All-new Mercedes-Benz C-Class revealed

  • Revitalised compact Mercedes range
  • S-Class donates styling and technology
  • Prices set to be confirmed by end of March

We’ll forgive you for thinking you’ve seen this before, but you’re looking at the first official pictures of the all-new Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon and Estate. No really, it’s box fresh.

With styling that apes the much larger, more luxurious S-Class, this is the fifth-generation of Mercedes to wear the C-Class nameplate and marks the first time the capacious Estate has arrived simultaneously with the more traditional Saloon.

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Silver 2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon

Expect replacements for the C-Class Coupe and Cabriolet to be unveiled before the end of 2021.

For now, the C-Class will be up against familiar foes the forms of Audi’s A4 and BMW’s 3 Series, as well as more leftfield choices such as the Alfa Romeo Giulia, Jaguar XE, plus Volvo’s S60 and V60 twins.

Why doesn’t it look much different?

Long-time followers of Mercedes form will recognise that their designs epitomise Darwinism in terms of evolutionary development.

Blue 2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate rear three-quarter

Consequently, it looks like a shrunken down S-Class, with a stronger-looking tail than its predecessor. Overall the effect is cleaner and less fussy.

Inside is more of a leap, although again mimics what we’ve already seen in the S-Class, with fewer physical buttons and a reclined portrait orientation multimedia screen that dominates the centre of the dash. As standard it’s 9.5 inches, while higher specification C-Classes will enjoy an 11.9-inch version.

2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class dashboard

All models have a dedicated instrument screen ahead of the driver, with various customisable settings for their appearance as well as the ambient lighting – something Mercedes does very well. A full-colour head-up display system is also available.

Which engines will be available?

Inevitably, Mercedes will flesh-out the C-Class’s engine line-up over first couple of years it’s on sale, but the initial range is quite broad – although none are what you might regard as especially performance- or efficiency-focused.

However, it’s worth noting that all of the first wave of engines are four-cylinder turbocharged units encompassing 48-volt mild-hybrid technology, mated to a nine-speed automatic gearbox – there’s no manual option.

Provisional data is as follows:

>> C 180 – 1.5-litre petrol, 170hp with 20hp electrical boost, 39.2-45.5mpg, 0-62mph 8.6 seconds

>> C 200 – 1.5-litre petrol, 204hp with 20hp electrical boost, 39.2-44.8mpg, 0-62mph 7.3 seconds

>> C 200 4Matic – 1.5-litre petrol, 204hp with 20hp electrical boost, 37.2-42.8mpg, 0-62mph 7.1 seconds

>> C 220 d – 2.0-litre diesel, 200hp with 20hp electrical boost, 50.4-57.6mpg, 0-62mph 7.3 seconds

>> C 300 – 2.0-litre petrol, 258hp with 20hp electrical boost, 38.1-42.8mpg, 0-62mph 6.0 seconds

>> C 300 4Matic – 2.0-litre petrol, 258hp with 20hp electrical boost, 35.8-40.4mpg, 0-62mph 6.0 seconds

>> C 300 d – 2.0-litre diesel, 265hp with 20hp electrical boost, 50.4-56.5mpg, 0-62mph 5.7 seconds

Following later in 2021 will be plug-in hybrid (PHEV) versions of the C-Class, which Mercedes promises will achieve up to 62 miles on a single charge. The first will use a 2.0-litre petrol engine and a 127bhp electric motor, although it’s not yet clear whether Britain will also get the later diesel-engined PHEV.

We also understand from our colleagues at CAR Magazine that the replacement for the Mercedes-AMG C 63 will also feature a four-cylinder engine in place of the current model’s sonorous V8. It too will embrace a plug-in hybrid system.

Silver 2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon front three-quarter

Not yet confirmed for UK-market C-Classes is the rear-wheel steering system. When in use, the rear wheels turn by up to 2.5 degrees in a manner similar to those offered by other manufacturers. Under 37mph, the rear wheels turn the opposite way to the front for additional manoeuvrability; above that speed they turn the same way for improved stability.

How roomy is the new C-Class?

Whether you opt for the Saloon or Estate body, both have identical passenger room, including 21mm of additional rear legroom compared with their predecessors.

2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class rear seats

Mercedes quotes the C-Class Saloon’s boot as being unchanged at 455 litres – still a smidgen roomier than equivalent A4 and 3 Series Saloons – but the Estate’s cargo bay is 490 litres with the rear seats in place.

Conveniently, the rear bench splits and folds in a 40:20:40 configuration – electrically so at additional cost – to liberate a useful 1,510-litre space.

What this means for you

This promises to be a technologically advanced range of upmarket-but-compact cars. We’re yet to see precisely what equipment is standard or optional, but it promises to wow with its conveniences.

2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class front seats

Mercedes’ MBUX multimedia system can be paired to smart devices in the home to see if anyone’s in ahead of your arrival, while your personal preferences for car settings are activated by a fingerprint scanner.

Those who drive a lot at night will doubtless enjoy the benefit of Mercedes’ digital LED lights that have supplementary functions such as flashing if you inadvertently enter a one-way street from the wrong direction, highlighting pedestrians the car perceives as being in potentially dangerous positions, and even projectsing guidelines onto the asphalt when navigating roadworks.

Blue 2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate front three-quarter

Clever stuff, but it won’t be inexpensive. Precisely how much will be known when order books open on 30 March 2021, with the first deliveries for British customers arriving in the summer.

Parkers will be among the first to drive the all-new Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon and Estate, so keep this page bookmarked for the latest news and views.

Further reading

>> Is the outgoing C-Class still worth a look?

>> What are the best estates on sale?

>> Find out how much your car is worth with Parkers

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Silver 2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon rear three-quarter