Mercedes-Benz will target rivals Audi and BMW with all-wheel-drive sedan and estate variants of the new C-Class, pictured here while filming a TV commercial in the United States.
These are the first completely undisguised pictures of the new C-Class sedan before its official unveiling at the Detroit motor show in January and its arrival in New Zealand next September.
For the first time, right-hand drive versions will be offered with the carmaker’s 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system, enabling the C-Class to go head-to-head in New Zealand with the likes of the Audi A4 quattro and the BMW 3-Series xDrive.
For years, BMW in NZ wanted a four-paw 3-Series to challenge the Audi A4 quattro Avant, a favourite of well-heeled skiers. BMW had been making xDrive available for the 3-Series in some left-hand drive markets, but not in right-hook countries.
That changed earlier this year with the new xDrive 3-Series giving BMW the weapon it needed to compete with Audi. The rivalry will become more intense when Mercedes-Benz muscles in on the segment with 4MATIC.
The design of the fifth-generation C-Class resembles a scaled-down S-Class flagship, what with the slopping roofline and flowing design lines along the body.
Built on the new modular MRA architecture, it is sleeker and more adult than the outgoing car, with a longer wheelbase that makes for more passenger room.
The car’s interior has already been revealed. Those who have sat in the car in Europe say it blends classy materials with the wraparound dash from the S-Class to set new standards in segment.
It’s also bursting with the latest technology. Standard cars get a seven-inch screen, but the COMAND online upgrade comes with a larger screen, with an intuitive touchpad and scroll wheel.
Under the bonnet will be a range of petrol and diesel engines, including a four-cylinder built by Benz partner Nissan in the US. A plug-in hybrid is also planned to rival the Lexus IS300h.
The entry-level engine in some markets is expected to be a 95kW 1.6-litre unit. The mainstream engines will be 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol units in various states of tune, 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesels, and the 245kW 3.0-litre V6 petrol.
The biggest engine change will come with the next rear-drive C63 AMG. The performance arm has ditched the current car’s 6.3-litre naturally aspirated V8 in favour of the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 that powers the SLC.
AMG has made another significant change – a 4MATIC prototype of the C63 is doing the rounds of engineers at Mercedes-Benz HQ in Germany.