New Mercedes C-Class 2021 review

New Mercedes C-Class 2021 review


The new Mercedes C-Class compact exec gets S-Class-inspired tech and new suspension to challenge the BMW 3 Series

  • 4.0 out of 5

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    The new Mercedes C-Class impresses with its S-Class-inspired operating system, ride comfort, excellent driving experience and solid body control, thanks to the new rear-axle steering. The lack of air suspension isn’t a problem either – few will miss it. However, the price will be a key factor when the car goes on sale in the UK.

    It used to take a long time for innovations in the luxury car segment to make their way down any maker’s line-up. But in the case of the new Mercedes C-Class, the process has sped up exponentially.

    Based on a heavily updated version of the old car’s MRA platform, this newcomer comes with plenty of nods to the new S-Class as it challenges the BMW 3 Series.

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    • Perhaps what will resonate most with buyers is the interior, which represents a total revolution over the old model. There’s more than a passing resemblance to the dash of the new S-Class limo, which is based around an entirely new operating concept.

      The new, portrait-orientated MBUX system rises out of the centre console, just like on the S-Class, and is available up to 11.8 inches in size. It lacks some of the limo’s features, such as haptic feedback and OLED display technology, but it runs the new software with natural voice control, drip-fed updates constantly over the air, and a well managed driver profile system.

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      You can set up a profile for each person in your household, which is loaded up via a fingerprint scanner or by simply saying “Hey Mercedes, please load my profile”. Each profile sets the driving position, favourite radio station, frequent destinations and more, and can be loaded the second you get into the car. It is the most impressive system of its type, and a key part of a new environment that’s immediately welcoming.

      We’re driving a C 300 d 4MATIC with optional rear-wheel steering. The engine is an updated version of the previous car’s 2.0-litre turbo, with new 48-volt mild-hybrid assistance. Power goes to all four wheels through a nine-speed automatic gearbox.

      The mild-hybrid tech stands out as a big upside of the new model. Not only is the engine now more responsive thanks to a 20bhp boost, it’s also far more refined.

      Again, the C-Class should score highly for comfort, thanks to the updated chassis and suspension. It does without the optional air set-up offered on the last car (although plug-in hybrid versions do get air suspension on the rear axle), but the new adaptive steel-spring configuration is just as good.

      There’s an excellent compliance to the car in comfort mode, so the air set-up won’t be missed by buyers who want ride quality. The soft ride can be traded for more body control in Sport mode, which makes the C-Class more assured without losing too much comfort.

      Rear-wheel steering may also be popular with buyers. It works like any other such system, turning the rear wheels in the same direction as the front wheels at high speed for better stability, and in the opposite direction at low speed for better agility and a tighter turning circle.

      In spite of the slight growth in length – 65mm more than before at just over 4.7 metres, with a 25mm longer wheelbase – space in the back still feels a little limited. There’s lots of legroom, but headroom is a little compromised by the car’s swooping roofline at the back. It’s one area where there’s still a key distinction between the C-Class and the larger, older E-Class.

      Model:Mercedes C 300 d AMG-Line
      Price:£46,000 (est)
      Engine:2.0-litre 4cyl turbodiesel MHEV
      Transmission:Nine-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
      0-62mph:5.7 seconds
      Top speed:155mph
      On sale:Summer 2021
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