Mercedes-Benz has finally pulled the covers off the 5th generation C Class, and from what we’ve seen, it’s an impressive machine. For the uninitiated, the official Mercedes-Benz C Class was built in 1993, giving the model a solid run of 28-years in production and counting, despite vehicles like the SUV threatening to put the sedan into extinction.

The new generation of C Class will be offered to customers in two formats – sedan and station wagon. However, it’s unlikely that the later will be sold in our market. South Africans aren’t moved by estate cars, they do well in Europe. Regardless of this, we think they’ve done a good job in the estate’s design, especially at the rear where these vehicles tend to look awkward because of their rounded hatch-like shape.

This is a new chapter for the German brand in the area of design and tech. A lot of what’s found in the new C Class was spearheaded by the new S Class. Its interior, for instance, borrows a lot from the larger, executive Benz. They share the Mercedes-Benz’s new steering wheel design, as well as the large media screen on the dash which seems to just flow seamlessly into the centre console. Standard in the new C Class will be the MBUX operating system, which will now have all the major music streaming services built-in. You’ll be able to speak to your Mercedes-Benz and request your favourite tracks on the move. Of course, interior room in the new vehicle has improved, giving passengers an additional 20mm of legroom.

From an exterior design perspective, the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class looks compact compared to its predecessor – this is largely due to a more tapered front and rear overhangs. Its narrow and streamlined headlamps and taillights also aid this new appearance. From the rear, it looks like the A-Class sedan. One could easily confuse the two. German engineers have improved the C-Class’s driving dynamics by giving it rear axle steering. This will give the vehicle agility at speeds and sharper cornering. When navigating tight inner-city environments, the rear axle steering makes the sedan easy to manoeuvre and park, thanks to the rear wheels’ ability to turn.

Two engine options will be on offer to C-Class customers, a petrol and a diesel four-cylinder with no V6 on the cards just yet. The secret with these two units is that they will be plug-in hybrids. Yes, they’ll be using a combination of electric power and combustion energy to run the vehicle, which makes you wonder what the next generation AMG-C63 will have under the bonnet. With the way things are going, it’s not looking good for those of us who’s inner child is awoken by the deep-throated burble of a V8. The electric motor in the new C-Class offers drivers a range of up to 100km, and depending on the distance, this should be enough to do the daily work commute without needing assistance from the internal combustion engine. When you’re home, simply plug the vehicle into the electric charger and charge it overnight as you would your mobile device. The best part? It’s that the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class will be built right here in SA. You can look forward to its local launch in the latter half of 2021.

By Gugu Masuku