Making its public debut in Detroit and arriving here in early fall, the 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sedan reflects a comprehensive recasting of the automaker's top-selling model intended to further distance it from the new entry-level CLA-Class. As indicated in our 2015 C-Class preview story, beyond a modest but meaningful growth spurt, the fourth-generation of this popular 4-door benefits from a host of upgrades that endow it with more sophisticated appearance, better performance, state-of-the-art technology culled from its pricier E-Class and S-Class siblings and an even longer list of premium creature comforts. Those enhancements are destined to make it even more competitive against natural rivals like the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Cadillac ATS, Infiniti Q50 and Lexus IS.

Here in the U.S., this new C-Class Sedan will be available in two distinct all-wheel drive variants. The C300 4Matic will be fitted with the firm's 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that carries preliminary 235 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque output ratings while the C400 4Matic gets M-B's 3.0-liter turbocharged direct-injected V6 that makes 329 horses and 354 lb-ft of peak twist. Both engines will be backed by an upgraded version of the 7G-Tronic Plus automatic transmission that's been tweaked to deliver even smoother shifts with "enhanced environmental friendliness." 

Also: 2014 Compact Cars at a glance

A similar kind of comprehensive upgrading is clearly evident inside of the roomier - and now even quieter -- cabin of the 2015 C-Class. To briefly reprise what we told you back in October, the design melds S-Class and CLA-Class design elements into a unique variation on the themes that includes an elegantly sculpted dash and one-piece console, fine wood and leather accents, a new 12-button multifunction steering wheel, M-B's embrace2 connected-car technology plus a standard 7.0-inch central display that increases in size to 8.4 inches if the car is fitted with the optional Multimedia Package. Topping the options list is a new iteration of the automaker's Comand telematics system with Navigation that features a multifunction touchpad controller with supplemental handwriting recognition functionality that allows it to operate all of the car's infotainment functions as well as a new head-up display. 

Despite being larger and even better equipped, the 2015 C-Class is about 220 pounds lighter than the current car thanks to a new hybrid structure that's more robust and rigid. It mixes various types of conventional and high-strength steel that ensures excellent passenger protection with a far greater percentage of aluminum - up from about 10 percent now to nearly 50 percent in the new car. Virtually all of the body panels in the 2015 C-Class are made of this mass-reducing alloy as are a number of its suspension components. While offering no EPA specs just yet, Mercedes says the car's trim-down program should help generate fuel economy gains of up to 20 percent while making the new C-Class even more fun to drive. 

As for the underpinnings, the 2015 C-Class features an all-new chassis that M-B says will deliver superior ride and handling. In addition to its standard conventional underpinnings with selective damping, the car will come with a lowered sport suspension on versions with the optional Sport Package. For the first time, the C-Class also will be available with a full Airmatic air suspension system that provides four different driver-selectable modes and also features a self-leveling function. A new electromechanical Direct Steer system with speed-sensitive variable ratio and on-demand assist is standard across the lineup. 

Also: 2014 Compact SUVs at a glance 

The 2015 C-Class also will be a leader in the active and passive safety arena thanks to a host of new standard and optional technologies, several recently introduced on the new the S-Class and E-Class. In addition to seven airbags, all models come with Attention Assist that can warn of drowsiness, low-speed Adaptive Brake Assist and Collision Prevention Assist Plus that can perform autonomous braking functions at speeds up to 124 mph. Other available features include Distronic Plus with Steering Assist, intelligent BAS Plus Brake Assist that can now detect cross traffic and Pre-Safe Braking as well as Enhanced Active Lane Keeping Assist. Buyers of the new C-Class also can add Active Parking Assist that works for both parallel and end-on spaces, a 360-degree bird's-eye surround camera and Traffic Sign Assist with Wrong Way Alert.

Pricing and EPA numbers for the 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Sedan will be announced closer to its actual on-sale date. Between now and then, we anticipate hearing a good deal more about other upcoming members of the family, including the next-gen C63 AMG Sedan and a C-Class Coupe

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