"With the latest generation MBUX, rear-axle steering and comprehensive electrification, our most successful model range will once again raise the bar as the most sophisticated offering in its segment," said Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG CEO Ola Källenius.
"The letters C and S sit at opposite ends of the alphabet. However, in our portfolio they’re now moving closer together."
Bigger and better
With a length of 4751 mm and a width of 1820 mm, the Saloon and Estate models are considerably larger than their predecessors. The wheelbase has increased by 25mm to 2865mm.
Both the front and rear passengers benefit from the increased exterior dimensions. The cabin has grown slightly bigger with more elbow-room overall and more headroom and kneeroom in the rear. Making for a sporty flair, the dashboard and central display are slightly tilted towards the driver.
The good drag coefficient of the preceding models (Saloon: Cd 0.24, Estate: Cd 0.27) has been preserved despite the larger exterior dimensions.
Visually, the W206 C-Class appears to be in motion at a standstill, thanks to the combination of short front overhang, long wheelbase and rear overhang.
The sporty bonnet with power domes accentuates this urge of forward motion. The windscreen and passenger cell have been moved to the rear for these classic proportions known in the industry as "cab-backward design".
The new C-Class is equipped with LED High Performance headlamps as standard. The DIGITAL LIGHT system from the S-Class is available as an option. This revolutionary headlamp technology allows new functions, e.g. the projection of guide lines or warning symbols onto the road ahead.
The dashboard is divided into an upper and a lower section: into a wing-like section with new, flattened round vents reminiscent of aircraft engine nacelles, and into an opulent expanse of trim.
The driver area features a high-resolution LCD screen. It is free-standing, and appears to float in front of the wing profile and the expanse of trim. This sets the driver display apart from traditional cockpits with classic round dials. Customers have a choice between a 10.25-inch (26.0 cm) or a 12.3-inch (31.2 cm) version.
Like the new S-Class, the new C-Class is equipped with the second generation of MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience), making the interior more digital and intelligent. Software updates are made over-the-air.
The look of the screens can be individualised with three display styles (Discreet, Sporty, Classic) and three modes (Navigation, Assistance, Service). Full-screen navigation is possible as in the S-Class.
Electrified powertrains and 100km range
Thanks to systematic electrification and intelligent downsizing, the C-Class sets new standards in efficiency. The engine range has only four-cylinder units from the current modular FAME (Family of Modular Engines) engine family.
In addition to turbocharging, both the diesel and the petrol engines now have an integrated starter-generator (ISG) for intelligent assistance at low engine speeds as a mild hybrid of the second generation. This ensures outstanding power delivery. The ISG uses a 48 volt on-board electrical system that ensures functions such as gliding, boosting or energy recovery, and makes significant fuel savings possible.
Fourth-generation plug-in hybrids will follow soon after the launch.
With an electric output of 95kW (129hp) and an all-electric range of around 100km (WLTP), the plug-in hybrid C-Class will operate in all-electric mode in many cases - and on many days without using the combustion engine at all.
The mill is the two-litre variant of the ultra-modern M 254 four-cylinder engine. The complete package is not only very efficient, but also decidedly sporty. Diesel plug-in hybrid Saloon and Estate models will follow.
The 9G-TRONIC transmission was developed further for adapting the ISG, and is installed in all C-Class models.
The key components of the new, dynamically configured suspension are a new four-link axle at the front and a multi-link axle at the rear mounted to a subframe. The new suspension provides the basis for a high level of suspension, ride and noise comfort, agile handling and driving fun.
The new C-Class is optionally also available with continuously adjustable damping and a sport suspension. Air suspension at the rear is standard for both the Saloon and Estate models of the plug-in hybrids.
Compared to the previous C-Class series, the latest generation of the Driving Assistance Package has additional and advanced functions. These reduce driver workload in day-to-day situations, for more comfortable and safe driving.
The voice assistant "Hey Mercedes" becomes more interactive and capable of learning by activating online services in the Mercedes me App.
A party trick is that domestic equipment and household appliances can be controlled using the "Hey Mercedes" voice assistant of MBUX. Thanks to the Smart Home function, they can be networked with the vehicle and controlled remotely.
Apart from DIGITAL LIGHT, rear wheel steering, Augmented Video and colour head-up display are available as options.
The new C-Class will be produced at Mercedes plants in Bremen (Germany), Beijing (China) and East London (South Africa).
The first car under the C-Class designation was introduced in May 1993. All in all, over 10.5 million Mercedes-Benz cars in this category have been delivered to customers since 1982.
An Estate C-Class is also offered as two out of every three C-Class cars sold in Germany are of this body type.
According to C-Class chief engineer Christian Früh, "you don't (really) need any more car than this."
"If we go through the vehicle in detail, we find superb innovations and features for every taste wherever we look. And in the end, that's what distinguishes the C-Class."