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Future models - Mercedes-Benz - C-Class - C55 AMG

First look: V8 leads Benz C-class update

Inside outside: The update C-class includes new exterior and interior looks.

Mercedes-Benz gives the C-class an update, led by a V8 sports sedan

5 Feb 2004

THE first V8-powered W203 current generation C-class will headline a refreshed range of Benz compact luxury cars when they arrive here around July-August to renew the battle against the BMW 3 Series and other compact luxury contenders like the Audi A4 and Jaguar X-Type.

The C 55 AMG will employ the same normally-aspirated 270kW/510Nm 5.5-litre V8 engine as used in the CLK55 AMG coupe, which eschews the forced induction used by the famed tuner on most of the Benz engines it develops.

That means C 55 will be a head-to-head competitor for the 253kW 4.2-litre Audi S4, and two cylinders up on BMW’s legendary 252kW inline six-cylinder 3.2-litre M3 coupe.

The C 55 will replace the V6 C 32 AMG, which retails for $150,900. Expect a decent price hike when the V8 gets here.

From a standing start, Benz claims the C 55 AMG accelerates to 100 km/h in just 5.2 seconds. AMG sports suspension is fitted as standard, as is a five-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel-mounted gearshift buttons and AMG-Speedshift.

The AMG is clearly distinguishable from the other C-class models by virtue of its unique front end, that has been extended by around 80mm in order to accommodate the V8 engine and now incorporates elliptic twin headlamps.

There are also sports side skirts, boot lid and rear bumper.

Other changes to the C-class are far less headline grabbing, certainly not the “new generation” Benz claims in its press material. And that means price rises for all models bar the AMG shouldn’t be too dramatic.

Mercedes lists a number of other modifications and additions for C-class, some of which will come to Australia and some that won’t.

4 center image There is now a more sporting tune to the chassis, steering and six-speed manual gearbox, while a 141kW/260Nm Kompressor four-cylinder engine will be part of the sedan and wagon range for the first time.

Previously it was only available with the three-door Sports Coupe.

However that car, the C230, will not be coming here as Australian tastes tip more toward the V6 C240.

An engine update headed our way is the C 220 CDI turbo-diesel, which rises in power from 105 to 110kW.

Outside there is a new-look front section including bumper, three louvre radiator grille and headlights, while inside there is a new cockpit design with new switches, modified seats and the Thermatic automatic climate control system.

The changes to the C-class’ chassis, steering and manual transmission are collectively referred to as ‘Direct Control’ by Benz. They include newly developed bearings on the front and rear axles, for more agile cornering, as well as a more direct steering ratio and a reinforced anti-roll bar at the rear.

Aiding handling further is a wider track, increased from 1493mm to 1505mm – as well as standard-fit 16-inch wheels and wide 205/55 R 16 tyres.

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