By: IOL Motoring Staff

Mercedes-Benz has just opened up the South African order book for its all-new C-Class, which will be launched in June this year.

But the big news is that we now know how much you'll pay for the eagerly-awaited new model, which is no longer the smallest sedan in the line-up, thanks to the front-wheel drive CLA having joined the ranks last year.

Now take a deep breath…

C-CLASS PRICES:

C 180 - R415 900

C 200 - R436 600

C 220 BlueTEC - R459 000

C 250 - R502 600

*Prices include VAT but exclude CO2 tax.

LIGHTWEIGHT

The larger and technologically-loaded 2014 C-Class aims to set new standards in its class. To that end, it comes armed with an “intelligent lightweight design concept” that sheds up to 100kg off the kerb weight (despite it being 95mm longer and 40mm wider) as well as a barrage of new technologies and a range of frugal new engines.

NEW ENGINES

As you'll see above, the initial range offers a choice of just four engines, but Mercedes-Benz assures us that additional variants with bigger-capacity engines will join the line-up at a later stage.

For now the menu includes three petrol versions and one diesel; all are turbocharged and feature latest-generation direct fuel injection.

Petrol proceedings begin with a 1.6-litre in the C 180, which pushes 115kW and 250Nm, sprints to 100km/h 8.2 seconds and sips 5.0 litres per 100km on the combined cycle - those figures claimed by Mercedes-Benz.

Next up in the pecking order is a 2-litre petrol that's tuned to 135kW and 300Nm in the C 200 and 155kW/350Nm in C 250, with respective 0-100 times of 7.5 and 6.6 seconds and consumption of 5.3 litres per 100km in both cases.

The sole diesel option, for now, is a 2143cc unit in the C 220 BlueTec, credited with 125kW and 400Nm, an 8.2 sec 0-100km/h sprint and 4.0 l/100km thirst (or lack thereof).

AIR SUSPENSION

Like traditional 'Benzes, and unlike the CLA, power still goes through the back wheels, delivered through a new six-speed manual or 7G-Tronic Plus automatic gearbox.

In its quest to offer a smoother ride and pin-sharp road-holding, the C-Class comes with a new suspension system, comprising a four-link front axle and five-link rear end.

While the standard suspension is offered with an optional choice of three Direct Control systems with variable damping, the big news is the availability of air suspension.

This optionally-available Airmatic system features continuous variable damping at both ends and the driver can choose between four characteristic settings ranging from 'Comfort' through to 'Sport+'.

ASSISTANCE SYSTEMS

The technological barrage continues with a whole suite of new assistance systems that have filtered down from the latest E-Class and S-Class. Attention Assist is standard on the new C, as is Collision Prevention Assist Plus, which can automatically brake at speeds of up to 200km/h.

The long options list includes nice-to-haves like Distronic Plus with Steering Assist and Stop&Go Pilot, enhanced Active Lane Keeping Assist, Active Parking Assist, 360-degree parking camera and Adaptive Highbeam Assist Plus.

The new C's interior follows the trends set by the A-Class and CLA, with higher-grade materials and circular air vents. Of course, the cabin is larger than before, owing to the car's increased dimensions, and boot space has increased to 480 litres.

MUSIC, GADGETS

Music fans are in for a treat with a new multimedia system linked to a 17.78cm screen (or 21.33cm in Comand Online-equipped models). The sound system features Frontbass technology that aims to mimic the acoustic pleasure of a concert hall.

Of course, gadget junkies are well catered for with internet (including numerous apps) and diverse data sources available even in the most basic version.

As for exterior styling, most models come with the 'sporty' face with a centrally-positioned Mercedes star, while the 'Exclusive' line comes with a more traditional grille that pushes the star to the bonnet.

If the 'Exclusive' trim is not up your alley, you can also opt for 'Avantgarde' or 'AMG' lines. The latter does not include an engine upgrade, however. That we'll leave to the real AMG version.

H7 halogen headlights are standard, while two LED variants are available on the options list.