It’s coming up on four decades since the original “Baby Benz” made its debut. Not everyone inside what was then Daimler-Benz AG was pleased with the results. Skeptics feared the little sedan would tarnish the image of a brand best represented by the classic S-Class.
They needn’t have worried. What was originally known as the 190 proved to be a major success. In the years that followed, it opened the doors for a massive brand extension now covering seemingly every possible luxury niche from near to ultra-premium.
Sedans have lost much of their momentum these days. More and more Mercedes buyers are migrating to products like the GLB and GLC crossovers. But there’s still a loyal base of buyers. And they’ll find plenty worth checking out when the 2022 Mercedes-Benz C-Class rolls into showrooms mid-year.
New C-Class borrows liberally from the S-Class flagship
Technically, the model making its debut today is the fifth-generation C-Class – the sixth if you include the original Mercedes 190. The 2022 has come a long way from that pint-sized Baby Benz. It’s bigger, more stylish, far more lavishly equipped and features many of the same, high-tech systems offered in the recently updated S-Class.
“The letters C and S sit at opposite ends of the alphabet. However, in our portfolio they’re now moving closer together,” said Ola Källenius, CEO of Daimler AG and head of the Mercedes brand. “With the latest generation MBUX and comprehensive electrification, our most successful model range will once again raise the bar as the most sophisticated offering in its segment.”
The latest C- and S-Class models come closer in a variety of ways, starting with styling. The little sedan picks up many of the design cues first seen on the latest flagship model.
The 2022 C-Class, known internally as the W206, adopts a bigger grille framed by slimmer headlights and, depending upon the model, larger air intakes below the bumper. The hood is more sculpted, with crisp bulges implying the power of the various engine options.
The raked windshield flows into a more coupe-like roof that, in turn, folds into a shortened rear deck lid and horizontal
taillights. The “cab backward” proportions, widened track and tires measuring 18 or 19 inches, give the 2022 C-Class a more sporty stance.
Longer, wider and roomier
The 2022 C-Class grows 2.5 inches, to an overall length of 187 inches. It’s slightly wider as well, though it stands about a half-inch lower than the outgoing sedan. Key interior dimensions, including rear legroom, grow ever so slightly larger.
The new sedan features plenty of traditional luxury details, including leather surfaces and wood trim. For this sort of buyer, however, Mercedes is betting the real selling point will be all the new technology. That includes a freestanding 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and an 11.9-inch central touchscreen, both angled slightly toward the driver to give the cabin more of a cockpit feel.
The new C-, like the latest S-Class, is outfitted with the second-generation Mercedes-Benz voice assistant, MBUX. Simply say, “Hey, Mercedes,” and it will control a broad range of vehicle functions using plain English commands. MBUX also performs many of the same tricks as voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Home system.
While the new Driver Assistance Package doesn’t quite cross into hands-free territory, it can reduce stress on a motorist, especially on long trips and while crawling along in traffic.
Cutting-edge technology, even under the hood
With the latest edition, we are taking the next logical step on our road to the digital and sustainable future with a host of innovations and cutting-edge digital elements,” said Mercedes’ sales chief Britta Seeger.
The focus on high-technology continues under the hood, the 2022 Mercedes C-Class introducing a new, more powerful four-cylinder engine with a 48-volt mild hybrid assist system.
The 2.0-liter inline-4 punches out a nominal 255 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. However, using the integrated starter-generator can kick in another 20 hp and 148 lb-ft for brief bursts. That helps the C-Class hit 60 in 5.9 seconds, with a top speed of 130 mph.
The engine is paired with a 9-speed automatic. Power is directed either to the rear wheels in the C300 model or, with the optional 4Matic package, to all four wheels.
While the new 2.0-liter package is the only engine offering for U.S. buyers at launch. There will be a mix of options available in other markets, including various hybrids and even plug-ins. American motorists will see the next-gen Mercedes-AMG C43 follow later.
Pricing to be announced later
Mercedes won’t talk pricing until closer to the official launch of the 2022 C-Class in July. The current version of the sedan starts at $41,600 before delivery fees, taxes and other charges.
Since the original Baby Benz was launched in 1982, Mercedes has sold 10.5 million sedans in this segment. That includes about 2.5 million of the outgoing generation. It will be a struggle to maintain that momentum, considering the ongoing migration to SUVs and CUVs. But the Teutonic automaker is betting it has enough to offer with the new C-Class to win back many traditionally loyal buyers.