As an entry to the core Mercedes-Benz range, the C-Class is one of Stuttgart’s most important models, so the arrival of a new generation is always a big deal. And as the company gears up for the impending debut of the new W206, selected European media – including Autocar – have been allowed a ride in the latest compact executive, revealing some key new details.
First of all, Mercedes confirmed the previously-reported February 23 reveal date of the new C-Class, which will be conducted via a live broadcast. As for the car itself, it’s grown a good deal over the outgoing W205, being 65 mm longer than before – 10 mm in the front overhang, 30 mm in the wheelbase and 25 mm in the rear overhang. This would put the W206’s length at 4,751 mm and the wheelbase at 2,865 mm.
Both figures are comfortably longer than the G20 BMW 3 Series – a fact that is visible in the W206’s slightly lengthened proportions. We already know what the car will look like thanks to images of an undisguised car that were leaked way before the reveal, showing the trapezoidal headlights, hexagonal grille and a bone-shaped air intake design – a look that has already been seen on a number of newer Mercedes models.
Other confirmed details include the twin bonnet power domes (now standard across the lineup, no longer limited to the top AMG C 63), larger wheel arches (likely hiding bigger wheel options), a wider front track, cleaner side surfacing and triangular headlights joined by a full-width chrome strip.
But the biggest change is to be found on the inside, where the C-Class will receive plenty of the headlining technologies from the new S-Class, including an absolutely massive centre touchscreen on the waterfall-like centre console. A video from YouTube personality Mr Benz, who also got a ride in a prototype, reveals the optional larger portrait display that incorporates the climate controls; past spyshots have shown a smaller screen with discrete air-conditioning touch panel.
There’s also a freestanding digital instrument display with new graphics also from the S-Class, albeit without the latter’s optional three-dimensional effect. At the heart of the two displays is the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) that makes its way into the C-Class for the first time.
This latest version has an improved “Hey Mercedes” voice control system, smart home integration and an upgraded MBUX Interior Assistant. The W206’s larger dimensions has also had an impact on interior space, with Autocar reporting a 25 mm increase in rear legroom and 13 mm more headroom.
As previously reported, the C-Class will switch to a full four-cylinder engine lineup, reportedly due to Mercedes’ latest inline-six mills requiring a longer engine bay. This will include the AMG models, with the C 63 in particular ditching its 4.0 litre twin-turbocharged V8 for a version of the A 45‘s 2.0 litre four-pot, augmented by a hybrid system to make up for the expected shortfall in power.
In fact, the entire range will have mild hybrid technology at the very least, with the C-Class moving to a 48-volt electrical architecture. Standard models include the C 300, which will get a 2.0 litre unit that makes the same 258 PS as before, but with 20 PS of accelerative boost from an integrated starter-generator. There will also be an entry-level petrol model with 170 PS, while outputs for the diesels range from 200 PS to 265 PS.
The plug-in hybrid range has also been upgraded with a new C 300 e, which has nearly double the battery capacity, from 13.5 kWh to 25.4 kWh. Combined outputs have fallen slightly to 320 PS and 650 Nm of torque, but the main beneficiary is the range, which has more than doubled to over 100 km. A diesel-electric C 300 de will also be made available, which will be of more relevance to European buyers.
Under the skin, the new C-Class’ chassis has been retuned but will use the same double-wishbone front and four-link rear setup as before. To streamline the W205’s bloated suspension lineup, the Airmatic option will be limited to the plug-in hybrid models. Optional rear-wheel steering is a new addition.
No details regarding driver assistance systems were revealed, but Mercedes boss Ola Källenius has said that the C-Class will be a “small S-Class”, so it should get much (if not all) of the bigger car’s impressive new features. The S-Class is set to be the world’s first certified Level 3 semi-autonomous car this year, allowing drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel for extended periods; it remains to be seen if the C-Class will be available with the same functionality, even as an option.
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