New Mercedes C-Class range breaks cover

Latest Mercedes C-Class generation officially revealed; plug-in hybrid will manage 62-mile electric range

  • Infotainment screen similar to the bigger S-Class
  • Mild-hybrid petrol and diesel engines
  • On sale from 30 March

The new Mercedes C-Class has been unveiled. The C-Class has been Mercedes’ best-selling model of the last decade and the sixth-generation version gets a host of improvements, including technology borrowed from the Mercedes S-Class.

Prices and specs for the UK model have yet to be released but you’ll be able to order the car from Tuesday 30 March. First deliveries will happen in the summer. The C-Class will continue its long-standing rivalry with the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4, while the electric Tesla Model 3 and Polestar 2 are newer competitors.

2021 Mercedes C-Class styling

Looking at the new Mercedes C-Class, you could be forgiven for thinking Mercedes has simply shrunk the latest S-Class. The front end gets angled LED headlights and a wide grille that will come with chrome stars on AMG Line models. The bonnet is heavily sculpted but the designers have left much of the side panels free of creases.

The rear of the C-Class gets split tail-lights for the first time, which are triangular and similar to those on Mercedes’ other saloons. Alloy wheel options come in 17-19 inch sizes, and there are three new paint colours.

Interior

The C-Class has an interior that’s almost as luxurious as the one in the latest S-Class. Digital dials and a large portrait touchscreen are standard, although both can be upgraded to the impressive screens shown in our pictures. The touchscreen features the very latest ‘MBUX’ software and a ‘Hey Mercedes’ voice assistant, and both can be updated over-the-air.

Tech from the S-Class has made its way onto the C-Class’ options list. You can add features like a head-up display, augmented reality front view and ‘Digital Light’ headlights that project guide lines or warnings onto the road ahead. Rear seat heating is available for the first time too. Even if you don’t add them on when you spec the car, some features can be added retrospectively by subscribing to them in the ‘Mercedes me Store’.

Longer and wider than before, the new C-Class offers more space for passengers. Shoulder and elbow room for both rows of passengers has improved, and those in the rear also benefit from extra head and legroom. Saloons offer up to 455 litres of boot space - the same as the last car - while estates offer 30 litres more at 490 litres, or up to 1,510 litres with the seats folded.

Engines

There won’t be any six or eight-cylinder engines this time around; all engines have four-cylinders and all the standard ones come with mild-hybrid assistance. A nine-speed automatic gearbox is fitted across the entire range too; the gearbox and 4MATIC four-wheel-drive system have both been updated for efficiency.

The engine range kicks off with a 1.5-litre petrol, which gets 168bhp in the C 180 and 201bhp in the C 200. Both the C 200 and the C 300 (using a 254bhp 2.0-litre engine) can be ordered with four-wheel drive. The petrols return between 40-45mpg depending on the engine, and even the lowest-powered one reaches 0-62mph in 8.6 seconds; the C 300 reduces that to six seconds flat.

Both the C 220 d and C 300 d use a 2.0-litre diesel engine, with 197bhp and 261bhp respectively. The C-Class shows that diesel engines can still be very impressive - the C 300 d cracks 0-62mph in just 5.8 seconds but is said to manage over 56mpg.

Plug-in hybrids

Given that the C-Class is often bought as a company car, it’s unsurprising that the plug-in hybrids were so popular in the last generation because they incur lower tax rates than petrol or diesel models. This time around, Mercedes has further improved its hybrids, and the company claims that you’ll be able to drive up to 62 miles on electric power alone. That’s around double the distance the current car can manage and barely any other PHEVs can travel further on battery power.

The top speed in electric mode is 87mph, and the long electric range means it should be much more economical for motorway journeys than before. Once you need to recharge, the C-Class can be ordered with a 55kW DC rapid charger, which will fully top up the battery in half an hour.

The plug-in hybrids come with air suspension as standard and we’re very pleased that Mercedes has managed to remove the frustrating step in the boot. It means through-loading is now possible and the boot space in the saloon has increased to 360 litres - a gain of 45 litres. The total capacity in the estate has risen by a similar amount to 1,375 litres, and a diesel plug-in hybrid will join the range later on.

Plug-in hybrid models also come with a specific sat nav system that can decide when to engage the electric mode based on route, speed limits, traffic conditions and the landscape. The one-pedal driving experience you get in purely electric cars can be done in ‘D-’ mode, which helps recharge the battery.

Read our guides to the best executive cars and best hybrid estate cars.

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