Mercedes-Benz has released a lighter, larger and more luxurious 2015 C-Class.

Since Mercedes introduced the CLA-Class last year to serve the entry-level market, the C-Class was free to move further up-market. This allows the C-Class to more strongly challenge rivals such as the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Lexus IS.

The C-Class is all-new for 2015 and manages to lose 220 lbs despite growing 3.7 inches in length and 1.6 inches in width. This makes the C-Class about 20% more fuel efficient yet more spacious inside.

Bearing a resemblance to its larger siblings, the E-Class and S-Class, the new C-Class has a bold grille leading a long hood. The short overhangs and set back cabin keep its appearance balanced, while the large wheels hint at a sporty character.

To say a Mercedes-Benz has a luxurious interior is an understatement, but the 2015 C-Class improves upon the outgoing model. A touchscreen and rotary dial controller remove clutter and the array of wood and aluminum finishes are very attractive.

At launch, the C-Class is available with a choice of two engines. Base C300 models come with a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder rated at 241 hp and the C400 is powered by a 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 producing 328 hp.

Both engines are mated to a seven-speed automatic and come with Mercedes’ 4MATIC all-wheel drive system.

Future models will likely be available with hybrid and diesel powertrains, as well as a high-performance AMG variant.

Thanks to its considerable weight loss, the 2015 C-Class feels more agile than its predecessor. The optional AIRMATIC suspension is a worthy addition as it allows the driver to choose from four settings – Comfort, ECO, Sport and Sport+ – to dial in the ride to suit their mood.

Tell us what you think about the 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Will it steal customers from Audi and BMW?