The new 2014 Mercedes C-Class has been officially revealed.  Mercedes hopes the new C-Class will set a new benchmark for the segment, with a particular focus on efficiency and with the option of air suspension for the first time.

The C-Class is a vitally important model for Mercedes, selling more than any other model.  The previous generation C-Class, which first launched in 2007, has sold over 2.4 million units globally, 165,194 of those in the UK.

The 2014 model is larger than the out-going model – there’s an 80mm increase in wheelbase (to 2,840mm) and is 95mm longer and 40mm wider overall.  Mercedes say this increase allows for greater passenger space, but boot capacity also rises to 480 litres.

Externally, the shape of the new C-Class accentuates its rear-wheel drive proportions, with a long bonnet and cabin set-back within the wheelbase.

The body is of hybrid aluminium construction, a method said to save around 100kg in overall weight.  Almost 50% of the body is now aluminium, up from the previous model’s 10%.

Aerodynamic efficiency has been a crucial element of the development of the new C-Class, with the C 220 BlueTEC Eco model recording a drag coefficient of just 0.24.

Three engines will be available from launch: the entry-level C 180 uses a 1.6-litre petrol unit developing 156hp and 250Nm of torque.  It’s no slouch, accelerating from 0-62mph in 8.2 seconds, but can also achieve 56.5 mpg with CO2 emissions of 116 g/km.

The C 200 is driven by a 1.9-litre unit with 184hp and 300Nm, and can complete the 0-62mph sprint in 7.5 seconds.  Economy is 53.3 mpg with emissions of 123 g/km.

The sole diesel unit to start with is a 2.2-litre unit with 170hp and 400Nm, enough to achieve 62mph in 8.1 seconds while returning an extremely creditable 70.6 mpg and 103 g/km.

A 1.6-litre diesel unit will follow later with power outputs of 115 or 136hp and is expected to yield CO2 emissions below 100 g/km.

A more powerful version of the 2.2-litre diesel with 204hp will also arrive later, as will the C 300 BlueTEC Hybrid with a four-cylinder diesel engine mated to an electric motor to deliver 204 + 27hp with economy of 72.4 mpg.  A plug-in hybrid model will also follow in time.

Two new six-speed manual transmissions will be offered, depending on power outputs, while other models will feature the seven-speed 7G-Tronic Plus automatic transmission.

The suspension has been completely reworked and now uses a four-link front axle and five-link rear axle to allow for improved steering response and more agile handling.  The standard steel suspension is available in three configurations: a comfort oriented set-up, a lowered comfort set-up, and a sports suspension lowered by 15mm.

However, the company’s Airmatic air suspension is also now available as an option, and it allows the driver to select from Comfort, Eco, Sport, Sport+ and Individual modes, the latter providing the ability for the driver to configure the vehicle to their own specific settings.

Inside, the dashboard flows into the doors and into the new large one-piece centre console, which features a new touchpad controller that accepts not only touches and swipes, but also the input of letters and numbers in any language, together with haptic feedback.  The system is coupled to a large free-standing central display on top of the centre console.

A new head-up display is also available on the C-Class for the first time, projecting information such as vehicle speed, speed limits, navigation instructions and other messages on to the windscreen.

A variety of safety systems will be available.  All models benefit from Attention Assist (which warns the driver to take a break if it detects drowsiness), and Collision Prevention Assist Plus which can automatically apply the brakes at speeds of up to 125mph if it detects a collision is imminent, and can brake to a stop from speeds of up to 31mph in urban environments.  Optional systems include Distronic Plus, Steering Assist, Stop Go Pilot, Brake Assist System Plus, Enhanced Lane Keeping Assist and others.

Other clever electronic gadgets include an air conditioning system that uses satellite navigation data to detect tunnels and close the air recirculation vents before entering, an integrated WLAN hotspot and Google’s Local Search function with StreetView.

UK pricing and specification has yet to be confirmed.