New Mercedes-Benz C-Class goes all in on electrification



New Mercedes-Benz C-Class set for Singapore Q4 2021; all models get four-cylinder engines and electrified powertrains


Photos: Mercedes-Benz

STUTTGART, GERMANY

This is the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class, set to arrive in Singapore by the end of this year. Completely revamped with new styling and a tech-filled interior, the headline news for the C-Class is the introduction of electrified four-cylinder powertrains for all versions across the range.

All C-Class models will feature a mild hybrid setup, but there will also be a plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) variant that offers up to 100km of driving range in electric mode, double that of the previous C-Class PHEV.

Not mentioned at the online reveal event, but widely acknowledged as an open secret is the fact that the full-blown AMG models, including the AMG C 63 model, will now go the four-cylinder mild hybrid route alongside the rest of its C-Class stablemates. More details about the AMG C-Class cars will be revealed later this year.

The electrification of the C-Class range is part of Mercedes-Benz’s “Electric First” strategy, which aims to have 50 percent of the brand’s model range made up of electrified models by 2030. To that end, Mercedes-Benz will continue to push electrification for its regular models, as well as introduce new full electric vehicles (EVs) like the EQA and EQS this year.



However, the C-Class’ chief engineer, Christian Fruh, rules out having a fully-electric C-Class model, at least for the time being. He notes that the C-Class’ MRA platform makes it unsuitable to incorporate a full-blown electric setup without making the car too bloated. The upcoming EQS luxury sedan will sit on the brand’s Electric Vehicle Architecture (EVA), but Fruh states that adapting it would have gone “beyond the dimensional concept and budget of the C-Class.”

Nevertheless, Mercedes-Benz will still prioritise electrification for its regular models like the C-Class. The brand sold around 115,000 PHEV cars across its range in 2020, accounting for about 6 percent of its total sales volume worldwide, and Fruh says that the company aims to increase that share to around 12 percent for 2021.

Drivetrains

Three regular petrol models will be made available at launch, namely the C 180, C 200 and C 300. The line-up for Singapore hasn’t been confirmed as yet, but it’s likely that the C 180 and C 200 will make their bow first when the C-Class is launched here in the fourth quarter of 2021.

The specs for the different variants are illustrated in the table below, but the key point to note is that both the C 180 and C 200 will utilise road tax-friendly (in Singapore at least) 1.5-litre turbocharged engines.


C 180C 200C 300
Engine1,496cc1,496cc1,999cc
Power 170hp204hp258hp
Torque250Nm300Nm400Nm
0-100km/h8.6 secs7.3 secs6.0 secs
Top speed231km/h246km/h250km/h
Fuel economy6.2L/100km6.3L/100km6.6L/100km

As mentioned earlier, the non-PHEV C-Class cars will get a mild hybrid setup that incorporates a 48-volt belt-integrated starter generator that can recover energy lost under deceleration, and provide a boost of up to 20hp.



The C 300e plug-in hybrid model is expected to launch slightly later, and the car combines a 2.0-litre 200hp petrol engine with a 129hp electric motor for a total output of 306hp. More impressively, Mercedes-Benz says that the C 300e can drive on electric power alone for up to 100km, which is twice that of the outgoing model, and well above many of its rivals. 

The new C 300e will also offer the capability of fast charging, with the car’s battery able to be fully charged to 100 percent in just 30 minutes using a 55kW DC charger. Mercedes-Benz states that a diesel PHEV model will be introduced later on for selected markets, primarily Europe where diesels continue to sell strongly.

Styling and Interior

Cosmetically, the new C-Class bears the new Mercedes-Benz family look, with the car looking very much like a slightly smaller version of the recently updated E-Class. The sharp-nosed front end and slim taillights at the rear are all visual styling cues that have been borrowed from the E-Class, as well as its smaller siblings like the A-Class and CLA.

The design has allowed Mercedes-Benz to push the wheels further to the corners, resulting in shorter overhangs, but also a longer wheelbase, which has been increased by 25mm, to 2865mm. Overall length has gone up by 65mm, to 4751mm, although boot space remains unchanged at 455 litres.

On the inside, the interior has undergone a significant makeover. The angled tablet-style large touchscreen on the centre console is a feature borrowed from the new S-Class. The screen on the C-Class will be slightly smaller though, at 10.25-inches, although the bigger 11.9-inch item from the S-Class is expected to feature on higher specced cars.

The floating digital instrument panel remains from the current C-Class, and is available in either 10.25-inch or 12.3-inch formats depending on spec. The centre console has also been cleaned up, with the rotary control for the infotainment system now omitted: functions are now accessed via touchscreen only, or through touch-sensitive pads on the steering wheel.

Tech

The new C-Class features the second-generation version of the MBUX infotainment system, which introduces an upgraded version of the Hey Mercedes voice assistant. The new MBUX system also offers greater connectivity, with the ability to access various smart home functions, integrated music streaming, and also allows for over-the-air software updates.



A new optional feature is the ‘augmented video’ navigation system, which can render the car’s surroundings as images captured by the front camera onto the main touchscreen, and impose virtual information such as traffic signs and directional arrows onto the image, making navigation easier in urban areas.

There is also now a fingerprint scanner located at the bottom of the touchscreen, allowing users to log in to their saved profiles immediately. The fingerprint scanner also provides an added layer of security for user information stored on onto the car’s system.

Another S-Class innovation that makes its way down to the new C-Class is the optional Digital Light smart headlight system, which can project warning symbols and guide lines onto the road. Driver assistance systems such as the adaptive cruise control and steering assist have also been upgraded for improved safety.



Pricing details for the new C-Class have not been announced, but expect it to not stray too far from the current model’s pricing. This means a starting point of around $200,000 or so with COE for the C 180, rising to about $250,000 for the C 300e PHEV.


about the author

avatar
Ben Chia
CarBuyer's senior staff writer went out to explore the Great Big World, including a stint working in China (despite his limited Mandarin). Now he's back, ready to foist upon you his takes on everything good and wonderful about the automotive world.