New Mercedes C-Class aims for the best of both worlds

Mercedes-Benz is hoping the C-Class will close the gap between its older and younger buyers, with help from technology such as its upcoming Apple system

Mercedes-Benz is hoping the C-Class will close the gap between its older and younger buyers, with help from technology such as its upcoming Apple system. Video: Micheal McAleer

Mon, Mar 24, 2014, 15:38

For Mercedes-Benz, the new C-Class is the bridge between old and new. It’s a car that is reaching for the old, established order represented by its flagship S-Class and E-Class models, and for the new, younger audience it hopes to lure with models like the new A-Class, CLA and GLA.

To please both camps is no easy ask, but the new car makes a valiant effort. In styling terms it reflects the look of the younger camp, with definite lines that are akin to the CLA. Inside it’s a mix of both worlds, with new tech – some of it migrating directly from the recently launched S-Class – housed in smart switchgear that wouldn’t put an S-Class owner off. In fact, it really shows up the E-Class interior as being boxy and outdated for the brand.

Technology plays a big part in the new C-Class, courtesy of the seven-inch colour screen that dominates the cabin and is controlled by a combination of the traditional Command dial and a new touchpad. The latter lets you move through features in a similar way to the control of a touchpad, but also allows you to write out the name of places for the sat-nav or songs from the media player using your finger. There is, of course, voice control for most of the features.

While it’s a funky new toy, it’s not quite as smart as the likes of the Lexus system, as there is no physical indication when you move from one control to the next. That means you have to look at the screen to see where the cursor is more than you may want to while driving.

The big news about C-Class is the introduction of Apple’s new CarPlay system into the car by the end of the year. In the meantime you can access the web and several apps – such as Facebook and some news sites – via the car’s current system.

Personalise the ride
Aside from the infotainment elements, other new tech features include an air suspension system that lets you personalise the ride and handling or choose between two sports modes or comfort. It’s an impressive feature but unlikely to be chosen from the options list by many Irish C-Class buyers.

In terms of safety the new car boasts the latest pre-collisions assistance system that will ultimately apply full brakes if the radar senses a collision but the driver doesn’t react in time.

Engines at launch will be the 2.1-litre C220 Bluetec diesel tested here, along with two petrol versions: the 1.6-litre C180 and the 2-litre C200. In September the estate version will arrive along with the C300 Bluetec Hybrid.

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