Mercedes has released details of the facelifted C-Class, due to be unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in March, and while its exterior shows only minor changes it also inherits some fancy convenience and driver assistance technologies from the bigger E and S-Classes.

The updates apply to both sedan and estate models, which now both feature redesigned head and tail light units. As before, headlights come as standard with halogen illumination but LED running lights are standard in all models. These can be upgraded to full LED lamps on request, or, for the first time on a C-Class, Multibeam LEDs with Ultra Range high beams.

The Multibeam lights use 84 individually controlled globes to shape the beam for given situations such as oncoming traffic, changing weather or when turning. Merc says its Ultra Range high beams produce the maximum amount of light allowed legally, but can only be used when no other road users are detected, the steering wheel is straight, and the speed is above 40km/h.

All derivatives get new front bumpers with either silver, chrome or three-part chrome trim strips for Standard, Avantgarde and Exclusive trim lines respectively, while the sportiest AMG-Line now gets a diamond grille as standard. Rear bumpers have also been reshaped with model-specific lower sections and tailpipe trims.

New options for dash and console trims include open-pore brown walnut or anthracite oak, and interior colour choices have been expanded with magma grey/black or saddle brown for the AMG Line exclusively.

The C’s steering wheel inherits the Blackberry-like touch-sensitive thumb pads from the E and S, and cruise control functionality has moved from a stalk to the wheel itself. The centre console touch controller has been upgraded with haptic click feedback, but users can also control vehicle systems with Merc’s recently upgraded Linguatronic voice control.

As in the recently-updated S-Class, a new optional Energising Comfort Control package uses climate control, seats, interior lighting and the audio system to uplift drivers’ moods with special fragrances, massages and music presets. There’s also a new Multicontour Seat package with pneumatically adjustable side bolsters and lumbar support.

The C’s standard driver assistance functions have been tweaked with newly-developed Active Lane Change and Emergency Stop Assist systems, and the optional Distronic cruise control now uses GPS map data to predictively adjust speeds when approaching bends, intersections or roundabouts. An improved camera system allows the car to “see” up to 500m ahead, while updated radars scan 250m to the front, 40m to the side and 80m to the rear. Mercedes says the new C-Class can drive semi-autonomously in certain situations, but hasn’t elaborated on system parameters yet.

The most visible change, however, is in the instrument cluster which can now be specced as a fully digital 31.2cm screen with customisable Classic, Sport and Progressive background graphics. Here it’s also possible to view navigation maps and dedicated Eco displays to help drivers save a bit of fuel. A standard cluster still uses analogue gauges with a smaller 14cm colour multifunction screen at its centre.

The central infotainment display is as before available with a 17.8cm colour screen, but this can now be upgraded to a bigger 26cm unit optionally. This display also comes with three customisable background styles.

Power hike

Mercedes-Benz South Africa can’t yet confirm engine upgrades, but we suspect the C300 will be boosted from 180kW to 190 as per international specification while torque stays the same at 370Nm. The C200 is also expected to a slight power hike as part of the brand’s move to EQ Boost mild hybrid drive systems, but we can’t yet say what new outputs will be. The C220d will also likely get a slight upgrade in power.

The updated C-Class will be on sale in South Africa toward the end of June or early in July.

Drive 360