The sixth-generation Mercedes-Benz C-Class is the first combustion-engined model from the German manufacturer to go electrified-only.
It also brings technology from the S-Class flagship alongside a design overhaul in an effort to take on the latest BMW 3 Series.
The saloon and estate have been revealed simultaneously ahead of a 30 March on-sale date, followed by first deliveries this summer. Starting prices are likely to be bumped up slightly to around £35,000 and £38,000 respectively.
The new W206 C-Class has been brought into line with its newer A-Class, CLA, CLS and E-Class range-mates, primarily by way of shorter overhangs, a more angular front end and new light-cluster designs.
The external proportions of Mercedes’ best-selling model remain familiar, but it has received design tweaks all round with the aim of appearing “in motion at a standstill”. The bonnet features a pair of prominent ‘power bulges’ and the glasshouse has been moved slightly farther back to give the impression of a cab-rearwards design.
Creases and character lines have been kept to a minimum, Mercedes said, in an effort to accentuate the shoulder line, while the estate gains a more obviously inclined roofline for a “sporty touch without functional compromises”.
As with all Mercedes models, the front-grille design differs according to the trim level, with higher-specification cars gaining added chrome and decorative features.
The wheelbase on both models has been increased by 25mm to 2865mm and the overall length is up by 65mm. This latter increase is said to give extra passenger room in the cabin, while the estate’s boot gains an additional 30 litres of cargo capacity.
As first reported by Autocar, the new C-Class is powered exclusively by electrified four-cylinder engines, right up to the (as-yet-unseen) AMG C63 hot range-topper, with plug-in and mild-hybrid technology rolled out across the range for better efficiency and thus reduced emissions.
The W206 remains available with a choice of diesel and petrol engines, although each is now equipped as standard with a 48V belt-integrated starter generator (BISG). This recovers energy under deceleration to provide a power boost of up to 20bhp, allow for ‘gliding’ at a cruise and render the start-stop process “almost imperceptible”.
The petrol line-up opens with the 1.5-litre C180, which produces 168bhp and 194lb ft, can crack the 0-62mph sprint in 8.6sec and tops out at 144mph. The C200 shares the C180’s 1.5-litre capacity but makes 201bhp and 221lb ft for a 0-62mph time up to 1.5sec quicker than the entry-level model and a top speed of up to 153mph. And the 2.0-litre C300 produces 255bhp and 295lb ft and hits 62mph from rest in as little as 6.0sec.