Set for launch in 2021, the next-gen C-Class will inherit some futuristic tech from the S-Class and flaunt an uncluttered design in an attempt to dominate a competitive segment.
Not that much time has passed since the launch of the current-gen C-Class, and Mercedes is already working on the next-gen model of its best-selling car. Codenamed W206, a new C-Class is very much in the works. And from what we know so far, it’s not going to be just another new car from the manufacturer.
The C-Class is a very strategic model for Mercedes, and for its fifth generation Mercedes has something a little different in mind. Just as the BMW 3 Series is the quintessential sports sedan, Mercedes is aiming to make the new C-Class an embodiment of luxury by incorporating the best bits from its bigger brother, the S-Class. The world will catch their first glimpse of the next-gen C-Class towards the end of 2020, while its commercial sales will begin sometime in early 2021.
Judging by the prototype, the dimensions of the new model aren’t likely to be very different from the current one. In terms of dimensions, the new C-Class may follow its rival, the 3 Series, which means that it’s likely to be around 4.7 metres in length – not a major change, for it already measures 4.69 metres. The wheelbase, too, will remain more or less unchanged at 2.85 metres – the current wheelbase is 2.84 metres. And it may lose a few millimetres from its height in comparison to the current model.
Now, it's in terms of design that the new C-Class will flaunt some radical changes. Just like the new CLA and GLE, the new C-Class will have fewer creases on the sides, giving it a sharper and cleaner look. And that’s not all. The upcoming generation of the sedan will also have what the designers at Mercedes call ‘Predator Face’ – a combination of sharper lights and the new reverse grill – something that we've already seen on the new A-Class and CLS. The rear of the car will flaunt horizontal taillights, following Mercedes’ latest design trend.
The interior of the new model is also likely to see a few upgrades. While the current facelifted C-Class missed out on Mercedes’ new MBUX infotainment system, the new C-Class will get it, along with Mercedes’ new voice assistance system.
Underneath the new bodywork, the future C will also flaunt the brand-new MRA2 platform, replacing the MRA platform of the current model. This new architecture will debut with the upcoming S-Class in 2020. While details are sparse at the moment, the new platform is expected to make extensive use of aluminium to increase torsional rigidity, while shedding a few kilos in terms of weight. For all four body types – sedan, estate, coupe and convertible – it’ll have a double-wishbone suspension at the front and multi-link suspension at the rear. Expect the new C-Class to come with air-suspension too – as an optional extra of course.
Pair of hybrids
The new 1.5-litre, hybrid turbo petrol engine, capable of producing 197bhp, will likely be the standard engine for the new C-Class. Moreover, it’ll also be the only petrol engine in regular models. For enthusiasts, the AMG variants are also in the works. The C 43 will drop the current car’s V6 for a new 3.0-litre, six-cylinder hybrid engine, which is expected to exceed the 400bhp mark in terms of power. As for the top-dog of the range – the C 63 – it’ll be nothing short of a revolution. However, it’s possible that the 4.0-litre, V8 engine may become the prerogative of the E 63, forcing the C 63 to go for a smaller but more powerful hybrid engine, producing over 500bhp.
New powertrains aside, there’s also a possibility that, just like the E 63, the new C-Class will also have a switchable four-wheel drive system, capable of sending 100% of its power to the rear axle in drift mode. Another interesting highlight is the confirmation of two plug-in hybrids – a 2.0-litre turbo petrol and even a 2.0-litre turbo diesel hybrid. The new C-Class will also take advantage of the firm’s Intelligent Drive tech, which offers Level 3 autonomous driving. In simple terms, the car will be capable of travelling at speeds of up to 130km/h on motorways, without any human intervention!
CHALLENGES FOR THE NEW CEO
In the twelve years that Dieter Zetsche (left in the photo) spent as the head of the Daimler Group, he literally created history. Recognised, like Sergio Marchionne and Carlos Ghosn, as one of the most skilled executives in the entire automotive industry, the 65-year-old German brought Mercedes-Benz back to the top amongst luxury brands in terms of sales, bypassing Audi and BMW – something which seemed almost impossible in the early 2000s.
In September 2018, he gave way to Ola Kallenius (right in the photo) – the 49-year-old Swede, who had been at the company since 1993 and is the first non-German to occupy the hottest seat in the house. The succession, although calculated and well-prepared, is nonetheless quite demanding. Given the current situation of international trade, which is marked by tensions between major economies, it would certainly not be a trivial matter for the new CEO to repeat the success of his predecessor. Moreover, there are technological challenges that require original solutions like the one that, according to Handelsblatt newspaper, could lead to a collaboration between Daimler and BMW over platforms, electric batteries and autonomous driving technologies.
As you can see in this rendering of the next-gen C-Class, in profile the car is expected to have a rather clean design – with quite a pronounced shoulder line. Although it's quite unlikely that the proportions of the car will undergo any significant changes, the length and wheelbase may gain an inch or two over the current model.
Mercedes’ ‘Predator Face’ is a combination of sharper, triangular headlamps and the new reverse grill. After debuting on the CLS and A-Class, it will now feature on the C-Class, giving it an edgy and sinister look. The horizontal taillights of the C-Class are quite similar to those of the 2019 GLE.
Also read - 2018 Mercedes-Benz CLS Review: First Drive