MERCEDES-BENZ: New C-Class saloon and estate revealed
Mercedes-Benz has unveiled the sixth-generation of its ‘bread-and-butter’ C-Class model. It has been the German marque’s best-selling model of the last decade and this new iteration gets a host of improvements, including technology trickled down from the S-Class.
Mercedes-Benz UK has yet to release prices and specifications for its local line-up, but you’ll be able to order yours from Tuesday, 30th March, with first deliveries expected in the summer. The C-Class will continue its decades-long rivalry with the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4 and, perhaps, the Volkswagen Arteon.
The new C-Class’ front end gets angled LED headlights and a wide grille that will come with chrome stars on AMG Line models. The bonnet is heavily sculpted but the designers have left swathes of the side panels largely free of creases.
The rear gets split tail-lights for the first time, which are triangular and similar to those on Mercedes’ other saloons. Alloy wheel options come in 17- to 19-inch sizes and there are three new paint colours.
The C-Class has an interior that’s almost as luxurious as the one in the latest S-Class. Digital dials and a large portrait touchscreen are standard, although both can be upgraded to the impressive screens shown in our pictures. The touchscreen features the very latest ‘MBUX’ software and a ‘Hey Mercedes’ voice assistant and updates for both are done ‘over-the-air’.
Longer and wider than the outgoing model, the new C-Class offers more space for passengers. Shoulder and elbow room for all occupants has improved and those in the rear will enjoy extra head and leg room. Saloons offer up to 455 litres of boot space - the same as the last car - while C-Class estates offer 30 litres more at 490 litres, or up to 1,510 litres with row two seatbacks folded.
High-end technology from the S-Class has made its way onto the C-Class’ options list. You can add features like a head-up display, augmented reality front view and ‘Digital Light’ headlights that project guide lines or warnings onto the road ahead. Rear seat heating is available for the first time too. Even if you don’t add them on when you spec the car, some features can be added retrospectively by subscribing to them in the ‘Mercedes me Store’.
Mild hybrid (MHEV) powertrains
In hugely disappointing news, there won’t be any six or eight-cylinder engines this time around; all engines have four-cylinders and all the standard ones come with mild-hybrid assistance. A four-pot AMG isn’t going to sound quite the same. There’s no manual cogbox either as a nine-speed automatic gearbox is fitted across the entire range; the gearbox and 4MATIC four-wheel-drive system have both been updated for efficiency.
The engine range commences with a 1.5-litre petrol unit tuned to 168 bhp in the C 180 and 201 bhp in the C 200. Both the C 200 and the C 300 (using a 254 bhp 2.0-litre engine) may be ordered with four-wheel drive. The petrol engines return between 40-45 mpg depending on the engine, and even the lowest-powered one reaches 0-62mph in 8.6 seconds; the C 300 reduces that to a flat six seconds.
Both the C 220d and C 300d use a 2.0-litre diesel engine, with 197 bhp and 261 bhp respectively. The C-Class shows that diesel engines can still be very impressive - the C 300d dismisses the 0-62mph time in just 5.8 seconds and is said to manage over 56mpg.
Plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powertrains
Many a C-Class has found its way onto a company’s fleet inventory, so it’s hardly surprising that the previous generation of C-Class PHEVs were so popular due to their attractively lower tax rates than petrol or diesel models.
This time around, Mercedes-Benz has improved its plug-in hybrids even further with the claim that you’ll be able to drive up to 62 miles on electric power alone. That’s around double the distance the outgoing C-Class PHEV can manage and hardly any other PHEVs can travel further on battery power alone.
To stretch the battery-only electric range as far as possible, the top speed in electric mode is limited to 87 mph and the long electric range means it should be much more economical for motorway journeys than before. Once you need to recharge, the C-Class can be ordered with a 55kW DC rapid charger, which will fully top up the battery in only half an hour.
All PHEV models come with air suspension as standard and Mercedes-Benz designers have succeeded in removing that irritating step in the boot. It means through-loading is now possible and the boot space in the saloon has increased accordingly to 360 litres - a useful gain of 45 litres. The total capacity in the estate has risen by a similar amount to 1,375 litres, and a diesel PHEV will join the range later on.
Plug-in hybrid models also come with a specific satnav system that can decide when to engage the electric mode based on route, speed limits, traffic conditions and the landscape. The one-pedal driving experience you get in purely electric cars can be done in ‘D-’ mode, which helps recharge the battery on the fly.
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