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First look: Benz bowls up 2011 C-class

Higher tech: Merc's 2011 C-class sedan and wagon will be unveiled in three weeks.

Midlife facelift for Mercedes C-class emerges six months ahead of local sales

24 Dec 2010

MERCEDES-BENZ has revealed the vital midlife makeover for its volume-selling C-class sedan and wagon, which will go on sale in Australia alongside the German maker’s all-new C-class Coupe in mid-2011.

Due to make its global public debut at the Detroit motor show next month, the 2011 C-class sedan and wagon will – apart from new front and rear-end styling - feature no fewer than 10 new driver assistance systems, including a new-generation telematics platform with internet access and new engines offering up to 31 per cent lower fuel consumption.

The precise 2011 C-class line-up has not been confirmed for Australia, where the brand’s global top-seller accounts for a dominant 31.6 per cent of the premium mid-size vehicle segment and opens with the $58,850 C200 CGI. Currently, the line-up also includes C250 CGI, C300, C220 CDI, C350 CDI and C63 AMG variants.

The highlight of the redesigned C-class dashboard is an optional new high-resolution colour display in the instrument cluster, but Mercedes claims there are a total of more than 2000 new components, including an upgraded 7G-tronic automatic transmission and the fitment of the fuel-saving ECO idle-stop system on some models.

4 center imageAvailable to order in Europe from January 10 – Detroit show opening day – the 2011 C-class replaces a model that found more than a million customers globally since March 2007. Benz has sold more than 8.5 million vehicles in the compact luxury segment worldwide since 1982, when the 190 was released as a the C-class’s direct predecessor.

Distinguished most obviously by a more prominent grille surround and a central air intake that opens out upwards in a V-shape, the upgraded C-class also scores a weight-saving new aluminium bonnet and more stylised new clear-lens headlights with horizontal LED indicators to match the now de rigeur lower LED daytime running lights.

In Europe, the standard halogen lamps can be ditched for optional bi-Xenon globes with Intelligent Light System (ILS), while at the rear there are new-shape LED tail-lights. The revised sedan bodyshell has an aerodynamic drag coefficient of 0.26Cd.

Inside, the fresh dash with a new surface grain and integrated screen is said to complement more finely galvanised and detailed touch surfaces, including central, trapezoidal air-vents and round vents on the outside. The stepped extension to the instrument cluster now also accommodates a central display.

Borrowed from the upcoming MkII CLS is a more sporting new steering wheel with chromed central spoke for the Avantgarde spec level and upwards, while new matt ash wood trim distinguishes the Elegance from the Avantgarede (dark aluminium or black ash wood).

In Europe – and most likely Australia – all rear-wheel drive C-class models will be fitted with idle-stop technology, while all engine variants will wear the BlueEfficiency badge.

Benz says that in future all automatic C-class models will receive an upgraded version of the German brand’s seven-speed auto, comprising “optimised” (read: taller) gear ratios designed to improve fuel economy.

Among the highlights of the 2011 petrol engine line-up, which is exclusively direct-injection, is the C350 BlueEfficiency’s new V6 with ‘BlueDirect’ technology that increases power from 215 to 225kW and torque from 365 to 370Nm – enough to offer 0-100km/h acceleration in six seconds.

At the same time, economy increases by 1.5 litres per 100km or 31 per cent to 6.8L/100km, while all four-cylinder C-class petrol engines will continue to feature turbocharging and direct-injection.

Europe’s entry-level C180 will offer 115kW/250Nm while returning 6.4L/100km (6.7L/100km auto) and accelerating to 100km/h in nine seconds as an auto, while the 1.8-litre C200 auto will return 135kW/270Nm and 6.6L/100km while accelerating to 100km/h in 8.2 seconds.

The 150kW/310Nm 1.8-litre C250 returns the same consumption and 0-100km/h acceleration in 7.2 seconds.

Fitted with idle-stop and a six-speed manual transmission, the 125kW/400Nm 2.1-litre C220 CDI BlueEfficiency diesel returns just 4.4L/100km (0.4L/100km less than before) and 117 grams of CO2 per kilometre, while the auto returns 4.8L1/00km.

The 150kW/500Nm 2.1-litre C250 CDI returns the same 4.9L/100km but lowers the 0-100km/h mark from 8.1 to 7.1 seconds.

Key new C-class technologies will include Attention Assist drowsiness detection, Distronic Plus radar cruise control, Adaptive Highbeam Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, Speed Limit Assist, Parktronic, Pre-Safe Brake and Blind Spot Assist.

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