Sporty agility: shock absorbers that change with the driving situation
The unique blend of agility and comfort that forms one of the exceptional strengths of the new C-Class is basically down to the standard-fit AGILITY CONTROL package. This features shock absorbers which automatically adapt to the current driving situation for a noticeable improvement in ride comfort when driving normally. As soon as a more dynamic driving style is adopted, on the other hand, the maximum damping forces are set to stabilise the estate effectively. A steering system that is six per cent more direct and a short-throw six-speed manual transmission also form part of the AGILITY CONTROL package.
The dynamic handling package that is available as an option bestows the new C-Class Estate with a degree of agility worthy of out-and-out sports cars. The driver is able to choose from two drive modes which determine the fundamental suspension characteristic: Comfort and Sport.
Within these modes, the shock absorbers at each wheel are regulated by means of an infinitely variable electronic control. What’s more, the body is lowered by 15 mm and the suspension equipped with shorter springs and thicker torsion bars. The dynamic handling package also encompasses the new speed-sensitive power steering with a more direct ratio and variable centring.
The body index devised by engineers at Mercedes clearly illustrates just how agile the new C-Class Estate is on the road. This index is calculated from the readings for various driving manoeuvres, thereby forming a new composite formula for a vehicle’s dynamic handling abilities. The larger the body index, the better the suspension is linked to the body and the firmer the suspension's tuning. The standard AGILITY CONTROL suspension gives the C-Class a body index of 1.91 to 2.01 hertz, while the new model attains sports-car-like values of up to 2.46 hertz with the dynamic handling package fitted.
Kitting out the new estate with the AMG sports package adds a sports suspension with shorter springs and firmer shock absorbers to the specification, along with 17-inch light-alloy wheels. The body is also dropped by 15 mm.
Hallmark Mercedes quality: the safest car in itS-Class
The C-Class Estate has come through an exhaustive programme of testing, during which it demonstrated its typical Mercedes-like levels of safety in over 100 crash tests in all. The occupant protection concept is underpinned by an intelligently designed bodyshell, 70 per cent of which consists of high-strength and ultra-high-strength grades of steel. The front-end structure comprises four impact levels which act independently of one another and enable forces to be distributed over a wide area while bypassing the passenger cell. The occupants are protected by a total of seven airbags as standard. The driver, front passenger and the passengers on the outer rear seats also benefit from belt tensioners and belt force limiters.
The NECK-PRO head restraints in the front have a crash-responsive design, meaning that they move to cushion the heads of the driver and front passenger at an early stage in a rear-end collision to guard against the risk of whiplash. The integrated child seats, which fold out of the rear bench seat have undergone further development and are now also fitted with a wraparound head restraint.
Standard features such as the flashing brake lights, Brake Assist and Electronic Stability Program make vital contributions to accident prevention. The ESP system now incorporates additional functions: not only does it monitor the tyre pressure, it also helps to enhance safety when towing a trailer with an automatic trailer stabilisation function.
The anticipatory occupant protection system PRE-SAFE gives the new estate the edge over other models in this segment. This optional system makes use of the time before an imminent accident to prepare the vehicle and its occupants for a collision. The result is a considerable reduction in the loads exerted on the passengers upon impact. The Intelligent Light System is another technical innovation borrowed from the higher-end models in the Mercedes range and is the only system of its kind in this market segment at the current time. The system’s five different lighting functions are each suited to various typical driving and weather conditions.