide since its launch in March 2007. Since the market launch of the first C-Class in 1982 (then known as the 190 model), Mercedes-Benz has sold more than 8.5 million vehicles in total in this segment. In 2010, too, the C-Class was repeatedly topping the registration statistics. Since 2008 the saloon has been the unbeaten world market leader in its segment. It has also positioned itself right at the head of the field in quality inspections in Europe (ADAC (German automobile association) breakdown statistics) and in the USA (J. D. Power study).
Dynamic, resolute, self-assured: the exterior
The front bumper has a more expressive and dynamic contour, the front section being brought closer to the brand's new design idiom. As a central element at the front, the shape of the radiator grille is more prominently supported by the bumper. The central air intake opens out upwards in a V-shape, forming a visual base unit for the radiator grille. Pronounced side sections on the bumper extend from the sporty V-shape at the centre. These sections (beneath the headlamps) blend into the feature lines along the vehicle flanks, creating a link with the sides. The side air inlets in the bumper are positioned low down, giving the car a more road-hugging appearance.
The saloon and estate now have a new aluminium bonnet, which contributes to weight reduction and therefore fuel efficiency. Other aluminium features include the front wings and the door modules. The contour of the bonnet in the area of the headlamps and radiator grille emphasises the V-shape of the front section more heavily than before. In conjunction with the newly designed headlamps, this renders the front section significantly more striking.
The shape of the clear-lens headlamps has been modified to create a more dynamic and resolute impression, and to act together with the bonnet, radiator grille and bumper to emphasise the V-shape of the front section. This impression is reinforced by both the exterior form of the headlamps and the interior of the housings. The headlamps show their modernity by precision and an interplay between matt and high-sheen areas. The halogen headlamps are arranged in the classic way, with low beam on the outside, main beam on the inside and the indicators neatly arranged in the outer corner formed with the front wing.
If the optional bi-xenon headlamps with the Intelligent Light System (ILS) are ordered, the impression of depth is reinforced by a row of lighting modules. A position light with a distinctive C-shape emphasises the night design. Behind it is a cornering light extending to the main headlamp module on the outside. A visual base in the lower section of the headlamp is formed by a horizontal broadband LED indicator unit. The horizontal LED daytime running lamps in the bumper also make the C-Class unmistakable from a distance.
In the case of the rear bumper, the light-catching contours and dividing lines have been modified to emphasise the width of the saloon and estate even more strongly. This change is particularly obvious in the more steeply rising course of the side light-catching contours towards the tail lights. A continuous light-catching contour at the upper end of the rear bumper extends into the flanks to connect the tail end with the sides to emphasise the sporty character of the rear aspect. In the facelifted model, the tail lights are even more neatly integrated into the tail end by a continuous covering lens. The characteristic surface meander is now on the inside of the light, and reminiscent of preceding model series. The particular impression of depth is achieved by a centrally located LED indicator, which appears to float in front of the red upper and lower light bands with their more deeply set LEDs. The tail lights have a particularly high recognition factor in the dark.
The aerodynamics of the C-Class are the mark of the bodyshell's efficiency. With a Cd figure of 0.26 it not only sets the benchmark in its class, but also glides through the wind better than most compact and even small cars with its drag
area of Cd x A = 0.57 sq. m.
Sporty, high-quality interior
A main focus of the design work in the interior was the restyling of the dashboard, with the aim of creating a powerful, sporty and high-quality look. This redesigning also involved enhancing the trim concept. The surfaces of the control elements are more finely detailed and galvanised. The stepped extension to the instrument cluster now also accommodates the central display. The instrument cluster and a discreet light-catching contour continue into the front-passenger side. The central, trapezoidal air vents and the round vents on the outside are highlighted in detail by galvanised trim.
The large section of trim is an important part of the newly designed dashboard. This extends from the centre air vents across the front-passenger side to the outer air vent, making the interior appear significantly wider. The upper dashboard section with a new surface grain continues into the beltlines of the door panels.
The control panel of the new-generation communication and information unit has keys with high-gloss surface inserts. The combination of matt keys, high-gloss areas and a new knurled wheel design accentuates the higher perceived value of the interior. Together with the new telematics generation, the facelifted C-Class also comes complete with a new instrument cluster featuring an integral display – which is also available as a colour display in conjunction with the optional 12-button steering wheel. Directed towards the driver are three tube-style surrounds with a galvanised surface, openly demonstrating the C-Class's sporting ambitions.
The premium character of the interior is underlined by the new three-spoke steering wheel generation, which was introduced with the new CLS and is now available in the sporty AVANTGARDE line for the C-Class. The steering wheel with its chromed central spoke stylishly accentuates the sporty atmosphere in the C-Class. In the base version and with ELEGANCE a newly designed four-spoke steering wheel is fitted, and in ELEGANCE guise it comes with chromed trim panels.
The ELEGANCE and AVANTGARDE lines are more readily distinguishable from each other. This has been partly achieved by new trim in brown ash wood or dark burr walnut wood (ELEGANCE), or brushed aluminium/high-gloss black ash wood (AVANTGARDE). Standard features in the ELEGANCE line include luxury head restraints whose side bolsters can be adjusted as required.
More power, lower consumption: the engines
A reduction in fuel consumption of up to 31 percent has been achieved. All the C‑Class models will be equipped with the ECO start/stop function as standard from market launch (with the exception of the C 300 CDI 4MATIC). All the engine variants are now classed as BlueEFFICIENCY units, showing that they are particularly efficient and environmentally compatible in their use of fuel. In future all automatic versions with the exception of the C 300 CDI 4MATIC will feature the further-developed 7G-TRONIC PLUS seven-speed automatic transmission (introduction in the C 250 CDI 4MATIC in June 2011). In addition, the overall ratio of all new powertrain variants has been optimised for fuel economy.
All the petrol engines in the model series have direct injection. One of the highlights is the introduction of the new V6 petrol engine with its innovative and highly efficient BlueDIRECT process in the C 350 BlueEFFICIENCY. The quantum leap in efficiency is particularly well illustrated by the six-cylinder unit: power has increased considerably, the C 350 BlueEFFICIENCY delivering 225 kW (306 hp) and 370 Nm (C 350 previously 200 kW/272 hp and 350 Nm). Fuel consumption has been significantly reduced, however: the C 350 BlueEFFICIENCY has a mean consumption of 6.8 litres per 100 km – 3.1 litres or 31 percent less than the preceding C 350 model.
The four-cylinder petrol engines, which made a great evolutionary leap forward in 2009 and all feature direct injection and turbocharging, excel with high performance and exemplary economy.
All C-Class petrol models at a glance
BE = BlueEFFICIENCY, *figures for manual transmission, automatic transmission in brackets; **figures for automatic transmission
The most economical model in the Mercedes C-Class has also become even more frugal: the C 220 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY with the manual six-speed transmission and the standard-specification ECO start/stop function has a mean diesel consumption of 4.4 litres per 100 km – 0.4 litres less than before. This corresponds to 117 grams of CO2 per kilometre.
In conjunction with the improved 7G-TRONIC PLUS automatic transmission and the ECO start/stop function included as standard, the C 220 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY and C 250 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY both deliver top-class figures with a combined diesel consumption of just 4.8 litres per 100 km. This corresponds to CO2 emissions of 125 grams per kilometre.
All C-Class diesel models at a glance2
BE = BlueEFFICIENCY, *figures for automatic transmission, manual transmission in brackets; **figures for automatic transmission
Warning and intervening: the new driving assistance systems
With a total of ten new driving assistance systems ranging from ATTENTION ASSIST drowsiness detection to DISTRONIC PLUS proximity control, the C-Class reaches a new level in safety. The assistance systems are based on the latest radar, camera and sensor technology, and cover frequent accident causes such as driving too closely, fatigue and darkness.
The new assistance systems, some of which only warn and some which actively intervene in hazardous situations, at a glance:
Adaptive Highbeam Assist
Active Lane Keeping Assist
Active Blind Spot Assist
Speed Limit Assist
PARKTRONIC including Parking Guidance
PRE-SAFE® Brakeincluding BAS PLUS
Lane Keeping Assist
Blind Spot Assist
More operating comfort, better connectivity: new-generation telematics
The new C-Class also sees the debut of a new telematics generation which will gradually be introduced in other model series too. Major new features include greater operating convenience, larger displays, phone book transfer, display of SMS messages, wireless music reproduction via Bluetooth and a USB interface now accommodated in the centre armrest.
The multimedia system COMAND Online now provides internet access for the first time. When the car is stationary, customers are able to browse freely or surf to a Mercedes-Benz Online service whose pages load particularly rapidly and are also easy to use while on the move. The integral services include weather information and a special destination search via Google, as well as the option of downloading a route that has been previously configured on a PC using Google Maps and sent to the car. The navigation system of COMAND Online also has added functions. New features include a 3D display with plastic city views. Also new: routes covered can be recorded and repeated later, specific personal destinations can be imported via an SD card and four alternative routes can be displayed on the navigation map, one of them a particularly economical variation.
As a first in the C-Class, the Becker® MAP PILOT makes a low-cost navigation function, which can also be retrofitted, available for the entry-level Audio 20 CD radio. Its advantages over aftermarket solutions include integral operation via the central controls and the Audio 20 display, a concealed location in the glove compartment and updating via an internet portal.