Is an inanimate car sentient as the banner headlines suggest? with driverless technology and voice-activated computer assistants perhaps we are getting close to an age when cars will become… humanized. That day, whenever it arrives will have to wait because the new Mercedes C Class is here. It appears a disgruntled Mercedes employee couldn’t wait and decided to leak the reveal a day early, all over the interweb. So here it is, the new C Class, slightly bigger and slightly longer than the W205 it replaces. It is a distillation of the S Class, E Class and A Class saloon all in one neat and tidy looking package. Clearly, Mercedes has adopted an evolutionary approach to the exterior design language, but the W206 looks like a generational leap despite the evolutionary approach.
The interior receives the biggest transformation, it is a downsized copy/paste version of the S Class. We all know Mercedes has leaned heavily on the design language and usability as seen in Tesla’s minimalist approach. The center divide is dominated by an 11-5-inch vertically mounted touchscreen infotainment system which is complemented by a 12.3-inch driver’s binnacle. It features “hey Mercedes” voice assistance which is almost but not quite as good as Alexa. And it has an updated version of the MBUX user interface.
One area where Mercedes needs to update is the quality and general fit and finish. They market themselves as a premium luxury brand but in all honesty, they have been trending backward in this area for years. The last-gen C Class interior looked nice but was poorly executed, as is the current E Class. The mainstream media gives Mercedes an easy ride purely to tap into the company’s annual advertising and marketing spend and because they fear losing access. Anyway, I do digress.
The turbocharged engine lineup does usher in an evolutionary approach. The entry-level C180 petrol is powered by a 1.5-liter, 4-cylinder engine and is available in two states of power, 170bhp and 204bhp. The 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder petrol engine is available in one state of power, 258bhp but it does come with the 4MATIC variant. The six-cylinder engine is gone, it’s on the scrapheap of history. You will not have to worry about manually changing gears. Worryingly Mercedes will continue to offer diesel power, but who is going to buy a German-made diesel, come on Mercedes wake up.
All engines offer second-generation electrification technology. This incorporates 48-volt system and 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 onboard electrical system that ensures functions such as gliding, boosting or energy recovery, and makes improves efficiency and fuel usage.
At a later date, Mercedes will offer a 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder plugin hybrid C Class, which will offer an additional 129bhp and an all-electric range of 45 miles. Diesel plugin hybrids will follow, but in my opinion, you should avoid hybrids unless you are looking for a company car tax break. They are also expensive and not as CO2 efficient as you may believe. You are better off buying a Tesla or even the Volkswagen ID4 or Skoda Enyak. There will never be a convergence between plug-in hybrids and electric cars, it is a dying technology that extends the life span of the internal combustion engine.
Anyway, Mercedes are saying the C Class will have a supple yet sporty suspension setup and you will even have the option of rear-axle steering or 4-wheel steering. It isn’t a new technology but it is becoming more common among the premium, mostly German manufacturers. As always the C Class will be available as a saloon or estate.
The new C Class will arrive in UK showrooms by June 2021. Prices have yet to be announced, current entry-level prices in the UK start from £34,000, expect to pay a £2,000 Brexit premium if you live in the UK.