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STYLING | 9 out of 10
One look and it’s clear that the seed that flowered into the C-class was collected from the same stock as that of the S-class.
Car and Driver
More like a small Mercedes-Benz S-class than an evolution of the staid outgoing car, it's contemporary in design but not as contrived as the CLA-class.
The impression of improvement starts with an airy feel from the driver seat, continues with stunning construction and finishes it off with buttons and switchgear that feel like top-quality pieces.
Stuttgart has clearly put a ton of work into the refinement of its finishes, so even though we're dealing with many of the same materials we're used to – leather, wood, aluminum – they feel qualitatively better than before.
What immediately stands out when you’re behind the wheel of the 2015 C-Class is the interior. For cabins at this price point, it is revolutionary.
The styling of the new C-Class breaks clearly from former C-Class models, getting larger, and snapping more in line with the latest revision of the S-Class flagship from stem to stern. Up front, the grille is more upright, wearing a slightly re-shaped version of the two-bar grille seen in the previous C-Class, but the similarities end there. The headlights flanking the grille are more intricately styled, with a brow-like light bar running over the dual-inset lamps, crested by a line of LEDs.
The lower portion of the nose is taken up by large air inlets, curved and flared to convey performance without attempting to seem race-inspired. The rises from the grille, shaped with three creases that more clearly define the nose of the car, while the flared front fenders further enhance the performance aspect.
The side profile doesn’t just call it in as an abbreviated form of the S-Class, and the side sheetmetal follows the sculpted-inward look of the E-Class. The rear styling is a pleasant surprise, too; Mercedes bids farewell to sharp corners and the chopped-off decklid profile and gives the C a rounded tail that’s a pleasant, softer complement to the sharp front end.
Inside, Mercedes has also moved design language found in its other new vehicles into the 2015 C-Class, with long lines wrapping aorund the cabin's belt line, layered into tiers. Front and center is a free-standing display at the top of the center stack, three circular vents below, and two thin strips of buttons to control key functions.
The latest iteration of the COMAND controller for the vehicle's infotainment system sits atop the center tunnel, with a mouse-like touchpad puck hovering over a control wheel. In front of the driver, the steering wheel is flat-bottomed and offers a familiar set of controls on either of the horizontal spokes. The instrument panel offers a speedometer and a tachometer in separate analog gauge housings, with a full-color LCD screen between.
Altogether in design, details, and features, the cabin is a knockout. It really could fit right into a luxury flagship with double the price. Whether you expect something contemporary and fresh, or whether you want an updated take on the traditional, it fully fits.
Elegance and sophistication has come to the smaller sedan class, but the interior is the real star of the design show.