Decades ago, Mercedes-Benz was known for making large, luxurious and highly prestigious vehicles. In fact, the ‘smallest’ Benz sedan you could purchase was the W123, a predecessor to the E-Class.
It was the cheapest too. This placed Mercedes-Benz ownership out of reach of many, which prompted the German brand to create a compact car. 1982 saw the introduction of the W201 190 model, known affectionately as the ‘Kleine Benz.’ After 11 years and a very successful production run, Mercedes officially renamed the lineage 'C-Class.'
The C-Class has become a staple of the Benz line-up and, while no longer the smallest car in the brand's offering, is still a hugely important car. Mercedes-Benz knows this, which is why the W206 is such a leap forward when compared to the already talented W205.
Available now, in showrooms from December 2021, the new C-Class will be built in three factories; one in China, another in Germany and the last in East London, South Africa. Co-CEO of Mercedes Benz SA, Mark Raine, says the fact that East London is one of the three global plants for the new executive sedan is a "massive success story." The manufacturing facility has received a number of updates, expanded by 100 000 square metres. Energy efficient and environmentally friendly, the new paint shop, for example, reduces energy consumption - per vehicle - by 25%.
But what about the car itself?
Drawing on design cues first seen on the new S-Class, it also derives myriad high-tech features from the recently introduced range-topper. Furthermore, Raine noted, “I’m certain that our most successful model range will once again raise the bar as the most sophisticated offering in its segment.”
The first models available locally will be the C200 and C220d, which both utilise four-cylinder engines. The C200 produces 150 kW of power and 300 Nm of torque, while the turbodiesel 220 musters up 147 kW and 440 Nm of torque. Impressively, the C220d is capable of achieving 4.6 L/100 km, while the 200 is rated at 6.6 L/100 km. This, says Mercedes-Benz, is based on the NEDC combined values, with WLTP figures to be communicated at a later date.
Both models can sprint to 100 km/h in just 7.3 seconds, the C200 reaching a top speed of 246 km/h and the C220d capable of 245 km/h.
A nine-speed automatic gearbox is standard, while the new suspension setup allows for a well-chosen balance between ride comfort, dynamic handling and refinement.
The wheelbase has been increased by 26 mm, to 2865 mm. This is longer than the W211 E-Class Mercedes, for example. Overall length now measures 4751 mm, while the width is pegged at 1820 mm.
Like the desirable S-Class luxury sedan, the new W206 C-Class is equipped with second generation MBUX, which gives the C-Class interior a more digital and intelligent feel. Like all current Benz models, the screens can be personalised to suit your mood. Three display styles - Discreet, Sporty and Classic - are on offer, along with three models (Navigation, Assistance and Service).
At launch, a limited edition C200 will be made available, called the Edition 6. Apart from two unique colours, Spectral Blue and Selenite Grey, Mercedes-Benz has included a host of standard features. AMG Line, a panoramic sunroof, 19-inch alloy wheels and Agility Control are all standard. Just 400 models will be made available.
The C200 will retail for R849 000 while the torquier C220d will come in at R908 500.