2019 Mercedes C-Class gets semi-autonomous tech upgrade

Mercedes has revamped the C-Class, with the 2019 C300 packing more power, more efficiency, and more technology. The automaker's entry-level sedan keeps the 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder turbocharged engine of before, but nudges the power up to 255 horsepower, an increase of 14 HP. That's not the only change, mind.

The exterior of the four-door has been updated, too. Most noticeable are the redesigned front and rear bumpers, while the AMG-Line models get a diamond radiator grille as standard and special AMG bumpers. LED headlamps and taillamps are now standard across the range.

As an option, the lights can be upgraded to Mercedes' Intelligent Light System with ULTRA WIDE high-beams, too. Two new exterior colors have been added to the options list, and there are new, standard-fit 17-inch twin 5-spoke wheels as well.

Carried over is the 9G-TRONIC 9-speed automatic transmission and the 273 lb-ft. of torque from the four-pot engine. Again, Mercedes will be offering two core models in the US. Most affordable will be the 2019 Mercedes-Benz C300, with rear-wheel drive; alternatively, there'll be the 2019 C300 4MATIC, with all-wheel drive. Each has auto start/stop, a power sunroof, and keyless start with a new key design for the 2019 model year.

Inside is where the big changes have happened, however. The E-Class and S-Class have passed some of their technology down to their smaller sibling, kicking off with a new multifunction steering wheel with integrated touch-control navigation buttons. A 7-inch COMAND display screen and analog dials are standard, with a 5.5-inch LCD sandwiched in-between, though can be upgraded to a 10.25-inch COMAND screen and a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster.

The latter can be switched between three layouts: Classic, Sport, and Progressive. Meanwhile, the center display also has three layouts to choose between. Navigation is either through the new steering wheel's controls, or a touchpad in the center console with haptic feedback. There's voice control as well, including voice command support for select vehicle functions like turning the heated seats on and off. A head-up display is still optional, but has an increased range of adjustment.

Maybe most important, though, is the semi-autonomous and active safety features, also borrowed from Mercedes' more expensive cars. The Driver Assistance package includes Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC, an adaptive cruise control system which Mercedes says can see up to 1,640 feet ahead, 295 feet of which is scanned in 3D. The system can not only keep pace with traffic but stay in its lane, change lanes when the indicator stalk is tapped by the driver, and automatically slow down for upcoming road features like bends, junctions, and traffic circles.

Active Brake Assist is fitted as standard, while other safety tech like Active Emergency Stop Assist is optional. Active Blind Spot Assist can use single-sided braking to help avoid side collisions, and there's cross-traffic alerts and evasive steering assistance. The latter can help turn the car if the driver's own steering input is deemed insufficient by the C300 to successfully miss the peril.

Mercedes is also baking in Car-to-X communication, allowing the C-Class to talk with other cars from the automaker. That will give a warning if driving conditions change in the road ahead. That data can be used to automatically adjust the navigation instructions in the optional 3D mapping system. Other options include a Qi wireless charging bay for your phone, 64-color ambient lighting, and a Burmester audio system.

All in all, it's about taking the C-Class and bringing what's currently a fairly entry-level car up to speed with a lot of the technology you'd previously had to have stepped up to a far more expensive E-Class to attain. Pricing for the 2019 C300 and 2019 C300 4MATIC is yet to be announced, with Mercedes saying it'll confirm those details closer to the cars' arrival in the US later in 2018. We'll see the new C-Class in person at the Geneva Motor Show 2018 in early March.