New Benz C-Class pushes luxury boundaries

Mercedes’ best-selling sedan brings huge changes for 2021, including tech from the range topping S-Class

Mercedes-Benz has big things in mind for its smallest executive sedan.

A new C-Class will touch down locally in the fourth quarter of this year after making its international debut overnight.

It’s easy to mistake the new C-Class for its S-Class big brother, both inside and out as the machine borrows sensibly sophisticated styling from Mercedes’ flagship.

But the more important news is under the skin.

Packed with tech ranging from the latest in driver assistance to home connectivity, enormous new displays with augmented reality sat nav, an oversized head up display and class-leading hybrid option, the new C-Class promises to take on compact sedan rivals from the likes of BMW.

Mercedes chief executive Ola Kallenius says the machine “will once again raise the bar as the most sophisticated offering in its segment”.

On first impression, we are inclined to agree.

Wider and longer than the previous model, the C-Class promises more room than the outgoing model, and a more luxurious experience than entry-level A-Class and CLA-Class compact four-doors based on front-drive underpinnings.

Mercedes says the new car is closer than ever to the range-topping S-Class, thanks to a new 12.3 inch digital dash, huge portrait-oriented 11.1-inch central display and clever connectivity.

Drivers can use voice-activated features to help them get the most from the car – for example, asking “hey Mercedes, where is the first aid kit” rather than flipping through the owner’s manual in an emergency.

Folks with connected homes can ask the car to check on its security system or pre-heat their loungeroom while on the road.

High-voltage electrical architecture powers hybrid systems that are standard across the range, as well as optional features such as rear-wheel-steering that brings a tighter turning circle.

The most interesting variant is a new plug in hybrid machine that offers up to 100 kilometres of zero-emissions range thanks to a 25.4kWh battery pack.

The hybrid blends a 147kW/320Nm petrol engine with a 95kW/440Nm electric motor that should deliver impressive punch.

Lesser models have mild hybrid power that adds 15kW and 200Nm of boost to conventional petrol and diesel engines.

Diesel customers can choose a C300d with 195kW/550Nm outputs plus hybrid boost that returns a 5.7 second sprint to 100km/h and 6.0L/100km economy.

The regular petrol powered C200 has 1.5 litre turbo motor with 150kW/300Nm in addition to the 15kW/200Nm mild hybrid punch resulting in 6.2L/100km fuel use.

Mid-range C300 models get a 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine with 190kW/400Nm before you factor in hybrid power for a six-second dash to 100km/h and 6.6L/100km thirst.

The biggest powertrain revelation will come when Mercedes-AMG unveils its new C63 range.

Christian Fruh, chief engineer for the C-Class, says “we may have a surprise in store” for high performance customers.

Rumoured to be based on the 310kW 2.0-litre turbo motor found in the latest A45 hot hatch, the next-generation C63 could pack hybrid grunt and four-wheel-drive traction to deliver more than 350kW of power and a sub-four-second dash to 100km/h.

A new electrified turbo represents technology lifted straight from the world of Formula 1.

But the top C-Class will lose the charming rumble and muscle car theatrics of the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 that makes the current C63 the most exciting car in its segment.

Full details surrounding the new C-Class, including Australian prices and arrival dates, will be revealed closer to its arrival in late 2021.

Expect the model to start at about $70,000, with the range-topping C63 likely to top the $150,000 mark.

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