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 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.
What's it like?
Exceedingly pleasant inside, although conspicuous in its absence is the smart dual-screen digital slab found in the E-Class, S-Class and now even the A-Class hatch.
To compensate, the instrument binnacle dead ahead of the driver is now fully digital (optional, alas, requiring you to part with £2795 for the Premium Package) and the screen for the Comand infotainment system has grown to 10.25in.
There’s also ambience lighting and new finishes including walnut and oak, although the basic architecture remains. As such, anybody coming from a 3 Series will find this a characterful, opulent environment, while those accustomed to a reasonably well equipped A4 might call it fussy and a little disappointing to the touch.
Driven here is the C200. While it won’t constitute the bulk of C-Class sales (that’ll be the 220d), it is arguably the most interesting car in the line-up, not least because under the bonnet is a downsized 1.5-litre in-line four internally known as ‘M264’.
This engine features twin-scroll turbocharging for greater torque at modest crank speeds, while the cylinder bores have been pared back at their bases to reduce friction while preserving a tight seal. It’s an old-school efficiency gain — and a clever one at that. Meanwhile, the belt-driven starter-generator running off a 48V electrical system is the latest application of Mercedes' EQ Boost mild hybrid technology and supposedly yields the performance of the old 2.0 engine but with much less of a real-world thirst.