What’s inside the new 2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class
Mercedes-Benz pulls the wraps off its fifth-generation C-Class, revealing a sportier edge, class-leading PHEV range, and S-Class smart technology.
Mercedes’ new executive sedan rival to the likes of the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series will arrive later this year and touts a list of unique technology and drivetrains, chief among which is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) that can drive 100km on the electric motor drivetrain alone.
In comparison to those rivals, the C-Class with its 100km range is class-leading, competitors such as the BMW 330e offering around half the distance. But it’s not just the PHEV that is a showcase.
Starting outside, the fifth-gen C-Class appearance is similar to the new E-Class. No Coupe or Convertible versions will be available, though a Wagon has been shown. Beyond the E-Class-inspired fascia, a new bonnet with twin power bulges caps the engine bay, a sportier shoulder line runs down each flank and the passenger cell has been moved backwards.
Overall, the sedan is 65mm longer than before (4751mm), 10mm wider (1820mm), and 7mm lower.
Underneath the sheet metal, the C-Class rides on revised Mercedes Rear Architecture (MRA) architecture which underpinned the previous generation, but proving its relevance in the 2020s, the new MRA platform supports the latest S-Class, which means it has access to the latest swathe of technology.
On the chassis side, this includes rear-axle air suspension for the heavier PHEV model’s battery weight in the rear (standard adaptive electromechanical dampers elsewhere) and four-wheel steering providing a 10.43m turning circle.
However, it is inside that we see some of the biggest changes with a new interior design. But unlike some newer Mercedes models, the digital screen for the driver and central infotainment have been separated, allowing for an oversized central tablet-style hub. The squared-off screens are juxtaposed with oval air vents and a fairly open, clean dash appearance.
The new touchscreen runs the latest version of the MBUX and is offered in two sizes – 9.5-inches or 11.8-inch – and while similar to the S-Class it lacks OLED lighting control. Connectivity includes the usual Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus in-car office app and music streaming. It also connects with a smart home, so you can control lights, heating/cooling and appliances that are compatible with connected-services.
The screen behind the steering wheel is a familiar 10.25-inch landscape unit that can be oversized to 12.3-inches. Customisable, the standard factory settings are classic, sport and discreet.
The only major tech missing from the C-Class that we see in the new S-Class is the augmented reality head up display for virtual navigation guidance.
Underneath the bonnet are only four-cylinder drivetrains, including 48-volt petrol and diesel and plug-in hybrid. The 48v belt-driven electric motor boosts power by 15kW and 200Nm with coasting function, the PHEV has a 25.4kWh lithium-ion battery that supplies up to 100km electric-only driving range (at up to 140km/h) and supplies up to 95kW of power.
The new C-Class is expected to arrive in Australia later this year and we are yet to see what’s in store for the new high-performance AMG line-up.