Mercedes has unveiled its new C-Class as a larger, all-electrified range of saloons and estates with the headline act a plug-in hybrid that can go 62 miles on battery power alone, typically twice the electric distance of most plug-in hybrids.
Mercedes says this fourth-generation system will, unusually, be available in either petrol or diesel form. Its 129PS (95kW) electric motor, neatly incorporated into the transmission, draws power from a battery under the boot floor for a range that will mean on many days the combustion engine will not be needed at all, claims the company. A range of 62 miles (according to the WLTP protocol) is twice that of the outgoing model.
In petrol plug-in form, with an additional 200PS (147kW), Mercedes says the new model will also be “decidedly sporty”, but as yet there are no performance figures. Both petrol and diesel variants promise plenty of pulling power, with the new electric motor alone rated at 440Nm (326lb ft).
Drivers can choose to use all the electric power immediately or save it up for later use in a zero emissions zone. With power regeneration set to maximum the car offers one-pedal driving. When the 25.4kWh battery does go flat it takes 30 minutes to charge it up – at a fast DC charger at least.
Further details of the plug-in models will be confirmed later after the first new models go on sale, set for this summer. The rest of the new C-Class range are all electrified but have a 48-volt integrated starter generator (ISG) – what Mercedes calls EQ Boost – rather than being hybrids of the plug-in variety. A fully electric C-Class is still in the three-pointed star’s pipeline.
Again there is a range of models in petrol and diesel forms, all four-cylinder (either 1.5- or 2.0-litres) and all now featuring Mercedes’ nine-speed 9G-Tronic automatic transmission (there’s no manual at all), along with the option of rear- or all-wheel-drive. The electric boost adds 20PS (15kW) for a mild performance fillip and to allow gliding, coasting and more seamless stop-starting.
Quickest of the new Cs on figures so far released is… the diesel. The C300d’s 2.0-litre oil-burner puts out 265PS (195kW) which with the extra electric 15kW is enough for 0-62mph in 5.7 seconds. No sportscar then but brisk for a car that can also return 56mpg (WLTP combined) and has a tax-friendly CO2 rating of 132g/km.
Of the models so far revealed (and many more variants are yet to come), the top petrol, the C300, is slightly less powerful and a tad slower as well as less efficient than the diesel. And you thought diesel was dead…
As usual the range will kick off with a C180 which boasts 170PS (125kW) and a 0-62 time of 8.6 seconds. Definitely no sportscar then. The entry diesel will be a C220d with 200PS (147kW).
And what of the rest of the new C-Class, still Mercedes’ biggest selling model? Well, it’s larger than before. Length of 4.75m is 65mm up on the current car, the wheelbase is stretched a little and it is also wider, by 48mm (almost two inches) at the rear. The extra bulk doesn’t hurt the design, which remains generic “cab-back” C-Class with some new S-Class influences, but which seems from the pictures to be a little sleeker with a more purposeful stance. All the design “jewellery” seems as premium as ever.
All the new Cs sit on new suspension made up of a four-link axle at the front and a multi-link axle at the rear. Continuously adjustable damping and sport suspension are options while the later-arriving plug-in hybrid models get standard air suspension at the rear for both the saloon and estate.
Another option is rear-axle steering. The rear wheels can turn up to 2.5 degrees in the familiar fashion – opposite to the front wheels at low speed to help manoeuvrability; in the same direction above 37mph to improve stability.
Mercedes’ latest technologies that make their debut in the flagship S-Class always filter down to the C-Class and the new one is no different. That’s most obvious inside where the display and operating concept has been adopted from the latest S-Class. Mercedes calls it a paradigm change to digitisation. The “floating” central touchscreen, now angled slightly to the driver, is 9.5 inches as standard or pay more and get a whopper 11.9-incher.
Nine things the new C-Class can do the old one couldn’t…
Allow you to log in to your MBUX “user experience” using a fingerprint scanner
Get the S-Class look with optional Digital Light headlights that can project guide lines on to the road ahead
Enjoy heated seats in the rear for the first time
Get a better massage from the front seats (new eight-chamber system for “deep-tissue effect”
Spread out more in the back seat: there’s 35mm more kneeroom
Load up with more bags in the larger boot with a lower floor
Execute tighter U-turns with the optional rear steer that brings the turning circle down by 43cm to 10.64m
Order options such as a colour head-up display and augmented video feed from the front of the car
Control your home appliances (Bosch and Samsung to begin with) from the car with ‘Hey Mercedes’ voice controls. It is not yet possible to control the car from your fridge…