The revised C-Class features updated looks, a better quality interior, a revised engine range and safety gear that can keep you from straying from your lane into guardrails or other cars.
Some four years since the W204 C-Class debuted, Mercedes-Benz has given the car an extensive make-over.
New headlights, bonnet and bumpers are the most obvious outward changes. The new aluminium bonnet and front guard shave 10kg off the car's weight.
Surprisingly for a mid-life facelift, the renewed C-Class features a redesigned interior that eliminates the outgoing version's pop-up entertainment and navigation screen.
The steering wheel is squarer and classier than before. We especially like the galvanised steel elements.
It really shouldn't be that big a deal, but the new model features a high-res, full colour screen in the middle of the speedo.
Whether it's showing simple trip computer readouts, safety warnings, nav instructions or letting us control our musical destiny, it looks fantastic and gave us a buzz every time we stepped into the car.
The base sound system, dubbed Audio 20, has CD, Bluetooth hands-free and streaming, USB and iPhone/iPod connectivity.
A 5.8-inch 400x240 display is standard with Audio 20.
C-Class models with the 7-inch 800x480 Comand APS entertainment and nav system feature an Australian first: in-dash internet connectivity.
The system requires a phone that supports the Bluetooth dial-up networking standard.
In addition to web surfing, drivers can access Google destination searches. Routes and itineraries worked out on the desktop version of Google Maps can also be transferred wirelessly to the car.
Cars with the Comand APS system have CD/DVD, Bluetooth hands-free and streaming, an SD card slot, USB port, direct iPod/iPhone connectivity and 10GB of hard-disk space devoted to music storage.
With plastic engine covers in place, it's hard to tell what's powering your C-Class.
Load me up
The C-Class wagon, or Estate in Merc parlance, is optional on all four-cylinder models and is AU$2K more expensive than the equivalent sedan.
The coupe arrives in Australia in July, while the refreshed C63 sports model is scheduled for September 2011.
Three petrol engine options are available. The C200 has a 135kW/270Nm 1.8-litre turbo and the C250 a 150kW/310Nm version of that same engine. A 3.5-litre 185kW/340Nm V6 resides under the bonnet of the C300.
All four-cylinder versions of the new C-Class are available now. The V6s arrive in Q3.
The front-facing radar used for the active cruise control system hides behind the large, glossy three-pointed star in the grille.
A seven-speed automatic is the only transmission offered on the new four- and six-cylinder C-Classes.
The tail-lights have been subtly refashioned with more LED elements, including light tubes.
Not only does LED lighting look cool, it helps car makers increase fuel economy fractionally.
Xenon headlight-equipped C-Classes follow the driver's steering inputs, making it easier to "see around corners" at night.
Fog lights, both front and rear, are standard throughout the C-Class range, as are LED driving lights.
Blind Spot Assist
Radars concealed in the rear corners of the C-Class detect when another car's in your blind spot and light up a red warning triangle in the corresponding wing mirror.
Cars fitted with Active Blind Spot Assist go a step further and, if you ignore the prior warnings, can brake the appropriate wheels to keep you in your lane.
Active Lane Keeping Assist
For Lane Keeping Assist, a camera on the windscreen monitors your position within your lane. If the car starts straying into another lane without indicating, it will send a very subtle warning through the steering wheel that feels like running over lane markers.
Cars with Active Lane Keeping Assist can brake the outside wheels to keep you in your lane should you not pay heed to its earlier warnings.