2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class: First Drive

August 2, 2014

The 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class isn't just departure from what the C-Class has been. It feels like a clear break with the past; and that's a very good thing.

Too often, automakers are so locked into the mindset of designing a new car to replace a current one in their lineup that they lose sight of the mission -- to design a car that actually meets what the market demands.

That's not the case here. Mercedes-Benz has added to its model line, then rejiggered it where the C-Class is a better fit for today’s market. There’s the new coupe-like CLA sedan, and the upcoming GLA small crossover. That made more room for what’s not quite a radical remake, but a serious rethink for the C-Class -- and a result that will simply be a better fit for the U.S. market.

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People have grown taller, and established models that used to be in sync with the C-Class have inched up in size; and now the C does the same. The 2015 C-Class is no longer so small that it should really be classified as a subcompact by American standards; the automaker has bumped overall length up nearly four inches, to 184 inches, and the wheelbase is three inches longer than last year (and it’s nearly two inches wider) -- all while the new model is just a little lower. Trunk space is more vacation-friendly, too, at 17 cubic feet.

More style, space -- and a focused vision

Of course, size and packaging are only part of it; the new C-Class gets a serious boost in style -- and, at last, a personality of its own. Let’s face it: in this Millenium, the C-Class has been on the verge of a sort of identity crisis in the U.S. Last generation (W204), the C-Class was pulled into sport-sedan duty some of the time, traditional compact luxury duty some of the time, and value-leader duty the rest of the time. With this new generation the 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class feels like one car: a luxury car, focused in the way that most luxury shoppers are going to love.

This sort of promotion, to a higher-up position in the lineup -- especially for the U.S. -- isn’t something to be taken lightly, and it seems that the automaker hasn’t fallen directly into some of the pigeonholes it has in the past. It’s not merely trying to provide a 7/8ths-scale version of the S-Class, as with the previous W203 C-Class of a decade ago, although thankfully it borrows plenty of technology from the flagship.

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