Mercedes-Benz unveiled a teaser video of the next-generation C-Class earlier this week. The automaker gave Cars.com a peek of the cabin with a number of interior images of the European-spec 2015 C-Class sedan, which arrives at Mercedes dealers in fall 2014. Expect full production details at January 2014's North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
The new C-Class cabin boasts shapely contours and circular air vents, and the transmission shifter moves from the center console to the steering column. Like in several other Mercedes cars — from the CLA-Class sedan to the G-Class SUV — a tabletlike display governs the navigation and multimedia systems. Along the center console, a new touchpad sits atop the knob controller; we expect the system to use Mercedes' Comand structure, but two company officials have yet to confirm details. The automaker says finger gestures on the touchpad can control the screen — much like with Audi's latest MMI touch-pad — with haptic feedback, too. A head-up display is also new, as are automatic air recirculation with tunnel detection (via GPS) and the new S-Class' active fragrance enhancer.
A now-familiar — and refreshing — chorus: The C-Class, like so many other cars, has gone on a diet. Thanks to more aluminum, rather than steel, the new sedan weighs some 221 pounds less than its predecessor. That means a C250 could undercut the Cadillac ATS and BMW 3 Series, the two flyweights among luxury sport sedans. A new multilink front suspension replaces the outgoing C-Class' strut setup; also new is Mercedes' Airmatic adaptive setup, which will be optional.
The automaker says the C-Class will be available with the redesigned S-Class' entire suite of safety features. That means lane-departure warning and prevention systems, cross-traffic pedestrian sensing, forward collision sensing with automatic braking, rear seatbelt airbags and rear-collision injury mitigation, to name a few. What's more, a new child-safety seat sensor for the front seat can automatically deactivate the front airbag (though, despite this, kids and child-safety seats still belong in the back). Mercedes also says it redesigned the C-Class' structure for "exemplary crash safety," which we hope improves on the outgoing sedan's bad showing in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's small-overlap frontal crash test.
The new C-Class will be built at Mercedes' plant in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Mercedes imports the current car, which, despite its age, is still the automaker's best-selling model — and spars with the BMW 3 Series and Lexus RX for the title of America's best-selling luxury car. We're scratching our heads as to why, though. A C250 sedan placed last in Cars.com's 2013 $46,000 Sport Sedan Challenge; the review of the car, which included evaluations of the C250 and C350, was equally damning.
Mercedes has yet to detail drivetrains or other specifics. There's also no word whether the automaker will reprise the current C-Class coupe — or bring back a C-Class wagon, last seen in 2004. But the coupe could make the cut: It accounts for a healthy 26.2 percent all new 2014 C-Class inventory on Cars.com, which suggests enough popularity in the outgoing generation to justify its return.
Stay tuned for more details closer to the Detroit auto show.