Modular underpinnings of latest C-class could open the door to even more new body styles and derivatives as part of an ambitious growth plan

Mercedes-Benz is considering further expansion of its big-selling C-class family.

Head of development Thomas Weber said the manufacturer has “some other ideas” for further variants beyond staple offerings such as the new saloon and estate and imminent coupé and cabriolet body styles.

He also confirmed that the next Mercedes-Benz GLK SUV, expected in 2015, will also be based on the C-class underpinnings, and will also be offered in right-hand drive for the first time.

Two key factors have created the potential to spin more derivatives from the C-class technology. The first is the flexible MRA (modular rear-wheel-drive architecture) that underpins the new C-class car, and offers the manufacturer the opportunity to produce new body styles more quickly and more economically than in the past.

The other factor is that C-class variants are now built at four production plants around the world – Bremen in Germany, East London in South Africa, Beijing in China and Tuscaloosa in the USA – and this gives Mercedes plenty of scope for extra production capacity.

“There are some other ideas and it is clear going forward with four plants, that is a clear message that we will grow,” said Weber. “We are not only going for growth in the current segments. We are always looking to see if there are remaining niches which could generate profitable growth and business.”

The Beijing plant produces a long-wheelbase version of the Mercedes-Benz C-class saloon, although Weber said this model would remain exclusive to the Chinese market for the imminent future.

The outgoing C-class model, which was launched in 2007, sold 165,194 examples in the UK. The estate accounted for 33,038 of those sales, along with 113,984 saloons and 18,172 coupés.

Our Verdict

Mercedes-Benz C-class

Can the C-Class, our perennial runner-up in the compact saloon category, finally reach the top spot?

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