Innovation


Top of the C-Class.

17 January 2021

From the driver-oriented touchscreen to next-generation MBUX, we reveal how the Mercedes-Benz S-Class inspired the design and technology of its smaller stablemate, earning the all-new C-Class its ‘baby S-Class’ moniker.

Innovation


Top of the C-Class.

17 January 2021

From the driver-oriented touchscreen to next-generation MBUX, we reveal how the Mercedes-Benz S-Class inspired the design and technology of its smaller stablemate, earning the all-new C-Class its ‘baby S-Class’ moniker.

Exterior of the Mercedes-Benz C 200

The all-new C-Class is all grown up. Image: Mercedes-Benz Group AG.

More than 10 million individual examples of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class have been sold over the past 40 years. For designers and engineers of the latest iteration, the challenge was immense. How do you further improve what is already one of the world’s most successful and popular premium models?

The answer, it turns out, was close at hand. The next generation of the luxurious Mercedes-Benz S-Class saloon was developed in parallel with its smaller C-Class sibling, and launched in 2021 to high acclaim.

The ‘baby S-Class’

The venerable S-Class has been the brand’s standard bearer for luxury, quality, technology and safety for decades. It pioneers cutting-edge innovations that, over time, trickle through the entire Mercedes-Benz range. Yet with the pace of technology ever quickening, that transfer now takes place in the blink of an eye. And so, mere months after the S-Class debut, the all-new version of the C-Class has already been dubbed the ‘baby S-Class’ for the striking similarities to its upmarket stablemate.

But the new C-Class, arriving with enlarged yet still practical proportions and a striking new design ethic, is fundamentally well suited to incorporate some of the best features from the S-Class playbook.

Seventh-generation Mercedes-Benz S-Class

The seventh-generation Mercedes-Benz S-Class saloon was developed in parallel with its smaller C-Class sibling. Image: Simon Shiff.

Screen time

Take the cockpit, for example. The new C-Class has leapfrogged the striking ‘widescreen’ display arrangement, a favourite in models from the A-Class and E-Class to most Mercedes-Benz SUVs including the GLA and GLB. It now evolves to an even more stunning system that was first featured in the cutting-edge S-Class.

That means a high-resolution 12.3-inch LCD screen in front of the driver is paired with a tablet-style 11.9-inch touchscreen mounted in the centre fascia and slightly angled to the driver, creating a gorgeous focal point that flows through to the centre console.

Interior of the Mercedes-Benz C 200

The all-new C-Class has leapfrogged the ‘widescreen’ display arrangement favoured by most models in the Mercedes-Benz range and instead features a high-resolution 12.3-inch LCD screen first introduced by the S-Class. Image: Mercedes-Benz Group AG.

Next-gen MBUX

This striking rectangular screen forms the nerve centre for the second generation of the MBUX infotainment system, enabling both fingertip and voice control over most major functions from navigation and entertainment to telephony and ventilation controls. The MBUX navigation can also be specified to include augmented reality – virtual objects, information and markers are super-imposed on imagery from the vehicle’s cameras to overlay helpful prompts such as directional arrows or house numbers.

New C-Class models are also equipped with a fingerprint scanner, which enables convenient and secure access to MBUX while protecting personal data and settings. The second-generation MBUX is also more intelligent, with improved capability to ‘learn’ the habits of occupants and prompt helpful suggestions and information over time.

New dimensions

With the new C-Class being considerably larger than its predecessor, front and rear passengers alike benefit from increased exterior dimensions including an added 25mm in the wheelbase, freeing up extra legroom. There is also a new centre-mounted airbag for front passengers, integrated into the console side of the driver’s seat to prevent interaction between front-row occupants in the event of a heavy side-on collision. The new C-Class also features Ambient Lighting, allowing almost unlimited scope for interior illumination with 64 colours and precise, directly illuminated light lines.

Interior of the Mercedes-Benz C 200

Considerably larger than its predecessor, the all-new C-Class features an additional 25mm in the wheelbase, freeing up extra legroom. Image: Mercedes-Benz Group AG.

Externally, the powerfully illuminating DIGITAL LIGHT system that made its debut with the S-Class is available as an option, featuring three extremely powerful LEDs that use 1.3 million micro-mirrors per headlight to precisely refract and direct light exactly where it’s needed.

New four-cylinder engines utilise turbocharging and also use a 48-volt integrated starter generator that works as a mild hybrid, recuperating energy that can be repurposed for ‘gliding’, or driving without throttle input, or to provide instantaneous boost under acceleration. The result is increased efficiency, making significant fuel savings possible.

The exterior design follows the lead of the S-Class and looks to be in motion at a standstill, thanks to a combination of short front and rear overhangs, and a stretched wheelbase. A raked bonnet features expressive powerdomes, while the standard AMG Line and new ‘Star Grille’ complete the look.

Redefining the segment

"The new C-Class redefines its segment in several respects at once,” says Professor Dr Uwe Ernstberger, head of S-Class and C-Class product group. “The comfortable spaciousness in the rear, the interior ambience and the high-quality finish. Plus there are equipment and comfort features from higher categories, such as DIGITAL LIGHT."

C-Class rear view

The new C-Class “redefines its segment” in several respects, says Professor Dr Uwe Ernstberger, head of S-Class and C-Class product group. Image: Mercedes-Benz Group AG.

The C-Class sedan has launched in two variants – the C 200 (1.5-litre four-cylinder, 150kW, 300Nm) and C 300 (2.0-litre four-cylinder, 190kW, 400Nm), both accompanied by a 48-volt mild-hybrid system providing up to 15 kW and 200 Nm of additional assistance. In time, the local C-Class range is expected to expand with even more performance from Mercedes-AMG.

With its array of significant new features, Mercedes-Benz has positioned the latest edition of the C-Class significantly closer to the all-conquering S-Class flagship. More than ever before, the ‘baby S-Class’ moniker is well deserved.

Discover the all-new C-Class and book a test drive.

By Steve Colquhoun