A new version of Mercedes-Benz’s top-seller, the C-class, will roll into UK showrooms next March. The car will be a heavily revised update of the current four-year-old model rather than an all-new design.

But the work is thorough enough to include 2000 new parts. The most obvious changes are to the car’s front and rear and to its cabin. The bumpers and headlamps are new; while the radiator grille has a sharper V-shape and the side air inlets are positioned closer to the road, to add to the car’s road-hugging stance. Changes to the rear include a new bumper and light clusters, all of which help to make the car among the slipperiest through the air among its rivals.

The car’s dash is reworked. One criticism of the current C-class is that some of the plastics used to clad the fascia were too low-rent for the car and the alterations address this. The surfaces now have a finer texture. The dash has an integral display screen, which is housed within a stepped extension to the instrument cluster. The fascia now also continues into the belt-lines of the door panels.

All C-classes will now feature fuel-saving Start-Stop as standard, helping a revised range of engines to achieve improvements in economy while at their best are a third better than before.

A highlight is a new 3.5litre V6 petrol in the C350 BlueEfficiency model. This develops 306bhp and completes the 0-62mph dash in just 6.0secs but is still capable of up to 41.5mpg overall. There will also be 1.8-litre 4cyl turbo units developing 204 or 156bhp. Overall fuel economy for these engines is identical at 44.1mpg, while CO2 emissions range from 148-161, depending on output and gearbox.

The most economical C-classes will be the C220 CDi BlueEfficiency, using a 2.1-litre 4cyl diesel developing 170bhp and the C200 CDi BlueEfficiency, also using a 2.1-litre diesel but producing 136bhp. The C200 with a manual gearbox is capable of up to 58.9mpg while pumping out 125g/km of CO2. But the C220 beats that by achieving up to 64.2mpg and just 117g/km of CO2. The other diesel in the line-up is the C250 CDi BlueEfficiency, using another 2.1-litre 4cyl unit, but here tuned to give 204bhp. If you opt for an automatic gearbox, this manages up to 58.9mpg while producing 125-136g/km of CO2.

The car is available with a cluster of high-tech driver assistance systems – 10 in all – that use the latest radar, camera and sensor technology. These cover frequent causes of accident such as driving too closely, fatigue and darkness. Some warn the driver of an impending hazard while others actively intervene if the car senses that a collision would otherwise be likely.

Pricing will be announced nearer to the on-sale date. Saloon and estates will be available from launch.

Stephen Jury


December 23, 2010

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