2015 C-Class New Car Test Drive
Among luxury brands, the 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class midsize sedan is a heat-seeking missile from Stuttgart targeted at the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4.
Completely redesigned for the 2015 model year, the swoopy C-Class stands out in terms of design language and technology, and it is just sporty enough to find buyers among brand-and-style conscious women and upwardly mobile customers who want to park a brand-new three-pointed star car that can carry five people comfortably in their driveways for less than $40,000.
Prodigious power is not the priority here: the C-Class doesn't belong in the sports car category by a long shot. But its fluid design, which owes a big-time debt to the larger, far more expensive S-Class, and its bulletproof on-road stability and wealth of technology lends it a personality all its own.
The new C-Class sedan is the brand's biggest-selling offering and the first Mercedes-Benz based on a newly developed aluminum/steel platform, which will be employed in a variety of future vehicles.
The 2015 C-Class offers buyers the choice of two power plants and rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.
The C300 uses a turbocharged four-cylinder engine that outputs 241 horsepower and 273 foot-pounds of torque. The C300 is rear-wheel drive. The C300 4MATIC is all-wheel drive.
The higher-performance C400 4MATIC has a 3-liter bi-turbo V6 good for 329 horsepower and 354 foot-pounds of torque.
All C-Class models use a version of the company's tried and true 7-speed automatic transmission; no manual transmissions are available for the U.S.
While the car is nicely equipped out of the factory box, there are scads of options and accessories: packages to enhance comfort, safety tech, navigation and upgraded sound offerings. We would pass on many to keep the price down, but we liked the available air suspension that fits to both axles. This technology makes for electronically controlled damper adjustment that compensates for heavy car loads and imperfect road surfaces. We found it quickened turn-in and improved steering feel in the Sport and Sport Plus modes.
Safety elements are front and center in the 2015 C-Class.
The C-Class has grown in size for 2015, which is welcome news for rear-seat passengers who were slightly cramped in the older model. The 2015 C-Class wheelbase is stretched three inches, and the overall length adds 3.7 inches. Width is up 1.6 inches.
The midsize luxury sedan faces established competition from the Audi A4 sedan (starting MSRP $41,475) and A5 coupe ($44,575), as well as the BMW 3 Series ($37,195) and Cadillac ATS sedan ($37,145). There's the Lexus IS 250 sedan ($37,475), as well.
Fuel efficiency for the all-wheel-drive C400 4MATIC is an EPA-estimated 22/29/24 mpg City/Highway/Combined. The 2015 C300 4MATIC is EPA-rated at 24/31/27 mpg. Both require Premium gasoline.
Based on our auditions, BMW has nothing to worry about with its all-wheel-drive 3 Series when it comes to driving dynamics. And, while stunning in its own right, the C-Class does not have the drop-dead gorgeous lines of the Audi A5 coupe.
Model LineupThe 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan offers a choice of rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive and two engine choices: The 2015 Mercedes-Benz C300 comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 that makes 241 horsepower, and the 2015 Mercedes-Benz C400 gets a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 rated at 329 horsepower. All 2015 C-Class models use a 7-speed automatic transmission.
The C300 ($38,400) is rear-wheel drive, while the C300 4MATIC ($40,400) is all-wheel drive. The C400 4MATIC ($48,590) only comes with all-wheel drive. (All prices are MSRP and do not include a $925 destination charge.)
Standard equipment across all 2015 C-Class models includes MB-Tex (vinyl) upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, power seats in front, power folding mirrors, the 7-inch color tablet display, keyless start, automatic headlamps, power tilt and telescoping leather steering wheel.
The optional C300 premium package ($2,700) adds LED headlights, Sirius XM radio, Burmester sound system, heated front seats and Keyless-Go. The C300 Luxury package ($650) adds interior trim and a comfort suspension. The lighting package ($800) includes LED headlamps and adaptive high beam assist.
The optional COMAND navigation system ($2,690) includes 8.4-inch high-resolution screen, 10-gigabyte music drive and other features. An optional leather package ($2,300) includes leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, ambient lighting and a power passenger seat. Other options include Airmatic air suspension ($1,190). Not to be confused with that is the Air Balance package ($350), which pumps a flowery perfume fragrance into the cabin. The Driver Assistance package ($2,800) bundles blind spot and lane-keeping sensors, steering assist, and Distronic Plus, a form of cruise control that employs advanced radar sensors to scan ahead for stopped or slowing traffic.
Safety features on all C-Class models include Attention Assist driver drowsiness monitor, Pre-Safe and Collision Prevention Assist Plus technologies, a full suite of airbags, and anti-theft alarm. Anti-lock brakes are standard. The available 4MATIC all-wheel drive can enhance handling stability in slippery conditions.