When Mercedes added the wildly successful entry-level CLA to their lineup last year, we knew they would have to move the C-Class more upscale. What we didn?t realize was how far upscale they would go.
Previous generations of the C-Class are very fine cars, but they were still entry-level versions of the brand and did not have the full dose of ?Mercedes? sophistication and elegance. The 2015 Mercedes-Benz C400 we drove recently does, in fact it reminded us of the Mercedes flagship S-Class sedan. It seems that the C-Class is now a car for shoppers who want the luxury and performance of the S-Class only with a smaller footprint or perhaps as a less ostentatious package.
The C400 interior is exceptionally well finished with high quality materials, soft leathers and a beautiful expanse of wood extending over the doors and from the top of the center stack sweeping down to the console. Controls have a precision feel and there has been careful attention to practical placement.
Like all Mercedes models the shifting is controlled by a short stalk on the right side of the steering column and the steering wheel mounted shifter paddles. We liked the feel of the fat contoured steering wheel with the flat bottom.
Handling may not be razor-edged, but it?s still better than most midsize sedans on the road, it?s just that the emphasis seems to be more on luxury as opposed to getting caught up in that ?who?s the fastest? game.
The Airmatic electronically air suspension is on the front and rear axles. It delivers variable damping and helps dampen road noises, too. By flipping the console-mounted Agility Select switch the driver can choose between “Comfort”, “ECO”, “Sport” and “Sport+” or a custom setting ? each position changes the complexion of the car?s handling.
Mercedes wants to have the safest cars on the road, and for the new C-Class that means the availability of advanced features like Attention Assist to warn the driver of inattentiveness and drowsiness; Collison Prevention Assist Plus that includes autonomous braking at speeds up to 124 mph when a collision is sensed; Distronic Plus which allows the driver to automatically follow the car ahead, plus it does automatic stop and go traffic at speeds under 37 mph; and BAS Plus Brake Assist for detecting and stopping in the face of crossing traffic.
We like that Mercedes-Benz is not playing follow the leader in an effort to show that they have the fastest car, they?ll leave that task for the upcoming AMG model. This is a smaller Mercedes for customers that want a true luxury car that just happens to go pretty fast, too.