The launch of the 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is only a small part of the German automaker's current product offensive. At a drive of the new sedan in Seattle, Washington, we learned a little more about what to expect for the C-Class over the next few years.
1. More power is coming soon“I guess we're still six to eight months away from an AMG,” says general manager of product management Bart Herring, adding that the engine will have horsepower and torque similar to, “other cars in that class.” That primarily means the 425-hp, 2015 BMW M3/M4. Officials also revealed that the C63 AMG will still be offered with rear-wheel drive in the States, even though most other new AMG cars in the U.S. market including the CLA45, GLA45, E63, and S63, come exclusively with 4Matic. That's because buyers in the C63's segment, we're told, still care for the racier dynamics (read: powerslides and burnouts) afforded by a rear-drive car. As European bureau correspondent Georg Kacher reported in May, the car will likely use a 485-hp version of the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 slated for the new Mercedes-AMG GT.
2. More body styles are planned -- but not a wagonAs Kacher also reported, a coupe version of the 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is due shortly. A station wagon will be sold in Europe, but Herring says definitively it won't make it across the Atlantic to the U.S. (The E-Class is Mercedes' only wagon offering on these shores.) As for the possibility of a C-Class convertible that would be closely related to the coupe, officials are cagey; Kacher reported that both the coupe and the four-seat convertible were green-lit in March.
3. The C-Class coupe will be very different from the sedan.“It's beautiful,” Mercedes marketing vice president Drew Slaven says of the C-Class coupe, promising that it will have sportier styling in the vein of the S-Class coupe, rather than simply being a sedan with the rear doors lopped off. Contrary to rumors, Slaven says the CLK-Class name won't return for the new C-Class coupe. Witness how the CL-Class name disappeared to show a closer link between the S-Class sedan and its two-door version. Though he won't be drawn on when the car will debut, Slaven notes that bodystyle variants usually launch around a year after the standard car. Given that the 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan appeared at this year's Detroit auto show, there's a slim chance the two-door could be shown as early as the January 2015 Detroit show.
4. Fuel-sipping powertrains due soonAs Kacher had predicted, both diesel and a plug-in hybrid options will arrive. Officials say to expect a plug-in version of the 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class next year; we believe it will combine a 68-hp electric motor and a 252-hp turbo-four gas engine. In Europe, buyers will also have the choice of a mild hybrid that uses a four-cylinder turbodiesel. Finally, a non-hybrid diesel is also on the way for the American C-Class; it will likely be same four-cylinder unit employed by the larger E250 Bluetec.
5. The 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class is still a conquest carThe new smaller, more affordable CLA-Class is clearly meant to bring young new buyers into the brand, but Mercedes maintains the C-Class still plays an important role in conquesting from other mainstream and luxury automakers. The company is targeting this version at the 35-45 year-old demographic, and notes that about 50 percent of current C-Class shoppers are new to Mercedes. Nonetheless, the success of the CLA, “has allowed this car to move up a little bit in class,” admits Slaven. With the CLA-Class, meanwhile, “We're really reaching an audience that we hadn't reached before,” says Mercedes-Benz U.S. president Steve Cannon, as the car's buyers are on average ten years younger than the traditional Mercedes-Benz shopper.
Check back soon for our first U.S. review of the 2015 Mercedes-Benz C300 4Matic and C400 4Matic.