When a model makes up a quarter of your total sales, there’s no room for error.
It’s the case with the C-Class line-up for Mercedes’ owner Daimler, which is probably why its revised range, now revealed in full, is a carefully judged update making sure it doesn’t mess up an incredibly successful formula.
We’re yet to drive the revised C-Class range, but based on what we know, the improvements are all incremental steps. Depending on the specific model, there are new suspensions and a few subtle chassis tweaks.
Far more notably, and telling of modern-day buyers, it's the infotainment and driving assist systems that have changed the most, with the majority of buyers desiring glossy, big (and easy-to-use) screens and semi-autonomous systems.
When you consider there have been very few changes to engines, power and performance, it is also telling that this is no longer the headline attraction for car buyers – even in the premium segment. There is, however, a new generation of plug-in hybrids on the facelifted C-Class as well as a mild hybrid option. This move is prudent: as more and more people take the step to hybrids, it’s an important option to offer. And, of course, the impending dates for emissions targets will be a major consideration for car makers’ future strategies.
So, Mercedes has sensibly followed a predictable formula. When the segment is constantly at threat from SUVs and more - not that Mercedes don’t have enough SUVs to offer - the German brand won’t want to upset the apple cart.
So long as it remains relatively dynamic and comfortable on the road, Mercedes should be in excellent shape to hold its own when the all-new BMW 3-Series arrives in autumn – indeed, last year in Europe, the C-Class comfortably outsold the 3 Series, selling 176,915 to 129,053 units respectively.