Next C-Class to go all-hybrid
Massive tech upgrades, but modest design tweaks expected for 2021 junior-executive class leader
Emissions-reducing hybrid technology will find its way throughout the entire Mercedes-Benz C-Class range when it’s upgraded in 2021.
Sources involved in its development have insisted the fifth-generation of the world’s best-selling premium car will offer both hybrid and plug-in hybrid power.
While the electrification of the C-Class sedans, wagons, coupes and convertibles is the biggest news, as Benz spends big to slide beneath tough new European emissions laws, the technical advances won’t stop there.
With 10 new pure battery-electric cars rolling onto the market before midway through 2022, Benz has also hinted at a BEV C-Class (or at least a C-Class-sized BEV, badged EQ), which would make the entire range the most efficient of its type in history.
Daimler can talk all it likes about its SUVs and its burgeoning small-car range, but the C-Class and its variants make up a full 20% of Mercedes-Benz’s sales, and it’s a strong seller globally.
It has so far wiped the floor with rivals like the BMW 3 Series, the Audi A4, the Jaguar XE and Volvos.
The new model will sit on a mild upgrade of Daimler’s rear-wheel drive MRA platform, which also underpins the E- and S-Classes and the bigger SUVs.
THE NEW MODEL WILL SIT ON A MILD UPGRADE OF DAIMLER’S REARWHEEL DRIVE MRA PLATFORM
It will grow longer in the wheelbase to deliver slightly more rear legroom, but it will not be much longer overall. Instead, most of the platform upgrades will be made to adapt the C-Class to its electrified future.
Every single model will be electrified through a choice of 48V mild-hybrid systems or the full plug-in system will be available and it will use four- and six-cylinder options.
The entry car will retain the C200 badge along with its 1.5l, four-cylinder petrol engine, linked up to an integrated starter motor with a small battery of its own.
But that car’s mild-hybrid, 48V technology will be spread across the C-Class board from mid-2021 with the belt-driven starter-generator allowing the combustion motor to deactivate when the car’s cruising and using its instant torque to help with accelerating at low engine speeds.
This time around the tech will join the in-line 3.0l turbo sixes as well, particularly in the AMG-badged C 53, so it will be for performance as well as economy.
It won’t be the first of its kind, though, with just about every German car maker set to counter the EU7 emissions rules with mild-hybrid, 48V power, right down to the next Volkswagen Golf Mk VIII.
The plug-in hybrid versions of the next C-Class will stretch the zero-emission driving range out to more than 80km — and this time it will be measured on the new, more realistic WLTP consumption/emissions test, rather than the old, laboratory-only NEDC rules.