The 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class offers a standard and optional feature list that looks like it belongs to a car at least one class higher; it's certainly above the norm for the smaller luxury sedan segment. From infotainment to safety to driver assistance, the 2015 C-Class offers a bit of everything--and sometimes quite a lot of it.
Standard equipment in the C-Class now includes that capacitive touch pad, plus keyless start, power folding mirrors, a power driver’s seat with memory settings, folding rear seatbacks, USB connectivity, and the seven-inch display and COMAND interface. Highlights from the options list, outside of the active-safety area, include a panorama sunroof, head-up display, a Sport Package with AMG bodywork, AMG wheels, and a sport suspension, a lighting package with LED headlamps and Active Curve Illumination. The Airmatic system is part of an Air Balance Package.
Some of the most interesting technological upgrades come on the safety front, including electronic assists to warn of driver inattentiveness, alert the driver of impending collisions (from speeds as low as 4 mph), autonomously brake (from speeds as high as 124 mph), and prevent rear-end collisions at speeds of up to 31 mph, and more. And the Distronic Plus system offers semi-autonomous traffic assistance, capable of following the vehicle ahead at speeds up to 37 mph, even in the absence of lane markers. Furthermore, an advanced brake assist system detects stationary vehicles or pedestrians, braking automatically to reduce the chance or prevent collisions entirely at up to 45 mph.
Enhanced Active Lane Keeping system can hold the 2015 C-Class in its lane, applying the brakes along one side of the car to prevent unintentional drifting.Active parking assistance, a 360-degree camera, and traffic sign assistance (which warns of speed limits, no-entry signs, and other information), are also part of the high-tech safety list. All models will offer numerous airbags, including pelvis airbags for the front row, a new window airbag, side airbags for the outboard rear seats, and a knee airbag for the driver.
Where the center stack meets the console, where there’s ordinarily just a dial in other vehicles, there’s something that’s impossible to miss: a new capacitive touchpad controller, which looks a little bit like a rounded-form smartphone mounted at a slight angle. It includes hot buttons for favorites and audio features, and recognizes some gestures. In theory, the touch pad is a very elegant solution. In execution, it’s not as smooth as it might promise; most notably, scrolling just isn’t as smooth as those with tablets have come to expect.
There are various ways to get back to the homepage, to audio and navigation menus, and to car settings. However, after using it for a full day, COMAND is still confounding. It might feel familiar and somewhat easier to use than those who have had previous versions of the system (and the Siri EyesFree support is cool and, from what we've seen, flawless), but the menu system and lack of smooth scrolling makes iDrive feel elegant and streamlined, and highlights the effectiveness of MMI. It’s time for COMAND to evolve into something else that better matches how we today use tablets.
The matte-metallic brightwork of the Burmester in-door speaker enclosures are unmistakable, but we weren’t nearly as blown away by the sound of that system, which seemed to muddle its lower midrange and bass in its surround mode. Playing jazz, with the genre's typically clearer frequency separations, it sounded great, though.