Mercedes-Benz has revealed the new W206 generation of C-Class, and confirmed that all launch variants will feature hybrid power. The initially all-four-pot line-up uses starter generator hardware to boost performance and reduce CO2 across the board, with both petrol and diesel engines in the mix. Mercedes says full hybrid variants will quickly follow, offering up to 62 miles of electric range - but that from launch, it's down to the C220 and 300 variants to demonstrate the new C-Class's updated exterior and interior.
It's fair to say the styling work carried out probably won't astound anyone familiar with the current model. The new look is marginally sharper than before and more in keeping with the wider Mercedes range, but much is inherited from from the outgoing generation. That is to be expected for a car which trades on its recognisable looks; instead it is the dimensions which have altered - the manufacturer suggesting that both saloon and estate are 'considerably larger' than their predecessors thanks to a 25mm increase at the wheelbase and a longer body.
This is said to be of significant benefit to both front and rear occupants, all of whom will likely appreciate integration of the latest MBUX technology into the new cabin - widely considered to be among the best around. That obviously includes the infotainment and a new instrument cluster - which is 10.25 inches in standard form or 12.3 inches in more expensive trim - and which is separated from the centre console display, so the layout is less slab-like than we've seen in other models. Around it are the usual cues, like its silver vents and - presumably thanks to a few ticked boxes on the options list - gloss carbon fibre-effect trim.
At launch, the C-Class gets a 1.5-litre petrol that comes in 180 and 200 guises, with up to 204hp, while the C 300 with a 2.0-litre producing 258hp from its mild hybrid setup delivers a 6.0-second 0-62mph time. Expect that to be a big seller. Unsurprisingly, the diesel range consists of just the C 220 d and C 300 models, with the latter rated at 265hp as an MHEV. With its 406lb ft of combined torque, it's the quickest model with a 5.7-second 0-62mph time, along with a quoted 55mpg combined.
Still, it's what to come that'll likely be most significant, because Mercedes's plug-in models will boast an impressive sounding 62 miles of range. Using a 25.4kWh high voltage battery mounted in the boot, with a full charge time of around 30 mins, the four-cylinder engine-based powertrains will start from 200hp, so expect them to be pretty nippy higher up the range. The hybrid variants will, of course, be vital to ensuring Mercedes's mid-sized saloon remains competitive in its key markets, including China, America, Germany, and the UK.
Mercedes has also sought to get more from the C-Class chassis. A new four-link axle has been introduced at the front (the rear remains a multi-link affair) which is claimed to improve ride and handling across the board. Adjustable damping is optional - presumably depending on trim level - although the plug-in hybrid models will get air springs at the back to better accommodate the extra weight of the battery pack. Rear-wheel steering is also on the extras list, if you fancy dialling in yet more agility. No word on UK pricing yet or the next generation AMG cars - the new C-Class isn't due on sale here till the summer - but expect prices to start at around £38k.
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