2022 W206 Mercedes-Benz C-Class debuts – tech from S-Class, MBUX, PHEV with 100 km all-electric range

We’ve seen the spy shots, the teasers, and even the leaked images ahead of the car’s debut, but the wait is finally over as the wraps officially come off the 2022 W206 Mercedes-Benz C-Class, which makes its world premiere in both sedan and S206 estate forms.

While the fifth-generation model to wear the C moniker may play it safe on the looks front, there’s plenty of new happening under all that skin, including a hybridisation path that takes the operating range to 100 km on electric power alone.

First, let’s talk about the dimensions. At 4,751 mm long, 1,820 mm wide and 1,438 mm tall, the new W206 is 65 mm longer than the old car, with the increase translating to an extra 10 mm in the front overhang, 30 mm in the wheelbase and 25 mm in the rear overhang. It’s also wider (+10 mm) and lower (-9 mm) than the W205. At 2,865 mm, the wheelbase has also been increased over the old car, by 25 mm.

As revealed in the leaked images, the shape of the new car largely follows the design inclination taken by the W223 S-Class, mirroring the flagship’s slim headlamps and rakish tail lights and scaling down the proportions to a more compact package.

No more tri-star on top of the bonnet, but no shortage of grille designs options

Three front ends are available for the new C-Class, with different details in the grille designs – all now featuring a central tri-star – helping to differentiate the versions in quick fashion.

The base model features louvres, and moving on to the Avantgarde line there are additional decorative elements in the louvres, with the grille and front apron surrounds dressed in chrome. An AMG Line is the third, and this is distinguished by a striking diamond grille, with the pin design featuring a three-pointed star pattern finished in chrome.

At the back, the new tail lights are a two-piece design, with the light functions divided between the side wall and boot lid lamps. Line-specific trim in the rear bumper helps differentiate the different model versions. Aside from a host of wheel options ranging from 17- to 19-inch in size, the W206 also gets three new paint finishes, namely Spectral Blue, High-Tech Silver and Opalite White.

The overall shape is arguably less flowy than the W205, although if you’re a fan of reduced lines this one may have strong appeal. In any case, it may look easier on the eye in the metal, as has been the case before, so best not to judge too quickly. One thing that hasn’t changed is the fake exhaust tips, even on these AMG Line models – the real pipes are placed behind, pointing downwards.

As for main lighting, the new C-Class ships with LED High Performance headlamps as standard, but a Digital Light system as seen on the S-Class is now available for the car. The system, which incorporates a light module with three extremely powerful LEDs in each headlamp, in which light is refracted and directed by 1.3 million micro-mirrors. Aside from providing high-resolution light, the system also offers new functions such as the projection of guide lines or warning symbols onto the road ahead.

Welcome to a new level of digitalisation, and the world of big central screens

Move inside and it’s where all the action is, with an interior that borrows the display and operating concept from the S-Class, the interpretation being sported up a bit through plenty of dazzling visual cues and by angling the dashboard and central display by six degrees towards the driver.

The dashboard itself is divided into an upper and a lower section that flows into a wing-like section with new, flattened round air vents, which the automaker says is reminiscent of aircraft engine nacelles.

As is the case, plenty of interior trim options, including new interpretations of open-pored veneers in brown tones and a black, open-pored wood veneer featuring fine inlays of genuine aluminium, which follow the dashboard’s contours. A dashboard covered with man-made leather and nappa-look beltlines comes standard with the AMG Line, but can be specified as an option in other variants.

As for the seats, optional Avantgarde or sport seats for the new car uses layers and enveloping surfaces to create a visual impression of lightness, and the head restraints are a completely new design, attached to the backrest with a sealed piece of trim under which the adjustment mechanism is located.

The instrument panel is a free-standing, high-resolution LCD screen, and here, two size options are available, a 10.25-inch unit or a 12.3-inch version. Also to be found is a 23 cm by 8 cm colour head-up display, available as an option.

However, it’s the portrait-oriented central touchscreen display that is the visual standout in the front end of the cabin. Shades of Tesla abound strongly with this one, and buyers will also have two size options here, with either a 9.5 inch unit that comes as standard fit or a larger, optional 11.9-inch unit.

Both the instrument and media display can be individualised with three display styles (Discreet, Sporty, Classic) and three modes (Navigation, Assistance, Service). In “Sporty” the colour red is predominant and the central rev counter has a dynamic design, while “Discreet” reduces content to what is essential.

In addition, both screens can be shown in seven colour schemes, in line with the ambient lighting available for the car. The net effect of the whole cabin presentation, at least in photos, is undeniable – it leaves the immediate competition for dead in terms of gloss and veneer.

MBUX makes its appearance, and there’s smart home integration and online music service too

The fun for everyone doesn’t stop there. Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) makes its way into the C-Class for the first time, and the second-generation iteration has an improved “Hey Mercedes” voice control system, which is now more interactive and capable of learning by activating online services in the Mercedes me App.

The system also has smart home integration, which allows users to remotely monitor and control temperature and lights, shutters and electrical appliances in smart homes. At point of launch, the MBUX smart home function will support devices offered by smart home providers such as Bosch Smart Home and Samsung SmartThings, with other names set to follow.

There’s also an Online Music service, which fully integrates major music streaming services into the MBUX infotainment system, and an over-the-air (OTA) update feature ensures that the sytstem’s software is always kept up-to-date.

The dazzle and tech isn’t the only thing that the company is shouting up – there’s also more interior space in the W206. These include up to 35 mm more knee room and an additional 13 mm headroom in the rear, and elbow-room has also gone up by 22 mm in the front and 15 mm in the rear over the W205. Luggage capacity in the sedan remains as it was in the old car, at 455 litres.

Only four-cylinder engines across the petrol/diesel range, all mild hybrids

Under the hood, the C makes the switch to a full four-cylinder engine lineup, and this will include AMG models. At point of introduction, the W206 will be available in a variety of petrol and diesel versions, all equipped with EQ Boost mild hybrid tech in the form of a 48-volt electrical system and an integrated starter-generator (ISG), which provides intelligent assistance at low engine speeds.

Petrol variants are the C 180, C 200, C 200 4Matic, C 300 and C 300 4Matic, while two oil burners are available, these being the C 220 d and C 300 d. The C 180, C 200 and C 200 4Matic run with a 1.5 litre turbo, with outputs ranging from 168 hp on the C 180 to 201 hp on both C 200 variants.

As for the two C 300 variants, they are equipped with the automaker’s new M254 2.0 litre turbo mill, with the unit offering 255 hp and 400 Nm in terms of output. As standard, all C-Class models will be equipped with a 9G-Tronic automatic transmission.

Upcoming plug-in hybrid to feature an all-electric range of 100 km

The debut of the new C-Class also mentioned the upcoming appearance of the plug-in hybrid variant. While not formally detailed as yet, initial specifications of the C 300 e PHEV have been offered – working with a 2.0 litre M254 mill, the variant will have an electric output of 127 hp (95 kW)129 hp) and 440 Nm of peak torque, the latter available right from the start.

Equipped with a 25.4 kWh battery with 96 cells in a so-called pouch configuration and internal cooling, the PHEV will offer an all-electric range of around 100 km (on a WLTP cycle), which is more than double that on the previous-gen. The full electric power is available up to 140 km/h, at which point the automaker says it is softly capped.

A standard-fit 11 kW charger (depending on the market) is available for three-phase charging at a Wallbox connected to the domestic AC mains, while an optional 55 kW DC charging will juice up the battery from zero to full in around 30 mins. Also, the new battery, developed in-house by Mercedes, has a more compact footprint, eliminating the step in the boot seen previously and ensuring the luggage compartment floor is now level.

Rear-wheel steering goes on, 4Matic gets improvements

Elsewhere, the 4Matic system in all-wheel drive models has also been reworked and is now lighter than before. Changes include a new front-axle drive, which allows higher torque levels to be transferred with an ideal axle load distribution for improved driving dynamics, as well as a new transfer case with less friction losses.

Other technical highlights include rear-axle steering and an accompanying, more direct steering ratio at the front axle. The system adds a 2.5 degree steering angle at the rear axle to reduce the turning circle of the car by 43 cm, to 10.64 metres.

At speeds below 60 km/h, the rear wheels steer in the opposite direction to the front wheels, and by up to 2.5 degrees opposite to the front-axle angle during parking. This virtually shortens the wheelbase, making the vehicle more manoeuvrable as a result.

Meanwhile, at speeds above 60 km/h, the rear wheels then steer up to 2.5 degrees in the same direction as the front wheels. This virtual increase in the wheelbase provides improved handling stability and safety at high speeds, during fast lane-changes or sudden evasive manoeuvres.

The system also needs fewer turns of the steering wheel for full lock. With rear-axle steering, and depending on the drive concept, this requires 2.1 turns instead of 2.35 turns (rear-wheel drive with comfort steering) or 2.3 turns (4MATIC versions with comfort steering).

New suspension, enhancements to driving assistance systems

Elsewhere, a new, dynamically-configured suspension featuring a new four-link axle at the front and a multi-link axle at the rear mounted to a subframe makes its way on to the W206, and this provides the basis for a high level of suspension, ride and noise comfort, while offering agile handling and driving dynamics, says the automaker.

The car is also available with a continuously adjustable damping setup as well as a sport suspension. Air suspension has been ditched as a complete offering, but will still feature at the rear on both the sedan and estate vesions of the plug-in hybrid.

As is to be expected, the C-Class is packed with a plethora of safety and driving assistance systems, and items in the kitbag include Active Distance Assist Distronic, which now increases the operating speed in response to stationary vehicles on the road to up to 100 km/h from 60 km/h previously.

The Active Steering Assist, which helps the driver to stay in lane at speeds up to 210 km/h, now comes with additional lane recognition with the 360-degree camera to provide better performance in bends and improved lane centring on highways. Elsewhere, the Traffic Sign Assist system adds stop sign and red light warning functions as part of the Driving Assistance Package.

Other mod cons include Energising Comfort, which creates a matching atmosphere in the interior, as well as the familiar Air Balance package, which provides an individual fragrance in the interior in line with personal preference and mood.

So, what do you think of the new W206 Mercedes-Benz C-Class? Do you like the shape, and what do you think of the interior and all that glossy tech? Share your views with us in the comments section.

GALLERY: W206 Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan

GALLERY: S206 Mercedes-Benz C-Class estate

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