The C-Class is the most important model from Mercedes. It’s good that the new generation drives up like a shrunk S-Class. All details.
The Baby has done well. The nickname of the first mid-size sedan from Mercedes was not necessarily meant nicely. But the Mercedes 190 aka “Baby Benz” sold excellently for more than 10 years. The C-Class, as Mercedes called the BMW 3 Series competitor from 1993, followed on seamlessly. Now, with the 206 series, the fifth generation of the world’s best-selling Mercedes series is coming.
Surprises are inherent in that they are not expected. Anyone who was expecting a surprising C-Class deep inside them has not recently followed the model policy at Mercedes. Careful further development on the outside, technical predictability under the sheet metal – this is how one proceeds at Mercedes. It is no different with the C-Class.
Nevertheless, two innovations stand out: Firstly, there will no longer be a C-Class with an upright star on a shiny chrome radiator grille. Second, there will be no more space for an engine with more than four cylinders behind the large central star that is always emblazoned on the radiator grille. The former, because the C-Class is supposed to signal sportiness even more than before (and to reduce air resistance). The second, because it has to do this more efficiently in the future for environmental and consumption reasons (i.e. with lower CO2 emissions). That is why all engines in the new C-Class are electrified. But more on that later.
Dimensions increased by seven centimeters
To the familiar: The new C-Class grows by around seven centimeters with the generation change. Makes an impressive 4.75 meters long. And optically it stretches towards the S-Class. Headlights and especially the tapered taillights are reminiscent of their big brother. Mercedes has been doing without pronounced folds in the flank for a long time. However, Mercedes designed the proportions more dynamically and set the passenger cabin far back.
Mercedes is doing the same with the T-model presented at the same time as the sedan. At the rear of the station wagon, tapered taillights also move in the middle. The middle class is thus somewhat reminiscent of the CLA Shooting Brake, which is one level lower. The T-model does not differ in length from the sedan. However, because of the sharp spoiler lip at the rear, it is not quite as aerodynamic as the sedan. The drag coefficient is still very low at 0.27. The sedan even manages 0.24.
LED technology shines on the front of the C-Class as standard, with matrix light as an option. As with the S-Class, it has a resolution of 2.6 million pixels and can thus precisely illuminate the traffic area.
You can feel the increased length in the interior. The legroom for passengers on the back seat has increased by more than two centimeters, while the shoulders and elbows at the front enjoy similar increases. In the trunk of the sedan does not do, it still offers 455 liters of volume. But with 490 liters, the T-model can now load 30 more than before. With the rear seat folded down, 1,510 liters fit in, also an increase of 30 liters.
A cockpit like in the S-Class
The model change is most noticeable in the cockpit. Again the S-Class is the model. So there is a free-standing digital display in front of the steering wheel, which is available with 10.25 and 12.3 inch diagonals. A head-up display is optionally available in the car. With a size of 23 by eight centimeters, the projection, which is optically 4.5 meters away, is smaller than that of the S-Class.
The arrangement of the infotainment system is in perfect harmony with the luxury sedan. Mercedes builds a screen measuring either 9.5 or 11.9 inches in a slight portrait format in the center console. Almost everything can be controlled by touch and swipe, there is no longer a rotary push button or the touchpad last used at Mercedes on the center tunnel. At the bottom of the screen there are still some control surfaces, including a fingerprint scanner, with which the user can clearly identify himself and load his own profile with his favorite settings.
A large part of the operation is to take place via the second generation MBUX system voice assistant (Mercedes Benz User Interface). It understands many commands without having to memorize special commands and is constantly learning. Anyone who lives in a so-called “Smart Home” can even use MBUX to control shutters, electrical devices or the heating and monitor the interior – provided that all of this is networked accordingly, can always be controlled online and remotely.
And it goes without saying that the C-Class is always online. If updates are available for MBUX, these can be automatically transferred “Over the Air” (OTA) to the car and installed. Mercedes even promises functions that “haven’t even been invented today”. In the meantime, services such as music streaming services can be booked over the cellular network.
No more six-cylinders in the C-Class
The rolling computer continues to be primarily driven by classic combustion engines. There will be no fully electrified C-Class on this basis. But Mercedes electrified all drives. The well-known all-purpose diesel called OM 654 with mild hybrid technology is coming for the first time. Mercedes revised it in detail and thus increased the displacement slightly to 1,992 cc (previously 1,950 cc). Above all, however, an integrated starter generator is added to a 48-volt electrical system. If necessary, the boosts with up to 15 kW output or relieves the diesel. In the largest expansion stage, the C 300 d, the diesel alone has an output of 195 kW (265 hp). The 220 d has 147 kW (200 hp). According to the NEDC, the consumption is 5.0 to 5.3 liters according to Mercedes, and 4.9 to 5.8 liters according to the WLTP.
In addition to the two diesels, Mercedes is offering three petrol engines at the start. Both are also mildly hybridized with 48 volts and ISG. The entry-level model is the C 180 with a 1.5-liter turbo petrol engine and 125 kW (170 hp), the same engine is in the C 200, but here it has an output of 150 kW (204 hp). For the time being, the most powerful variant will be the C 300 with a 2.0-liter gasoline engine and 190 kW (258 hp). Mercedes couples all engines to a nine-speed automatic, the C 200 and C 300 optionally come with 4Matic all-wheel drive. In the best case, the data sheet shows a consumption of 6.2 liters, in the worst case 7.3 liters according to the NEDC. The WLTP consumption is between 6.2 and 7.9 liters.
Plug-in hybrids from early 2022
More electric drive power will be added to the portfolio a little later. Like the E-Class, the C-Class will also be available as a diesel or gasoline plug-in hybrid. First, the gasoline engine with the 2.0-liter engine comes from the C 300. It is supplemented by an electric motor with 95 kW (129 hp). The diesel PHEV with 2.0-liter four-cylinder and electric motor comes later with the same electrical components. In addition to the electric motor, this is a battery with 25.4 kWh capacity from our own development. The battery should be good for 100 kilometers of purely electric range.
To ensure that the large battery is quickly full, Mercedes is installing a three-phase onboard charger with an output of 11 kW as standard. This can be used to charge at public AC power stations or at home wallboxes. As an option, Mercedes also offers a charger for direct current columns. With 55 kW charging power, it takes around 30 minutes until the battery is full.
However, the battery requires slight compromises in terms of charge volume. Although Mercedes has eliminated the previous step in the luggage compartment, the storage space has increased by 45 liters in the T-model compared to its predecessor. But there are still only 360 liters. With the rear seat folded down, 1,375 liters fit into the estate rear of the T-model. Always on board with the PHEVs: air suspension with level control on the rear axle.
Revised chassis, new assistants
Otherwise, the chassis has been revised in many details. The four-link axle at the front is new, while a revised multi-link rear axle is used at the rear. Sports suspension and adaptive suspension are available as options. In addition, Mercedes is offering rear-axle steering in the C-Class for the first time. This achieves a maximum steering angle of 2.5 degrees and reduces the turning circle by 43 centimeters to 10.64 meters. Mercedes then translates the front-wheel steering more directly.
Most of the assistance systems already familiar from the S-Class are also used in the C-Class. However, there will be no level 3 functionality for partially automated driving. Like its big brother, the C-Class is able to independently form an emergency lane in a traffic jam. The Distronic adapts the speed to the course of the road and speed limits, and significantly more traffic signs are recognized than before.
The new C-Class can be ordered from March 30, 2021, and it will be available at dealerships in summer 2021. Prices are not yet available, we expect a slight increase compared to the model that is being phased out. The sedan C 180 currently costs around 37,500 euros, the diesel C 220 d starts at just under 43,000 euros. Depending on the variant, the T-model is around 1,700 euros more expensive.