3things you need to know
FIFTH GENERATION OF MERCEDES’ MOST POPULAR MODEL
All C-Class models will now be fitted with nine-speed automatic transmissions. The electric motor, power electronics and oil cooler have been moved into or onto the transmission, resulting in fewer installation lines, less space, reduced weight and increased efficiency.
The new C-Class will be produced in Bremen (Germany), Beijing (China) and East London (South Africa). Bremen is the lead plant for international production. China has been the largest C-Class market since 2016. In Germany, two-thirds of C-Class cars sold are wagons.
The dashboard is dominated by two large digital screens. Like the dominant central touchscreen (standard 24.1cm or optional 30.2cm, and angled at six degrees towards the driver), the driver instrument display is now a ‘floating’ screen that sits in front of the dash trim.
percent share of the UK market in 2016, oilburners slumped to less than 20 percent share last year – the new C-Class is offered with two versions of the OM264 M 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel. In C220d spec the engine makes 147kW at 4200rpm and 440Nm at 1800-2800rpm, while in C300d trim those outputs are bumped to 195kW at 4200rpm and 550Nm at 1800-2200rpm. The big news is the OM264 M has a 48V integrated starter generator that can add an extra 15kW via the EQ Boost system, and the engine will shut down to allow the car to coast, further improving fuel efficiency.
The new C300 and C300 4Matic will be powered by the M254 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo that made its debut last year in the facelifted E-Class. With the same bore diameter and bore centres, the M254 is basically the 3.0-litre M256 inline six with two cylinders cut off. It also gets the 48V integrated starter generator set-up, with its 15kW EQ Boost and coasting functions. The engine makes 190kW at 5800rpm and 400Nm at 2000-3200rpm, enough to deliver a claimed 0-100km/h acceleration time of 6.0 seconds.
Though the name suggests otherwise, the new C200 and C200 4Matic models are powered by the 1.5-litre M264 engine that was fitted to some European-spec versions of the W205 C200 in 2018. This engine also has a 48V integrated starter generator system, offering EQ Boost of 15kW and the coasting function. It pumps out 150kW at 5800-6100rpm and 300Nm at 1800-4000rpm. The 0-100km/h takes 7.3sec, or 7.1sec with the benefit of 4Matic all-wheel drive. The M264 is also used in a C180 version of the W206, its outputs knocked back to 125kW and 250Nm.
Most interesting of the new C-Class powertrains, though, is the plug-in hybrid. The internal combustion part of the powertrain will initially be the M254 2.0-litre petrol engine, with the OM264 M diesel being made available later. The electric part comprises a 95kW/440Nm e-motor that is sandwiched between the engine and the nine-speed automatic transmission and is powered by a 25.4kWh battery mounted at the rear of the car. Designed and developed in-house, the 96-cell battery delivers a range of 100km on pure electric power, and it can be topped up in just 30 minutes when plugged into a 55kW charger.
A 100km EV range – more than enough to allow most urban commutes to be accomplished without burning a drop of dinosaur juice – has long been regarded as the optimum metric for a plug-in hybrid, and packaging a battery that would deliver that range drove the design of the whole car. The new battery is narrower and thinner than the 13.5kWh unit in the W205 plug-in hybrid, but is twice the length, which is why the new C-Class is 30mm longer aft of the rear axle, with a completely different internal structure.
The carefully integrated slimline battery means there is no intrusion in the boot of the sedan hybrid, and the load area of the wagon version is 63mm longer. The battery weighs 218kg, 90kg more than the W205 hybrid’s battery, and all of it is over the rear axle. Both sedan and wagon hybrids therefore get standard air suspension at the rear to better control camber change when loaded.
Despite the extra weight, the hybrid C-Class models should be pretty perky to drive, the e-motor’s 95kW augmenting the 190kW of the petrol model and the 147kW of the diesel, and its 440Nm of torque available instantly.
One other bit of good news: The location of the battery means the hybrids have perfect 50/50 front-to-rear weight distribution, Früh says.
Although everyone seems to want an SUV these days, the C-Class has been a best-seller for the past decade. More than 2.5 million of the W205 model alone have been sold since the car’s launch in 2014, with China being its single largest market since 2016. The W206 – larger, with a more luxurious interior, a more dynamic chassis and offering a plug-in hybrid powertrain that’s the perfect halfway house for those not quite ready to make the leap to a pure EV – looks set to follow in its wheel tracks.