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 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.
The engine line-up for the fifth-generation C-Class will consist primarily of four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines featuring a choice of EQ Boost mild-hybrid and EQ Power plug-in hybrid functions in combination with either a starter/generator or gearbox-mounted electric motor.
New electric motor and battery technology should increase the efficiency of future hybrid drivetrains, although the plug-in C-Class is likely to continue to offer the 31-mile range of the current C300de at the start of sales.
Despite the focus on efficiency, Mercedes is also planning successor models to today’s C43 and C63. The C43’s 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder petrol engine will adopt mild-hybrid tech, but the C63 is set to continue with an updated version of today’s 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine, with up to 550bhp in a new range-topping C63 S 4Matic+. That will use a fully variable four-wheel-drive system rather than today’s rear-driven set-up.
In a bid to make the new C-Class the most advanced car in its class, Mercedes will bring in the very latest autonomous driving features to set what one source involved in its development has described to Autocar as “new standards in human-machine interface in the automotive field”.