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Wraps come off new Mercedes C-Class. Image by Mercedes AG.

Wraps come off new Mercedes C-Class
W206 and S206 four-door and wagon Mercedes C-Class models will be MHEVs with digital interiors.
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What's all this about?

We've got an all-new, fifth-generation Mercedes C-Class on our hands, this W206 (Saloon) and S206 (Estate) duo taking over from the outgoing W/S205. Obvs. Anyway, like many a C-Class before it, the latest model takes its styling inspiration from its big brother S-Class and some of that car's high-end technology filters down, too. For instance, inside the 206-gen C-Class cars is a digital instrument cluster (either 10.25 or 12.3 inches across the diagonal), coupled to a large central touchscreen that measures 9.5 or 11.9 inches in size. This latter item is part of a dashboard architecture that's canted six degrees in favour of the driver, but it's basically a highbrow tech-fest in the new C. Not only that, but it's also an electrified car.

Wait, you're telling me the C-Class has become a zero-emissions EV?!

Ah, yes. Some confusion there. No, what we mean is that the entirely four-cylinder turbocharged array of launch engines are all mild hybrids (MHEVs), featuring an integrated starter-generator shoehorned into a nine-speed 9G-Tronic autobox. Drives goes to the rear wheels or, on selected models, all four corners via 4Matic AWD, and the MHEV gimmickery boosts performance when needed (the EQ Boost adds 20hp and 200Nm on official stats), allows for more coasting (Merc calls it 'gliding') and does a bit of that there energy harvesting, all to save some fuel.

That being said, we don't know much about the economy of the W/S206's launch range, because Mercedes hasn't finished homologating the specs yet so there are no fuel consumption nor CO2 figures to bandy about. So let's just go with the broader stats on model designations, power/torque and performance. With the MHEV EQ Boost on all cars, and with only the C200 petrol and the C 220 d turbodiesel optionally available with 4Matic from the following list (on the diesel, it blunts acceleration marginally compared to the RWD equivalent but on the petrol, it bizarrely makes it slightly quicker to 62mph than the rear-drive version thanks to the added traction), then this is what you're looking at: the C 180 and the C 200 petrols are both powered by a 1.5-litre four-cylinder unit, delivering 170hp/250Nm in the former and 204hp/300Nm in the latter, resulting in 0-62mph in 8.6 seconds and a top speed of 144mph on the C 180, or 7.3 seconds and 153mph for the C 200 (that's for the Saloon, the C 200 Estate records 7.5 seconds and 149mph); meanwhile, the C 300 is a 2.0-litre petrol of 258hp/400Nm strength, managing a six-second 0-62mph run and a 155mph limited top speed; and, moving over to the diesels, all of them are the new OM 654 M unit with a marginally increased stroke and therefore displacement (now up to 1,992cc, instead of 1,950cc before) - which starts with the C 200 d (163hp, 380Nm, 0-62mph 7.7 seconds Saloon or 7.8 seconds Estate, top speed 143mph Saloon or 140mph Estate), going through the C 220 d (200hp, 440Nm, 0-62mph 7.3 seconds Saloon or 7.4 seconds Estate, top speed 152mph Saloon or 150mph Estate) and culminating with the C 300 d (265hp, 550Nm, 0-62mph in 5.7 seconds Saloon or 5.8 seconds Estate, top speed 155mph limited).

If all of these don't sound eco enough or punchy enough for you, then next in the pipeline is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) C-Class; see? Told you the Merc was now electrified. Anyway, it teams a 204hp 2.0-litre petrol motor to a 95kW (129hp) electric motor and 25.4kWh lithium-ion battery pack, for peak system outputs of 313hp and 550Nm, plus an all-EV driving range of up to 62.1 miles. It'll even do up to 87mph in zero-emissions mode, too.

Sounds impressive, especially that EV range. What about chassis tech?

The new W206 family uses a four-link front axle with a multilink rear end mounted to a subframe for the best blend of comfort and agility. Options will include a Sport suspension set-up, plus adjustable damping and even rear-axle air suspension on the incoming PHEV. Rear-wheel steering is drafted in on the optional extras list for the C-Class for the first time, as are high-tech goodies like Mercedes' Digital Light and a load of advanced driver assist systems. Wheel sizes are from 17 to 19 inches in diameter.

Beyond that, it's just general styling notes, such as the fact higher-spec models get ever-fancier radiator grille arrangements to let Steve from Marketing instinctively know if you've got an AMG Line or not when it's in the staff car park (remember those?), and that the Saloon has two-piece rear-lamp clusters for the first time. Three new colours called Spectral Blue, High-Tech Silver and Opalite White join the palette, while the C-Class has grown in size in all the key dimensions, including packing an extra 25mm in the wheelbase. This means there's more space onboard for passengers in every way imaginable, while the Estate's boot rises 30 litres to new figures of 490 litres with all seats in use and then 1,510 litres with the second row folded away. The new C-Class is also very aerodynamic, registering 0.24Cd as a Saloon and 0.27Cd as an Estate. We're expecting the cars to go on sale in early spring, ahead of first deliveries in the summer. We'll bring you more news, as and when we get it.

Matt Robinson - 23 Feb 2021

2021 Mercedes C-Class W206 Revealed. Image by Mercedes AG.2021 Mercedes C-Class W206 Revealed. Image by Mercedes AG.2021 Mercedes C-Class W206 Revealed. Image by Mercedes AG.2021 Mercedes C-Class W206 Revealed. Image by Mercedes AG.2021 Mercedes C-Class W206 Revealed. Image by Mercedes AG.

2021 Mercedes C-Class W206 Revealed. Image by Mercedes AG.2021 Mercedes C-Class W206 Revealed. Image by Mercedes AG.2021 Mercedes C-Class W206 Revealed. Image by Mercedes AG.2021 Mercedes C-Class W206 Revealed. Image by Mercedes AG.2021 Mercedes C-Class W206 Revealed. Image by Mercedes AG.

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