What is it?
Facelifts. There are light ones, heavy ones and those that look light but are, in fact, really rather heavy.
The fourth-generation Mercedes-Benz C-Class has recently undergone a facelift of the latter kind, with around 6500 parts — half of the car’s overall tally — replaced or modified in preparation for battle with BMW’s upcoming successor for the F80-generation 3 Series and an updated Audi A4.
First deliveries are set for July, at which point the petrol range begins with a sophisticated ‘mild hybrid’ C200 that pairs a downsized engine with a 48V belt-driven starter/alternator. There’s also a 251bhp C300 displacing two litres rather than the three its name suggests, and both are derived from the same ‘modular’ engine found in the new CLS. With the electrification of the entry-level model, gone is the option of a six-speed manual; a nine-speed torque-converter is now standard.
Changes have also been wrought to the diesel line-up, which now uses the same OM654 unit introduced to the Mercedes-Benz E-Class two years ago. Given the lacklustre delivery of the old lump, this is welcome news, and there’s a choice of either a 1.6 or 2.0 unit in the form of the 158bhp C200d or the 191bhp C220d. Both figures are up by around 20bhp on the models they replaced, although only with the more powerful engine will you have the (optional) security of Mercedes’ 4Matic four-wheel drive.
Given that one in every five cars Mercedes sells is a C-Class, there will be further derivatives, not least a fully plug-in hybrid in the form of the petrol-engined C300e and its diesel equivalent, the C300de. Both will get an on-paper electric range of 31 miles, owing to a 13.8kWh battery pack, and an output of around 200bhp, although we have yet to receive any specifics.
As for what you can see, the bumpers have been tweaked and there’s a more interesting colour palette, but overall Mercedes’ junior saloon is as pretty as it ever was. In the UK, we’ll get SE, Sport and AMG Line trims that variously allow the C-Class to come across as everything from a particularly posh taxi to a shrunken Mercedes-Benz S-Class — something that’s largely down to the different grilles fitted. The headlights are also new and you can option adaptive Multibeam LED headlights made up of 84 rotating LEDs.
The adoption of the electrical architecture from the S-Class allows the C-Class to benefit from its sibling's safety systems, too. It means the camera and radar systems responsible for detecting other vehicles have been upgraded; the camera, Mercedes says, can ‘see’ up to half a kilometre up the road and in 3D for the first 90 metres.
Elsewhere, the Distronic cruise control is now linked to the navigation system, so it’ll rein in speed as you approach bends, roundabouts and the like. Naturally, you’ll need to pay more for all this: £1695 for the Driving Assistance package.