2014 Mercedes C-Class preview

* Interior of 2014 Mercedes C-Class revealed * New switchgear and improved infotainment system * Car officially unveiled in January 2014; on sale June...

2014 Mercedes C-Class preview

This is the interior of the new Mercedes C-Class executive saloon, which will compete with the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series when it goes on sale in the UK next June.

What Car? has already sat in a pre-production model, and it showed that buyers can expect a big step up in perceived quality over the current car.

There are virtually no hard plastics, even low down in the cabin, plus the dashboard is attractively styled, and the new C-Class is the first Mercedes to get the company's new generation of switchgear.

Climate functions are controlled using a line of metal rocker switches, similar to the ones in the latest S-Class limo. 

Meanwhile, most other systems are accessed through an improved version of Mercedes' Comand interface.

As before, you scroll through on-screen menus using a rotary dial positioned between the front seats. However, there's now a rest for your wrist that doubles as a touchpad with haptic feedback and smartphone-style responses.

From next year this touchpad will gradually be introduced to other Mercedes models, starting with the S-Class.

It's fortunate, then, that the system is intuitive, although we'll have to wait until we drive the new C-Class to see just how easy it is to use on the move.

What we can tell you now is that there's space for four adults in the cabin. However, rear-seat comfort could be better because there's no room for your feet beneath the optional front sports seats when they're set in their lowest position.

The new C-Class is between 100 and 150kg lighter that its predecessor (depending on model), which will help improve both performance and efficiency.

What's more, Mercedes is promising that left- and right-hand drive cars will perform equally well in a crash because the structure of the new C-Class is completely mirrored when the steering wheel is moved across.

Hopefully, this will also mean the pedals aren't heavily offset to the right of the steering wheel as they are in the current C-Class.

Even though the C-Class is one of the cheaper models in the Mercedes range, it will be available with all the company's latest safety tech.

Buyers will also be able to specify air suspension – something that's not available in any rival model – and the Magic Body Control system from the S-Class, which uses a stereo camera to read the road ahead so it can prepare the suspension for bumps.

We understand that the styling of the new C-Class also borrows heavily from the S-Class, and that the C will eventually spawn a whole family of models; everything from a practical estate to a sleek five-door hatch that's designed to take on the Audi A5 Sportback.

Another model that will use the platform is the second-generation version of Mercedes GLK SUV. Unlike its predecessor, this will be offered in right-hand-drive markets.