|.||The Mercedes designers were tasked with giving the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class a dynamic character which both instills affection and from the very first glance leaves no doubt about its pedigree. In short, the resulting sedan had to visually reflect Mercedes-Benzs new, progressive brand image. But, in addition to sporty dynamics and youthful attractiveness, the brief also specified embodying the typical elegance of a Mercedes sedan.
Dynamism and elegance, that was the aim. Some two dozen designers set to work, committed their visions and ideas to paper, discussed many hundreds of sketches and transferred the best of them to the virtual world of the computer so that they could experience them in three dimensions. The choice finally fell on a draft design which unites all the objectives in optimum fashion: dynamism, emotional appeal, elegance, solidity and continuity.
The headlamps are again character-shaping features. While the famous twin-headlamp face of the E-Class in 1995 was the visible signal of a new departure for the Mercedes-Benz brand, the C-Class re-interprets this symbolism, showing the next stage in the evolution of the Mercedes-Benzs face. Although the sedans four "eyes" are still identifiable , the design of the new C-Class has seen the oval headlamps merge into harmonious units in line with the basic brief of integration. The hood and fenders pick up this rounded finish and continue it backwards in sweeping curves, forming elegant sheet-steel sculptures. Associations with the human anatomy are inescapable, as the shape of the fenders is reminiscent of the muscles of trained athletes.
These athletic forms enhance the width of the cars body, giving a powerful appearance particularly when viewed from the front. This effect is reinforced by the bumper which is perfectly integrated in the bodywork with the discreetly molded spoiler edges in the lower section and the front fog lamps, especially as all the components use the same paintwork - in body color - and therefore present a unified whole in color terms too.
The interplay of dynamism and elegance is also seen in the radiator grille and headlamps. The designers have skillfully worked with different rake angles here to draw attention to the new C-Classs two features: while the slightly raked headlamps are reminiscent of a sports car, the fins and webs of the radiator grille are decidedly more upright. The effect of optically stretching the hood in this way is to give the car power and elegance.
Seen from the side too, the dynamic character of the new C-Class is the dominant first impression. This is ensured primarily by the pronounced wedge-shaped body which is particularly defined by the curve along the waistline. But the powerfully raked windshield, the coupé-like roof, and the flat backlight are unmistakable signals of a spirited use of forms with stylish emphases from the world of luxury sedans.
Like the headlamps, the rear lamps are now also regarded as typical stylistic elements of new Mercedes models with a sporty yet elegant character. The tail lamp covers extend in a wedge shape into the flanks of the body, underlining the cars sporty lines. This overlapping lamp design was first used on a standard-production car in the SLK roadster and then also caught the eye in the S-Class and the top-of-the-range CL coupé - not just because of its striking shape but also as an integrating style element for formally linking the side and tail sections.
Further similarities with other Mercedes models are seen in the V-shaped cut-out in the tail of the new C-Class, which is also formed by the tail lamps. They ensure the formal integration of the entire rear end creating the visual links between the fenders, trunk lid and bumper. At the same time, the trapezoidal tail lamp design and the large-format bumper emphasize the width of the sedan, which therefore also makes a particularly powerful impression from the rear. The bumper merges almost seamlessly into the body and also forms a unified entity in color terms with the elegant metal skirt.
Sporty elegance - this essential feature of the new C-Class is immediately apparent on getting into the car. The cockpit seems made-to-measure. The armrests, the new multifunction steering wheel and the gearshift lever form a perfect ergonomic whole - the driver takes his seat and has everything immediately within reach.
Beautiful forms, high-quality materials and modern color combinations define the visual framework of this ergonomically consummate cockpit. The outer air vents almost seem to be hovering, while the lower section of the dashboard flows almost seamlessly into the door linings. The dashboard is split into two, with the upper half consciously made dominant. The controls are not designed as individual switches, but instead are grouped together in special integrated panels.
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