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Mercedes C class gets French power

The C class has crisper styling with more angles and slippery lines, giving the car the appearance of a baby S class.
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Mercedes-Benz is offering a more fuel-efficient powertrain lineup in its new C class including a small diesel from Renault, a diesel hybrid and a plug-in gasoline-electric hybrid. The sedan is also lighter, bigger and better-equipped than its predecessor to help it regain its sales lead against rivals, the BMW 3 series and Audi A4. "This is the most attractive C class we have ever built and you won't find a higher quality car in its class," Mercedes r&d head Thomas Weber said.

The lightest variant has a curb weight of 1400kg, 100kg less than its predecessor. Nearly all of the exterior body panels are made of aluminum to save weight.

FAST FACTS
What is the Renault engine?
European customers will be able to buy the C class with a Renault-based 1.6-liter diesel with either 115 hp or 136 hp starting in September. Fuel consumption is as low as 3.7 liters per 100km.
And the diesel hybrid?
The C 300 Bluetec Hybrid is powered by a Mercedes 204-hp, 2.2-liter diesel and a 20 kW electric motor. The same drivetrain is used in the E class. Fuel consumption is 3.6 l/100km.
When will the plug-in hybrid launch?
Mercedes has not disclosed details, but the plug-in hybrid is expected to launch next year, likely powered by a 2.0-liter gasoline engine and a 50 kW electric motor. Fuel consumption will be 3l/100km. Mercedes has not disclosed the car's range in electric mode.
Any other new technology?
The C class gets new driver assistance systems that debuted on the latest S class last summer. They include optional Enhanced Lane Keeping Assist that can prevent the vehicle from drifting out of its lane even when the lane markings are broken.
Why is the new C class bigger than the outgoing car?
The C class is 95mm longer, with an 80mm longer wheelbase, to take account of people's increasing average height, to increase interior room and to position the sedan further away from the new entry-level CLA.

Mercedes is adding C-class production at its U.S. plant in Alabama, making it the first Mercedes model to be built in four countries.

The Basics
Launch date: March (Europe); October (U.S.)
Base price: 33,558 euros (Germany)
Platform: MRA (Mercedes Rear Wheel Architecture)
Where built: Bremen, Germany; Vance, Alabama, USA; East London, South Africa; Beijing, China
Annual sales: Analysts forecast annual volume of 300,000
Lowest CO2 emissions: 99g/km (C 180 Bluetec, 115 hp)
Main rivals: BMW 3 series, Audi A4

Other production locations are the main C-class plant in Bremen, Germany, along with East London, South Africa and Beijing, China. China gets a long-wheelbase version for the first time.

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You can reach Michael Specht at autonews@crain.com.

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