Look to the Future: Mercedes-Benz C-class

A common complaint about Mercedes-Benz sedans is that they are too similar. With the introduction of a brand new S-Class, that has been solved for a while, but a new C-Class is on the way.

To what extent different models should resemble each other is a major issue for many car builders and designers. On the one hand you want a strong family image, but on the other it is nice if models do not only differ in size. Jaguar’s former top designer Ian Callum was responsible for an XE and XF that resemble each other like two drops of water, but he once said to Techzle that he later regretted it. The fact that Mercedes-Benz often consciously looks for the similarity, is particularly visible in the C, E and S class. The S-class set the tone in 2013. The C-Class and E-Class that followed in 2014 and 2017 respectively are, at first glance, simply smaller versions of Mercedes’ outgoing top sedan. The headlights, the rear lights, the shape of the side windows and the voluptuous crease in the sides: it all roughly matches.

Doubts about two-door

With the new S-class, which was unveiled in September, the top limousine is again easy to distinguish. However, it appears Mercedes is sticking to its ‘Matryoshka policy’. The market launch of an all-new ‘C’ is imminent, and everything indicates that this model will follow its big brother in design terms. This means that the C-class also takes a different path in certain areas, without violating the existing drawing style too much. The pinched light units at the front and rear are the clearest example of this. The headlights are placed higher in the nose, while the grille is lowered slightly. However, the grille remains smaller than with the S-class, which has carried a very impressive fence since the generation change. Another difference from the S-class is that the ‘C’ has its brand logo in the grille, while the ‘S’ still has it on top of the nose. There was once such a classic front for the C-class, but it is not expected to return to the Dutch market.

Pointed, horizontally oriented LED light units appear at the rear. Where the entire unit is now still next to the boot lid, the inner part will soon move to the lid. The light units are connected by a striking chrome strip, which contributes to a rear that looks wider and tighter than it is now. In addition to the sedan, there will of course also be an Estate. The arrival of Coupé and Convertible versions is a lot less certain. Mercedes has overruled itself a bit by offering two-door versions of the C-, E- and S-class and reportedly wants to partially merge those models.

Four-cylinder for AMGs

The new Mercedes-Benz C-Class will soon be on a renewed version of the current MRA platform. On the motor level, we will undoubtedly get more and better plug-in hybrids. The recently presented, facelifted E-class serves as an example and now has no fewer than seven plug-in versions, divided between sedans and estates and with petrol and diesel engines. Those who do not (yet) want to plug in, will soon have to deal with mild hybrid technology, under the name EQ Boost. That same ‘EQ’ explains why we shouldn’t expect a fully electric C-class, as that role is already being fulfilled by the EQC and a whole host of future EQ models. What is also about to happen with the AMG versions is special. It is expected that both the six-cylinder from the ‘mild’ C43 and the eight-cylinder from the fierce C63 will be replaced by a four-cylinder with electrical assistance. They should help the new C53 and C63 with a gigantic amount of power, but the big question is whether they are also up to their predecessors in terms of experience.

Fencing Revolution

Just like the outside, the technical side is in many ways a further development of what we now know from the C-class. However, there is one area where a true revolution is taking place: the interior. Once again it is the S class that serves as a blueprint. The horizontal, wide-spread screen combination makes way for a separate screen behind the wheel and a much larger, vertically placed one that extends over the center console. A renewed MBUX environment should ensure that Mercedes can maintain its unmistakable lead in this area. The design also leads to a somewhat tighter, more straight-lined dashboard than the voluptuous one in the current C-class. Although die-hard Mercedes drivers will have to get used to it again, the whole thing gets a typical Mercedes appearance thanks to large pieces of wood, diamond-stitched leather and an abundance of mood lighting. As a classic, rear-wheel drive sedan, such a C-class touches the core of the brand. Just like an S class, by the way.

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