The new Mercedes-Benz C-Class makes its world debut today with the release of first photographs and information. The new car will be seen on British roads in June 2007.

Mercedes-Benz offers three individual model lines with the emphasis on a balance of comfort and an exhilarating driving experience: SE, ELEGANCE or SPORT. All model variants share the latest, state-of-the-art technology. This includes the newly developed AGILITY CONTROL suspension package with selective damping, the PRE-SAFE® preventive occupant protection system and the optional Intelligent Light System with five different lighting functions. There is a choice of four and six-cylinder engines with improvements of up to 13 per cent more power output than the outgoing model, accompanied by up to six percent lower fuel consumption.

The new Mercedes-Benz C-Class is the first car in its market segment to be awarded an Environmental Certificate, for its environmentally focussed development, highlighting advances over the entire vehicle lifecycle in areas such as fuel consumption, exhaust emissions and selection of materials used in its design and construction.

With a length of 4581 mm, the new C-Class is 55 mm longer than its predecessor. The body width has increased by 42 mm to 1770 mm, and the wheelbase by 45 mm to 2760 mm. These dimensions mean the car has a generously sized interior offering the driver and passengers an even more comfortable ride. The front shoulder room has increased by 40 mm, for example.

Designers have given the new C-Class a wedge-shaped front end, emphasising the agility and performance of the car. For the first time in a Mercedes Saloon, the radiator grille is used as a distinguishing feature to position the model variants more clearly. Three extended, horizontal louvres and a large centrally positioned Mercedes star characterise the SPORT line. This model combines luxury specification with first class driving dynamics.

In the ELEGANCE line there are chrome highlights on the radiator grille which is finished in high-gloss paint accentuating the brand attributes of comfort and luxury. The SE line offers the same technical innovations as the other two model variants. Both the ELEGANCE and SE lines share a more executive and traditional-style front design, with a bonnet mounted Mercedes star.

The new C-Class’s suspension system gives the best of both worlds: a comfortable, cosseting ride coupled with agile handling and a cornering attitude 10 per cent flatter than the previous model. This is because every new C-Class is fitted with AGILITY CONTROL suspension, as standard.

AGILITY CONTROL has selective damping, which controls the shock absorber forces according to the driving situation. It uses hydromechanics (rather than complicated electronics) to offer soft damping when low suspension forces are at work, when driving along a straight road, for example and much firmer damping action when high forces are applied; for example, when cornering or taking avoiding action.

The AGILITY CONTROL steering of the new C-Class has a ratio of 14.5, and is therefore six per cent more direct than the steering of the previous model. The AGILITY CONTROL manual gearshift reflects the sporty character of the C-Class with a short travel and precise shifts.

Mercedes-Benz has also developed the ADVANCED AGILITY package with a “sporty” driving mode, which will become optionally available from autumn 2007. This offers the driver a choice of two gearshift programmes: Sport and Comfort. Within these programmes the shock absorber for each wheel has infinitely variable electronic control.

ADAPTIVE BRAKE is another new development and is based on the technology of the S-Class. It provides additional support functions for even more safety and comfort. Examples include Hill Start Assist making it easier for the driver to move off on uphill gradients, priming the braking system in critical situations and light contact to dry the brake discs in wet conditions.

With a remarkable boost in output by up to 13 per cent and an increase of around 18 per cent in torque, the engines create a lively driving experience.

Mercedes-Benz has further developed the four-cylinder engines. In the petrol range, the output of the entry-level C 180 KOMPRESSOR has increased nine per cent from the previous 143 hp (105 kW) to 156 hp (115 kW), with maximum torque improved by 4.5 per cent from 220 to 230 Nm. The C 200 KOMPRESSOR develops 20 hp (15 kW) more than before, with an output of 184 hp (135 kW) and generates its maximum torque of 250 Nm from 2800 rpm. These modified engines considerably improve the performance and fuel consumption of the four-cylinder models. From 0-62 mph the C 200 KOMPRESSOR is 0.5 seconds faster than its predecessor. Improvements in fuel consumption are equally impressive: the C 180 KOMPRESSOR consumes 0.3 litres per 100 kilometres less than before, while the combined fuel consumption of the C 200 KOMPRESSOR has been reduced by 0.5 litres per 100 kilometres.

Further development of the four-cylinder units was also the main focus for the diesel engines. The engineers in Stuttgart have made further improvements to the engine, turbocharger and common-rail direct injection, modifying more than 90 components. As a result of these measures the new C 200 CDI has 11 per cent more output than the preceding model, with 136 hp (100 kW) versus the previous 122 hp (90 kW). The C 220 CDI develops a peak output of 170 hp (125 kW) versus the previous 150 hp (110 kW) and generates a torque of 400 Nm from 2000 rpm — around 18 per cent more than before. Fuel consumption has been reduced by up to 0.3 litres per 100 kilometres: in the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC), the C 200 CDI and C 220 CDI are able to travel 100 kilometres on just 6.1 litres of fuel.

The modern V6-engines in the C-Class range remain unchanged, with a choice of three petrol units developing 204 hp (150 kW), 231 hp (170 kW) and 272 hp (200 kW). The six-cylinder C 320 CDI has a power output of 224 hp (165 kW). All four-cylinder engines and the six-cylinder C 230 are equipped with the six-speed manual gearbox. The C 280, C 350 and C 320 CDI have 7G-TRONIC, the world’s only seven-speed automatic transmission, as standard equipment. This is also available for the six-cylinder C 230 model as an option.

During the course of its development, the new C-Class Saloon successfully passed more than 100 crash tests, including the particularly demanding, in-house impact tests. Occupant protection is based on an intelligently designed bodyshell, 70 percent of which consists of high-strength and ultra high-strength steel. Mercedes-Benz has enlarged the deformation zones even further and improved energy flows. The front-end structure of the new C-Class has four independently acting impact levels, which enable forces to be distributed over a wide area while bypassing the passenger cell.

The safety technology in the interior has been complemented with the very latest protection systems. Seven airbags are included as standard equipment: two adaptive airbags for the driver and front passenger, a kneebag for the driver, two sidebags in the front seat backrests and two large windowbags which extend from the A to the C-pillar during a side impact. The driver, front passenger and the passengers on the outer rear seats also benefit from belt tensioners and belt force limiters as standard. The standard head restraints operate on the NECK PRO principle: during a rear-end collision the padded surfaces are pushed forward and upward within milliseconds to support the heads of the driver and front passenger at an early stage. This significantly reduces the risk of a whiplash injury.

Mercedes-Benz has developed flashing adaptive brake lights as a major help in reducing rear-end collisions, and these are also standard equipment in the new C-Class. If the driver needs to brake hard at speeds in excess of 30 mph the brake lights flash rapidly to warn drivers following behind. At higher speeds of around 70 mph, flashing lights make drivers react 0.2 seconds quicker than they do to conventional brake lights.

PRE-SAFE® is another innovative standard feature of the new Mercedes Saloon. This preventive occupant protection system is linked to active safety systems such as ESP® and Brake Assist, and is able to recognise critical driving manoeuvres at a very early stage. If the C-Class is in danger of crashing as a result of heavy under or oversteering, or if the driver needs to brake very heavily in a dangerous situation, PRE-SAFE® activates certain systems as a precaution to prepare the vehicle and its occupants for an impending accident. Accordingly the passive safety phase does not begin when the impact has already occurred, but before an impending collision. If the impact is avoided PRE-SAFE® re-sets itself.

The Intelligent Light System developed by Mercedes-Benz is also available in this vehicle class as an option for the first time. Powerful bi-xenon headlamps are automatically adapted to the driving situation, illuminating a wider area when driving on country roads and improving long range visibility on motorways, for example. The system also includes enhanced front fog lamps, as well as the cornering light function and Active Light System, which enables the headlamps to follow steering input for better visibility. This is another important contribution by Mercedes-Benz to safer driving in poor visibility.
New control concept for clarity and comfort

The central colour display is part of the new control and display concept which the C-Class has adopted from the luxury-class Mercedes models. Its major advantage is rapid access to frequently used functions, which means that the driver does not need to relearn, is able to maintain familiar habits and feels at home immediately. All the control and display elements necessary and important during a journey are located in the cockpit, i.e. in immediate proximity to the driver.

In the same way, linking the standard, leather-trimmed multifunction steering wheel with the instrument cluster means rapid access to a wide range of information and functions in the driver’s direct line of vision. Other functions are shown on the display at the centre of the dashboard. The driver and front passenger are able to control the radio, navigation system or telephone by using the controller on the centre console, or access the main menus using direct selection keys.
COMAND provides voice operation, a music register, hard-disk drive navigation and an integrated DVD changer

The new C-Class features, as standard, the Audio 20 radio/CD system and optional integrated CD changer, Audio 50 APS and COMAND systems, which are newly developed, for C-Class passengers. They all feature a keypad for entering telephone numbers and radio frequencies, as well as a Bluetooth interface which wirelessly connects the Bluetooth mobile phone to the hands-free telephone system. In the Audio 50 APS, the route guidance information includes a visual display that automatically zooms in on junctions. A six-CD changer and the LINGUATRONIC voice control system are also integrated.

The multimedia system COMAND offers even more functions in the new C-Class. One new feature is a Europe-wide navigation system with data stored on a 30 Gigabyte hard disk. The high-resolution maps are shown on a colour display which pivots away and disappears beneath a cover at the touch of a button.

Other functions of COMAND include a music register with a four-Gigabyte memory, a DVD-player for video and audio, an integrated 6-disk CD/DVD changer, and the LINGUATRONIC voice control system, which Mercedes-Benz has further improved. The driver no longer needs to spell out the names of countries, towns or roads, but is able to speak them as whole words. The voice control system is just as convenient when selecting radio stations or entries in the telephone directory.
The C-Class is the bestseller in the Mercedes line-up

The new C-Class Saloon replaces a model series of which more than 1.4 million units have been sold worldwide since spring 2000. All in all, Mercedes-Benz has delivered more than two million of the Saloon, Estate and Sports Coupé models in the previous C-Class to customers all over the world. This makes the C-Class the bestseller in the Mercedes-Benz passenger car range.

Since 2000, more than 114,000 C-Class Saloons have been registered in the UK, along with more than 23,000 C-Class Estate cars and more than 40,000 Sports Coupé models.