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2012 Mercedes-Benz C-Class: Half Will Have Four-Cylinder Engine Page 2

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Four-cylinder installations could be even higher in the sedan, hinted Glaser, while the V-6 could be a more popular choice in the Coupe. "You will probably have a higher share of V-6s in the coupe, because it's a more performance-oriented segment," he said.

The C-Class is Mercedes-Benz's highest-volume model in terms of sales, with more than a million sold since its 2007 model-year launch.

No objections to four-banger this time

And according to Mercedes-Benz, this time around its dealerships didn't have any objections to the engine downsizing.

"Everybody's very excited about this C250. It's the engine, but it's actually the whole package. " Glazer pointed to the extensive facelift that the C-Class models will get this summer. "There will be 2,000 new parts."

In addition to new interior and exterior details, the 2012 C-Class gets an all-new generation of telematics systems, including new 3D displays, Bluetooth audio streaming, text-message display, and a center-armrest USB port. Active safety is also upgraded, with available Attention Assist, Adaptive Highbeam Assist, Parking Assist, Parktronic, Lane Keeping Assist, and Blind Spot Assist.

Glaser pointed to the last severe spike in gas prices and how it changed consumer bahavior. "Four cylinders, all of a sudden, were in high demand when gas prices were above $4 a gallon...There's a short memory, unfortunately, but in the long term, gas prices will increase."

"And then we have the 35.5-mpg fleet challenge by model year 2016," added Glaser. "So obviously our product strategy has to be set up in a way to also comply with the regulatory environment."

Performance on par with existing C300 V-6

"As long as there is no compromise to the customer with the new car—and there is no down side—you get better fuel economy, you get better driving performance, and you don't sacrifice even 0-60, which is on par with the outgoing model, it's a win-win situation," Glaser asserted.

The luxury automaker is very closely evaluating a four-cylinder turbo-diesel in its GLK crossover and, according to some reports, is also considering such an engine in its next-generation C-Class, slated to be build in Alabama.

The 2012 C-Class remains built in Germany.

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