Last week Michael Schumacher tested the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class. You might have expected him to expound on the car’s sporting intent. Or wax lyrically about its adeptness at tackling the bends – hinting to ambitions of dethroning that venerable BMW 3-Series. Instead, he praised the reaction time of the driver assistance safety systems.

Details of the next C-Class have been released. It’s expected that Mercedes-Benz would play a safe game with their widely-loved high-volume seller. The new C-Class looks much like a shrunken version of the latest flagship S-Class, launched in South Africa earlier this year.

About 100 kilograms have been shed, compared to the outgoing model. Greater emphasis has been placed on aerodynamics. More aluminium has been used and to reduce noise, vibration and harshness the engineers have gone to pedantic lengths. Like making the air-conditioner blowers and electric window operations quieter, more efficient.

Petrol, hybrid and petrol engines are on offer. Five four-cylinder petrol engines with outputs ranging between 115kW and 175kW are available. There’s a six-cylinder 245kW engine too. A new, small diesel engine is there in two flavours: 85kW or 100kW. Finally, Mercedes added a hybrid derivative, which uses a diesel mill and an electric motor. Derivatives for our market are yet to be confirmed.

The suspension was redeveloped; with a multi-link set-up at the rear and the option of air suspension. An electromechanical steering system has been adopted, with speed sensitive power assistance. As for those assistance systems Schumacher lauded; they’re standard across the board. This includes Adaptive Brake Assist – which hits the brake if you don’t react timeous to an obstacle. And Attention Assist, which detects your level of drowsiness.

People are getting taller, according to Mercedes-Benz. And the C-Class has grown too. It’s longer by 95mm, wider by 40mm and has an 80mm wheelbase increase. Boot capacity is rated at 480 litres. It’s arriving in 2014 and on paper, looks like it might give the 3-Series and aged Audi A4 things to worry about.