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Mercedes-Benz’s 2015 C-Class is all grown up, with plenty of toys for tech-happy buyers

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class has traditionally been the baby of the Benz lineup, but not anymore. With the smaller, less expensive CLA-Class on dealer lots, it’s time for the redesigned 2015 C-Class to grow up.

The 2015 model certainly looks grown up. The styling is borrowed from the larger E-Class sedan, making the C-Class look like a mini version of that distinguish luxury cruiser. The new look is less formal than previous models, but not quite as out there as the CLA’s “four-door coupe” styling. Overall, it’s quite satisfying to the eye.

That new styling conceals a slightly larger body with a 3-inch longer wheelbase. Despite the growth that seems like an inevitable part of every redesign, Mercedes says the 2015 C-Class is 220 pounds lighter than before, yielding 20 percent better fuel efficiency without any sacrifice in performance. That sounds like a pretty good deal.

Two flavors of C-Class will initially be offered in the United States. The C300 4Matic will have a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 235 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque, while the C400 4Matic will have a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6, which produces 329 hp and 354 lb-ft.

Both models will be offered exclusively with seven-speed automatic transmissions and (you guessed it) 4Matic all-wheel drive. Rear-wheel drive versions be be added later, along with an AMG performance model.

The 2015 C-Class is also the first car in its class to be offered with air suspension, Mercedes says. The Airmatic system features four modes: “Comfort”, “Eco”, “Sport”, and “Sport+”, and a customizable “Individual” mode.

As for the interior, Mercedes apparently tried to create the same sporty look as the exterior, albeit less successfully. The thick-rimmed steering wheel and three center-stack air vents look cartoonishly oversized, and the fixed infotainment screen looks a bit cheap for a Mercedes.

That’s okay because tech-happy buyers will probably be distracted by the number of gadgets anyway. The list includes a head-up display (HUD), Mercedes’ “Comand” infotainment system, and an air conditioning system that uses GPS data.

The 2015 C-Class isn’t short on safety features either. Driver aids include: Attention Assist,¬†Attention Assist, Adaptive Brake Assist, Collision Prevention Assist Plus, Distronic Plus with Steering Assist, Brake Assist System Plus and Enhanced Active Lane Keeping Assist, as well as Active Park Assist, a 360-degree camera and Traffic Sign Assist with Wrong-Way Alert.

If all of those systems fail, there’s also a bevy of airbags, including pelvis bags for front-seat occupants and a new window bag. You’ll have to forgive us, but ‘pelvis bag’ makes us giggle.

In the flurry of airbag listing, Mercedes didn’t say exactly when the 2015 C-Class would go on sale, but don’t be surprised if it shows up at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show in January. Pricing will be announced closer to the on-sale date.