This week the very first Mercedes-Benz C-Class coupes are hitting the road. Complete with bold AMG styling and a standard panorama sunroof, the new two-door coupe marks the first time Mercedes-Benz has offered a traditional coupe in this market segment. Also arriving is the popular four-door C-Class sedan which has undergone a major restyling involving 2,000 new parts, including new bumpers, headlights, front grille, an aluminum hood, LED taillights and a redesigned interior that incorporates color gauges, a new 5.8-inch display and new-generation telematics.
More Convenience, More Safety
In addition, there are 13 new standard equipment features on the 2012 C-Class sedan and coupe line, as well as five new safety systems. Standard-equipment Attention Assist warns drivers when they get drowsy, and a new HOLD feature for the Adaptive Brake system allows the driver to remove their foot from the brake pedal at a stop. Optional Blind Spot Assist provides a warning whenever a turn signal is activated with a car in a blind spot, while Lane Keeping Assist alerts drivers if the car drifts from its lane without the turn signals on. PARKTRONIC now incorporates a parking guidance system that can identify right-size parking spaces and provide helpful steering guidance in the instrument cluster.
Two Body Styles, Seven Models
Both the C-Class coupe and sedan are available in three different versions: the C250, powered by a new direct-injection, turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine (201 horsepower, 229 lb.-ft. of torque); the C350 Sport, with a new direct-injection 3.5-liter V6 (302 hp, 273 lb.-ft.); and the high-performance C63 AMG with a normally aspirated 6.3-liter V8 (451 hp, 443 lb.- ft.) and AMG's MCT multi-clutch transmission. With an optional AMG Development Package, the C63 AMG jumps to 481 hp.
In addition, the C-Class sedan is available as a C300, with standard 4MATIC all-wheel drive and the familiar 3.0-liter V6 engine (228 hp, 221 lb.-ft.). The C250 and C300 sedans are available in a choice of Luxury or Sport trim. Sport models feature staggered-width, fivespoke 17-inch wheels; sport shocks; springs and stabilizer bars that provide a crisper ride and more than a half-inch lower ride height; and standard AMG styling, including deeper front and rear aprons as well as sculpted rocker panels. Inside, Sport models are equipped with a three-spoke steering wheel and metallic trim, while Luxury models come with a fourspoke steering wheel and burl walnut trim. In addition to the standard body styling, Luxury models have equal-width tires, front and rear.
All 2012 C-Class models (except the C63 AMG with its high-performance MCT transmission) feature a new seven-speed automatic transmission with a more advanced torque converter lock-up clutch that provides even better fuel mileage, more responsive driving, quieter operation and increased durability. The new transmission is also designed to work best with a new type of low-viscosity ATF transmission fluid - colored blue instead of the usual red. Together with new planetary gears, bearings and internal seals, the "FE-ATF" fluid provides less friction and improved fuel mileage.
All C-Class models for 2012 are equipped with a new 5.8-inch color display that's located at the top of the console. The new head unit includes a Bluetooth interface for wireless audio streaming and hands-free phone operation, an FM phase-diversity twin tuner, HD/AM/ weatherband radio, an MP3-compatible CD drive and a USB port in the center console.
ATTENTION ASSIST Cautions "Time For A Rest?"
Among the many standard life-saving features on the C-Class is the innovative ATTENTION ASSIST system that can alert the driver to the first signs of drowsiness, a factor that causes more than 100,000 accidents a year in the U.S.
The software receives signals from the steering sensor and monitors 70 different parameters that have proven to be strong contributors to fatigue and drowsiness. Between 50 and 112 mph, the system identifies the erratic steering corrections drivers make as they begin to get drowsy and triggers an audible warning, and a "Time for a Rest?" message with a coffee cup icon appears in the instrument cluster.
More Safety Systems Assist the Driver
Other examples of trailblazing C-Class innovations include: Lane Keeping Assist, which alerts the driver by simulating rumble strip vibration in the steering wheel if the car drifts from its lane without the turn signals on. It operates at speeds above 37 mph via a system that recognizes lane markings, thanks to a small camera in the windshield and a computer that analyzes the video images.
Also available is Blind Spot Assist, which monitors both blind spots behind and to the side of the vehicle. Whenever a turn signal is activated with a vehicle in the blind spot, the driver gets visual and audible warnings.
Adaptive Highbeam Assist uses a small video camera to sense both headlights and taillights, then softly and automatically transitions between high and low beam operation to avoid dazzling other drivers. With this system, the range of the headlights can be varied infinitely from their current 220 feet to up to 1,000 feet.
An Agile C-Class
All C-Class models boast Agility Control, which provides the benefits of both soft and stiff shock absorbers. Each twin-tube shock absorber is fitted with a hydraulic by-pass piston that acts like a very soft shock absorber to effectively dampen road noise and tire vibration. However, over bumpy or uneven roads, the by-pass piston is out of the picture, which preserves the outstanding steering and handling response of a stiffer shock absorber.