HomeOpinionBrace yourself for the new Mercedes-Benz C-Classs

Brace yourself for the new Mercedes-Benz C-Classs

BY ANDREW MUZAMHINDO

It will be larger, more intelligent and more connected than its predecessor. The all-new C-Class brings technology from the new S-Class to the exec saloon sector.

Expect it in the Zimoco showrooms during the last quarter of this year. What a worthwhile Christmas gift!

Since its introduction in 1993, the C-Class has garnered a total of 8,6 million sales worldwide, including 2,5 million sales of the 4th-gen model, which was introduced back in 2014. A good deal of Mercedes’ growth and profitability over the past three decades can therefore be traced to the success of the brand’s sports executive sedan. So, the new model (codenamed W206) clearly has a whole lot to live up to.

It is not every day Mercedes-Benz reveals an all-new model, but it is now inevitable the C-Class is on its way to Zimbabwe courtesy of Zimoco the only official Mercedes dealership in Zimbabwe. They will stock the C180, C200 and C300 petrol.

With its S-Class-inspired exterior and jaw-dropping interior design, the 2022 C-Class sedan is also packed with an abundance of advanced technologies that place it ahead of the game of its most fierce rivals. Mercedes also took a big chance by eliminating the six-cylinder engine option with a four-cylinder-only line-up that is slated to extend to even the Mercedes-AMG C63. It’ll be interesting whether or not there will be any long-time buyer backlash on this, but make no mistake about it: the latest C-Class changes the rules in several vital categories.

In many ways, buyers will be getting a miniature, sportier S-Class sedan for tens of thousands of dollars less. It is a seriously hard-to-refuse compact luxury proposition.

SUVs and crossovers dominate the motoring industry but there is still a big market for the traditional executive saloon and the C-Class has been Mercedes’ biggest selling model for the last decade.

An all-new version is therefore a big deal and brings with its new technology, including a plug-in hybrid version with 100 km of electric range.

Mercedes typically uses its flagship S-Class to introduce its latest technology and style, and so it is with the new C-Class, which takes a lot from its big brother.

You will spot that inside with Mercedes’ new vertical central touchscreen that seemingly floats clear of the dashboard and provides your main interface with the car’s many and varied systems. It will be available in two sizes depending on which trim you go for and is paired with an all-digital instrument display that — again — comes in two sizes. Experience of other Mercedes models suggests investing in the flasher of the two options is well worth it if you love your tech. The style is also very heavily influenced by the S-Class, but that is no bad thing given Mercedes is really on its game here at the moment.

Second-gen voice-activated and fully connected ‘MBUX’ means you can integrate your life around your new C-Class, the ‘Hey, Mercedes!’ interface now able to identify different users by voice. A fingerprint scanner by the screen will mean different drivers can securely ‘log in’ to the car to access their own accounts and preferred settings, routes and similar. If you want you can even integrate MBUX with your domestic appliances via Mercedes’ ‘Smart Home’, meaning you could tell the car to switch the lights on and set the heating while you are on the way home so the house is warm and welcoming on arrival.

It is not just a rolling tech hub, though, and the fully hybridised engine range is tuned for maximum efficiency.

Based around four-cylinder petrols and diesels, all are ‘mild hybrids’ capable of coasting with the engine off and, in the petrol engine’s case, boosted by turbo technology developed with the Mercedes F1 team. All come with an automatic gearbox as standard.

Predictably, the new C-Class has grown. Length is up by 65 mm to 4 751 mm and width has increased by 13 mm to 1 820 mm, although a slightly sleeker roofline has reduced its height by 9 mm to 1 438 mm. All this makes it 63 mm longer, 10 mm wider and 1 mm lower than the Mercedes-Benz CLA. It’s also 42-mm longer, 7-mm narrower and 4-mm lower than its closest traditional rival, the BMW 3 Series.

The increase in length is allied to a longer wheelbase, which has grown by 25 mm to 2 865 mm. The added width, meanwhile, has brought with it the adoption of wider tracks. The front is up by 19 mm to 1 583 mm, while the rear is extended by 48 mm to 1 594 mm, with the effect that the wheels (ranging from a standard 17-inch to optional 20-inch alloys) now sit further outboard within the wheelhouses.

The new C-Class is underpinned by a reworked version of the W205’s Modular Rear Architecture (MRA) platform. Mercedes-Benz will not go into specifics, apart from saying that the suspension design is similar, with double wishbones up front and a multi-link arrangement at the rear.

What is more, in combination with the wider tracks, the springs, dampers and anti-roll bars have been retuned.

Adaptive dampers remain an extra-cost option and while there is no option of air suspension at the rear anymore, the new C-Class offers all-wheel steering for the first time, ostensibly in an attempt to increase low-speed maneuverability and improve stability at higher speeds. This enables the rear wheels to turn at up to 2.5 degrees in a bid to project it beyond the 3 Series for outright driver appeal.

The driving position is ergonomically pleasing, with plenty of adjustment available for the driver’s seat and the column of the newly styled steering wheel, which features touch-sensitive controls in its horizontal spokes on higher-end models. Outward visibility is good, if not great. Mind you, there is an armada of sensors and cameras to keep tabs during parking and the like. Depending on the derivative and trim level, you get a 10.25-inch or 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, together with a portrait-oriented touchscreen measuring 9.5 or 11.9 inches across.

As before, the so-called direct-shift transmission stalk is mounted on the steering column, which frees up space on the centre console for a large oddment bin. It incorporates a pair of drink holders as well as a USB-C port, with a wireless charging pad available as an option. Manual shifts can, as before, be actuated via steering wheel-mounted paddles.

The 1.5-litre C180 and C200 produce 125 kW and 150 kW respectively. They’re joined, from the outset, by the C300, which utilizes a 2.0-litre engine with 190 kW. The same powerplant is used by the C300e in combination with an electric motor, albeit detuned to 150 kW to form part of a combined petrol-electric output of 230 kW. These petrol engines Every C-Class engine comes mated with a 9-speed automatic transmission.

Rear-wheel drive is standard, although the C200 and C300 will also be offered with 4Matic four-wheel-drive in some markets.

You can start placing your orders with Zimoco today. Better still you can spec it to your liking and satisfy all your whims.

 

andrew@muzamhindo.com.

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