Mercedes-Benz is gearing up for the world premiere of the new generation C-class on February 23. The new model takes an evolutionary external approach, as is typical with Mercedes' more traditional, long-standing models. However, the interior will be substantially overhauled over the old car, with the latest MBUX infotainment system and a thorough redesign.
Next-gen C-class is built on a new version of Mercedes’ MRA platform
New C-class All Terrain variant in the works
Gets new ‘Drive Pilot’ autonomous driving technology and latest MBUX system
New Mercedes-Benz C-class: design and platform
As evidenced by the latest prototypes, the design of the new C-class is a clear evolution of the styling seen on today’s model. Although its exterior features a new-look front end with more angular headlights, the new car’s proportions, dimensions and overall silhouette remain very close to those of the model it replaces.
The starting point for the new C-class is Mercedes’ MRA (Modular Rear Architecture) platform. It offers a number of advances over the earlier version of the steel and aluminium structure. These include, according to insiders, more advanced electrical architecture that supports a 48V system, which is key to providing the 2021 model with a new range of plug-in hybrid drivetrains.
The MRA structure uses a double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension, with adaptive damping likely to be offered as standard across the range in most markets. The new C-class will continue to provide the option of rear air springs on selected models.
As well as being used by the C-class sedan, estate, coupé and cabriolet, the new MRA platform will also underpin successor models to the GLC and GLC Coupé, with a choice of both rear-wheel drive and optional four-wheel drive.
As an addition to the existing C-class line-up, Mercedes has given the green light to a new C-class All Terrain model. Based on the standard estate, it will receive more rugged styling, with unique bumpers and wheel-arch cladding, increased ride height and beefed-up underbody protection, which are measures already brought to the larger E-class All Terrain.
New Mercedes-Benz C-class: powertrain options
The engine line-up for the fifth-generation C-class in international markets will consist primarily of four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, which will feature a choice of EQ Boost mild-hybrid and EQ Power plug-in hybrid functions, in combination with either a starter/generator or gearbox-mounted electric motor.
New electric motor and battery technology should increase the efficiency of future hybrid drivetrains, although, at the start of sales, the plug-in C-class is likely to continue to offer the 50kmpure-electric range of the current C300de.
The AMG performance variants will also make a return, but as revealed by us earlier, the top-rung C63 will swap its V8 engine for a new hybridised 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit with more than 500hp.
New Mercedes-Benz C-class: technology upgrades
In a bid to make the new C-class the most advanced car in its class, Mercedes will bring in the very latest autonomous driving features to set what one source involved in its development has described to our sister publication Autocar UK as “new standards in human-machine interface in the automotive field”.
Leading the push is a new Drive Pilot function with level three functionality. As pioneered by the seventh-generation S-class, it will allow hands-off driving at speeds of up to 128kph for extended distances. This brings a whole new range of sensor functions, including long-range lidar, multi-mode radar, the latest ultra-sonic sensors and a new stereo camera from Korean supplier LG. The new model will also be equipped with the latest version of Mercedes’ MBUX infotainment system.
New Mercedes-Benz C-class: rivals
The new C-class, codenamed W206, will challenge the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Jaguar XE when it arrives in European markets in the middle of 2021. While there is no news yet of the new C-class launching in India this year, Mercedes-Benz India will introduce it in the future.
2021 is slated to be a big year for Mercedes in India as the manufacturer has lined up 15 launches this year. Models that will be launched in India in 2021 include the new Mercedes-Benz A-class Limousine, the second-gen Mercedes-Benz GLA, the all-new S-class, and even the hardcore 730hp Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series.
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