News of the fourth generation C-Class have been circulating for months now, with more and more details slowly being revealed as we approach January’s 2014 North American International Auto Show where the C-Class is rumoured to be unveiled.
This upcoming C-Class will be wider, longer and, depending on the selected engine, up to a massive 100kg (220lb) lighter than its predecessor. This huge reduction in weight can probably be attributed to its replacement of certain steel parts with aluminium (which now accounts for fortyeight percent of its body in comparison to the current car at nine percent), reducing the fuel consumption by approximately twenty percent and making this generation of C-Class the most fuel efficient to date. It will also be the first C-Class to exclusively employ turbocharged engines with direct injection. Depending on the choice of engine, an optional Airmatic air suspension can also be ordered, allowing the driver to alter the damper settings and choose between ECO, Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus modes. The self-leveling feature lowers the car’s height automatically during motorway speeds to further reduce fuel consumption as well as improve its overall aerodynamics.
The most highly anticipated feature of the 2014 C-Class however is its sleek new cabin. Mercedes-Benz has taken advantage of its best selling model to showcase its new signature interior design. Boasting “fluid transition”, as they themselves have stated, between the doors and the dashboard. Mercedes-Benz have admitted that they intend to capture the interest of younger buyers with luxurious visuals and the highest level of in-car technology that we have all come to expect from the lavish auto manufacturer.
The cabin embraces such modern technology as a 7 inch tablet-inspired touch screen control interface, positioned centrally as so that both driver and passenger can operate the touchpad. But there is also, of course, the option to upgrade to the COMAND Online system with the 8.4 inch monitor and head-up display which projects information (such as speed and navigational direction via satellite) onto the windscreen within easy view of the driver and automatically adjusts the brightness of the display to suit the exterior lighting conditions. Not to mention the inclusion of the latest in-car networked internet connectivity.
Beneath the screen are the three distinctive round bullseye air vents that we have come to recognise from Mercedes-Benz now. The air conditioning system will automatically close the air recirculation flap if the GPS detects that you are moving through the tunnel. This is to prevent fume-filled air from entering the cabin. The Air-Balance system (which was introduced as recently as October 2013 in the latest S-Series) is also able to eliminate viruses, bacteria and spores by generating oxygen ions. You can even choose between four different fragrance enhancers, including: Freeside; Nightime; Downtown; and Sport.
The 2014 C-Class has received criticism for being unimaginative and merely designed to be a more petite version of the S-Class model, with some critics even going on to say that the aircraft references (Mercedes-Benz likened the new interior to an upgrade from economy to business class) are becoming cheesy and only adding further to the lack of imagination behind the newer cars.
I anticipate that Mercedes-Benz will do well with their fourth generation and appreciate the direction that the C-Class seems to be heading in. Yes, the brushed aluminium and the exposed wood trim and leather seem reminiscent of the S-Class, but the dramatic contours alongside the integrated ambient lighting contribute toward a luxury ride bursting with charm and elegance.