Prototypes of the next-gen Mercedes-Benz C-Class have been spotted winter testing, revealing the model's final production design ahead of a launch in 2021.
The C-Class has been redesigned from the ground up, with highly efficient new hybrid drivetrains and advanced autonomous driving technology set to be some of its key draws.
Having experienced a sharp drop in C-Class sales in recent years because of the universal gravitation of buyers towards SUVs, the German maker is providing the fifth-generation model with many of the developments being readied for the new S-Class. The new C-Class, codenamed W206, will challenge the recently facelifted Audi A4 and new BMW 3 Series when it arrives in UK showrooms in 2021.
As evidenced by the latest prototypes, the design of the new C-Class is a clear evolution of the styling seen on today’s model. Although its exterior features a new-look front end with more angular headlights, the new car’s proportions, dimensions and overall silhouette remain very close to those of the model it replaces.
The starting point for the new C-Class is Mercedes’ MRA (Modular Rear Architecture) platform. It offers a number of advances over the earlier version of the steel and aluminium structure. These include, according to insiders, more advanced electrical architecture that supports a 48V system, which is key to providing the 2021 model with a new range of plug-in hybrid drivetrains.
The AMG performance variants will make a return, but as revealed by Autocar in October, the top-rung C63 will swap its V8 engine for a new hybridised 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit with more than 500bhp.
The MRA structure uses a double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension, with adaptive damping likely to be offered as standard across the range in most markets, including the UK. The new C-Class will continue to provide the option of rear air springs on selected models.
As well as being used by the C-Class saloon, estate, coupé and cabriolet, the new platform will underpin successor models to the GLC and GLC Coupé, with a choice of both rear-wheel drive and optional four-wheel drive.
New all-terrain model
As an addition to the existing line-up, Mercedes has given the green light to a new Audi A4 Allroad rival in the C-Class All Terrain model. Based on the standard estate, it will receive more rugged styling, with unique bumpers and wheel-arch cladding, increased ride height and beefed-up underbody protection measures already brought to the larger E-Class All Terrain.