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Spyshot: Mercedes C-class

Due for launch in exactly a year, the new Mercedes-Benz C-class is said to be bigger, sharper to drive and far more eye-catching than the current model.

The look will certainly be more extrovert, with a pinch or two of CLS. Big headlamps are warped rectangles crowned by a 7-series-style ‘eyebrow’ indicator; and the sheet metal will be pinched into pronounced edges on bonnet and boot.

There are big changes to the rear-wheel drive chassis, too. A new rear suspension, sportier spring and damper rates all round, plus a different steering column are said to transform the dynamics.

The engine line-up is barely recognisable. The era of the in-live fivepot CDI is over: a new 2.2-litre diesel four, complete with particulate trap, will be offered in 170bhp and 200bhp. The M-class’ six, with 224bhp, is also being readied for action.

The petrol engines also break new ground. The 1.8-litre fourpot has direct injection, boosting power and fuel economy. It will be offered in three states of tune: 150, 170 and 200bhp. A 3.0-litre V6, the SLK’s bigger, 258bhp six and a couple of bent eights, will complete the line up. The engines are coupled to a six-speed manual, or six- or seven-speed auto ’boxes.

Inside, the C-class has more leg and shoulder room, thanks to a stretch in the wheelbase and a wider track. And the dashboard takes a big leap forward on quality and gadgetry. The sat-nav screen now emerges from the dashtop at the push of the button – it’s bigger and better positioned.

Hands-free phone, automatic cruise control and keyless entry/ignition will flesh out the options list. The new saloon is just the start of the new C-class family. An estate, CLK coupe and cabriolet, sports coupe and X-class SUV should all be rolled out by 2008.

Design

The C-class will again resemble a junior S-class – but the futuristic-looking new limo that is due this autumn.

Engines

The line up bristles with new technology: new four- and sixpot diesels, and direct injection petrol engines.

Chassis

Bigger track and wheelbase to boost interior space; new steering rack and suspension to improve handling.



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