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Swimwear designers take on Mercedes-Benz C-Class

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Though the car is not yet in showrooms, those attending the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week activities in Miami Beach are getting a sneak peak at the German automaker’s 2015 C-Class sedan.

Sort of.

Swimwear designers put their own special touches on the cars on display this week at the 10th annual edition of the show, covering the car with exotic wraps featuring wild animals, flowers, stripes and more.

Auto journalists got a quick overview of the company’s best-selling model at a media luncheon Thursday at the event’s headquarters, the Raleigh Hotel.

Bart Herring of MBUSA Product Management noted that with the all-new CLA now serving as the entry-level vehicle for the Mercedes lineup, designers and engineers were able to expand on the C-Class for 2015.

No longer is the C-Class the “Baby Benz” of the family but is “more powerful, faster, and also more fuel efficient,” he said.

It’s also slightly larger than its predecessor — 1.5 inches wider and 3.7 inches longer with a wheelbase extended 3.0 inches to 112 inches — but also about 220 pounds lighter thanks to the extensive use of aluminum. The extra length provides more room for passengers and expands trunk space to a whopping 17 cubic feet.

It will be offered in two trim levels, the C300 with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with the choice of rear- or all-wheel drive and the C400. The C400 has a 3.0-liter bi-turbo V6 under the hood that produces 329 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque, 88 hp and 81 more lb.-ft. than the C300. The C400 is equipped with the company’s 4MATIC all-wheel drive.

Both cars come with a seven-speed automatic transmission.

Neither mileage figures or pricing is available yet but will be announced soon. Herring said no big jump is expected in price for the new C-Class with the MSRP expected to start in the high-$30,000 range.

The new C-Class also will get a heavy dose of technology handed down from the top-of-the-line S-Class, including a heads-up display that keeps information such as the car’s speed, the prevailing speed limit, navigation information and messages from the Distronic Plus system on the driver’s field of vision on the windshield.

The car will be build at the company’s plant in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and is scheduled for its big launch in late August or early September.

It will be available in 10 colors, but, alas, not with the exotic designs on display during Fashion Week.