New 2021 Mercedes C-Class hybrids: specs, prices and details

Mild-hybrid versions of the new C-Class saloon and estate are on sale now, starting from £38,785; C 300 e plug-in hybrid to follow

New 2021 Mercedes C-Class

The fifth-generation Mercedes C-Class executive saloon and estate is on sale now. It’s the first 'mainstream' Mercedes model to offer only electrified powertrains, with all of the standard petrol and diesel engines using 'EQ Boost' mild-hybrid technology and an improved plug-in hybrid set to join the line-up, too.

For the time being, the mild-hybrid variants are all that's available, with first deliveries expected to begin later in 2021. The new plug-in hybrids are expected to follow soon, and an AMG version of the car is also in the pipeline, powered by a new four-cylinder hybrid engine being developed by Mercedes' performance arm.

Prices for the latest generation of the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series rival start from £38,785 for the entry-level saloon, and £40,420 for the estate version.

New Mercedes C 300 e plug-in hybrid engine, battery, range, power and charging

For the time being, Mercedes has only announced details of a single plug-in hybrid drivetrain for the new C-Class: the C 300 e petrol. The C 300 de diesel-electric plug-in hybrid will also make a return for this generation, while more or less powerful plug-in options may also be added to the range at a later date.

The C 300 e combines a 201bhp 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, turbocharged petrol engine with a 127bhp electric motor. The maximum system output is 308bhp and maximum torque is a healthy 550Nm. A 25.4kWh battery (up from the old model's 13.5kWh) provides sufficient energy for up to around 60 miles of electric driving, says Mercedes, at up to 87mph.

Unusually for a plug-in hybrid, the C 300 e will offer the option of DC rapid charging capability, at a speed of 55kW for a total top-up time of just 30 minutes. The standard on-board charger will offer 11kW top-up speed (or 7.4kW from a single-phase electrical supply, as found in the majority of UK homes). Claimed fuel-economy and CO2 emissions figures have not yet been confirmed.

Mercedes describes the new C-Class hybrid's driving experience as "significantly more electric" than its predecessor's, with the increase in electric range (from circa 30 miles to circa 60 miles) opening up the possibility of even more regular journeys being completed using no fuel whatsoever.

The amount of energy recovered from braking has been increased, while the car can use navigation data to determine the most efficient mix of electric and petrol power to deploy in the course of a journey. Both a 'battery hold' mode (to preserve battery charge for use later in a journey) and an 'electric' mode (to force the car to stay on electric power as much as possible) are available to be selected by the driver.

Practicality and boot space

A moderate increase in exterior dimensions has translated to more space inside for occupants: Mercedes claims 22mm more elbowroom in the front and 15mm more in the rear compared to the outgoing C-Class. Rear headroom is said to have increased by 13mm in the saloon and 11mm in the estate, while there's a claimed 35mm more kneeroom in the rear.

There's a major improvement in the boot, where the battery no longer results in an awkward box-shaped intrusion into the luggage area. In the saloon, there's been a 45-litre increase in luggage capacity, to 360 litres in total, while the estate can now hold 490 litres with seats in place and 1,375 litres with them down. The length of the boot floor in the estate has increased 63mm to 1,043mm, and height of the compartment by 150mm to 732mm.

Interior and technology

Inside, the redesigned C-Class dashboard is divided into an upper and a lower section: there's a wing-like section with flattened round vents, as well as a trim piece that flows from the centre console to the dashboard without interruption. The dashboard and central displays are slightly tilted towards the driver by six degrees for added 'driver focus'.

Like the latest S-Class, the new C-Class is equipped with the second generation of the MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) system. All versions of the new C-Class come as standard with an 11.9-inch central infotainment display and a 12.3-inch digital driver’s display. The on-board technology can be further upgraded with a head-up display and augmented video functionality as optional extras.

As on the first-generation MBUX introduced by the current A-Class, voice commands using the phrase 'Hey Mercedes' are supported. The system can also be used to request instructions for or explanations of certain functions, while it can recognise different people's voices. It's also possible to link the system to 'smart home' devices to remotely control your lights, heating or alarm system from your car.

Price, equipment and specifications

The new C-Class is available in four trim levels: Sport, AMG Line, AMG Line Premium and AMG Line Premium Plus. Entry-level Sport cars get the 11.9-inch central infotainment display and 12.3-inch digital driver’s display as standard, plus the ‘Hey Mercedes’ virtual assistant, 17-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, heated front seats and wireless smartphone charging.

There are also safety systems, including active lane-keeping assistance, active blind-spot monitoring and the ‘Parking Package’, which includes a reversing camera. Prices for the C-Class in Sport trim start from £38,785 for the saloon and £40,420 for the estate. A diesel rather than petrol engine adds roughly £2,000 to the price tag.

For another £1,380, you can upgrade to AMG Line trim. This features 18-inch alloy wheels, privacy glass, AMG styling, a multifunction sports steering wheel finished in napa and visible twin exhaust pipes. AMG Line Premium trim adds 19-inch AMG alloys, ambient lighting, illuminated door sills, keyless go, power-adjustable front seats, steering column and exterior mirrors, MBUX augmented reality for navigation and a 360-degree camera. AMG Line Premium costs an additional £2,750 over AMG Line.

At the top of the range, until the fully fledged AMG version arrives, is the AMG Line Premium Plus. Starting from around £48,000 for both the saloon and estate, the top-spec car gets a panoramic sliding sunroof, head-up display and four-zone automatic climate control.

AMG Line Premium Plus is also the only version available with the ‘Driving Assistance Package Plus’ (£1,695) option, which includes additional safety systems like active distance assistance, traffic-sign assistance, active lane-keeping assistance, active evasive steering assistance, active braking assistance with cross traffic function, active emergency stop assistance and active blind-spot assistance.

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