Technology has leapfrogged ahead again with the new 2022 C-Class. A mere fifteen-year ago, the 2008 Mercedes-Benz C204 C-Class debuted . At the time the marvels becoming available, like rear cameras and mobile phone connectivity, took your breath away. With the 2022 model presented, the technological advances on the all-new C-Class make previous generations look vintage. Though what was once old is new again. The 2022 C-Class, powered by a four-cylinder engine, immediately brings back memories of the Baby Benz that started it all, the Banker’s hot-rod.
Boost and Overboost
While the outrage over this new C-Class is that there be neither a 6- or 8-Cylinder engine, only a four-banger. These modern powerplants will not be like those engines of yesteryear. Classified as mild-hybrid with the second-generation integrated starter-generator (ISG), that allows the engine to cut off not just at a stop but while in motion and seamlessly return to revs at speed, this 48-volt electric architecture will be unlike any others. And a concept that will take some getting used to for many of us.
The new M 254 four-cylinder gasoline twin-scroll turbocharged 2-liter engine will produce 290 KW, 259 horsepower. The ISG will provide energy recovery and the ability to “glide” while the engine is switched off. These engines start very rapidly and comfortably. As a result, the start/stop function is almost invisible to the driver as it transitions from gliding with the engine switched off to acceleration under power. Inside the vehicle, a noticeable sporty engine sound is digitally created and synced with the engine revs. Twenty additional horsepower for up to thirty seconds is available when needed using an over-boost process.
These vehicles will come with a 9G-TRONIC automatic gearbox that integrates with the ISG. What is new about that is the electric motor, power electronics, and transmission cooler have now moved into the transmission—offering efficiency with regard to installation space and weight. The C300 Plug-in Hybrid with the 25.4 KW hour battery is expected to deliver 62 miles of all-electric range.
C300 will come to America in both a rear-wheel-drive or optional 4Matic. More advanced technology will include rear-wheel steering offering a more dynamic driving experience. AGILITY CONTROL, a dynamically configured suspension that will continuously adjust damping using a four-link front axle and a multi-link rear axle mounted to a subframe. AMG Line vehicles will offer an air-adjustable sport suspension.
Outside Is Classic Mercedes
Timeless lines are a hallmark of Mercedes-Benz’s styling studios, and the C-300 shows classic brand details throughout the car. The new C is longer and wider with a “cab-backward design” where the windshield, and passenger cell are moved rearward. A power dome on the hood accentuates the forward motion’s appearance, bringing back fond memories of the first-generation SLK. The short trunk lid and rear overhang and the two-piece design tail lamp treatment provide a clean rear design. Upcoming AMG Line vehicles will be lowered and feature a rear spoiler and diamond grille with a chrome star. Expect to see new paint colors and finishes – Starling Blue, Cirrus Silver, and Moonlight White, as well as Graphite Grey and Selenite Grey Magno.
The C-Class shares many of the S-Class innovations, especially when it relates to interior space for both front and rear passengers. The interior is larger due to the reshaping of the side’s B-pillar and design airbags and shape of the roof giving more shoulder, elbow, and headroom.
The switchblade remote key days are gone, like that of the removable crank to start a car’s engine. This C-Class knows you better than you know yourself. With a hefty puck-like digital key inhand, slip into the car, push the on button, enter your passcode, and touch the fingerprint scanner. Using the fingerprint scanner provides a secure login to the MBUX that protects your personal information from most recent destinations, behavior-based predictions, business calendar entries, emails, and other personal data. Even payment processes via Mercedes me are all stored securely.
All Mercedes-Benz vehicles’ interiors have transformed from analog gauges and switches to dash-mounted tablets and sweeping digital display panels. That makes any of us who grew up watching the Jetsons proud. The C-Class’s interior styling continues to be more S-Class like with two display screens designed to provide the driver a constant flow of information. Add to that a newly available color Heads Up Display (HUD) that projects a virtual image measuring 9 x 3-inches floating above the hood ahead of the driver.
The large center 11.9-inch flat panel is tilted towards the driver offering a more driver-centric cockpit. Twice the size of the previous MBUX Screen, this provides for available augmented video for navigation using the cameras to project to the screen, images of the vehicle’s surroundings. Virtual objects, information, and markers are superimposed, such as traffic signs, directional arrows, lane-change recommendations, and house numbers. It will make navigation easier, especially in urban areas.
Ahead of the driver is the standard 12.3-inch high-resolution display setting it apart from traditional round dials. This screen can be set up with classic, sport, and understated modes, depending on the driver’s preference, or navigation can be displayed across it.
Standard C-Class models will have the traditional round sport steering wheel with single side wings with embedded controls. The AMG line will come with the latest Mercedes-Benz AMG flat-bottomed steering wheel, thicker and will feature split side wings with switchgear.
Lighting technology has taken about 100 years to go from a flame to using LED light. The C-Class’s digital light technology is a leap forward, making it bendable and adjustable.
Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC will automatically maintain a preset distance from vehicles ahead on all types of roads. A new feature responds to stationary vehicles on the road at speeds up to approximately 62 mph (previously 37 mph).
Rear Axle Steering will provide drivers with a more accurate response when driving. Active Steering Assist will help the driver to stay in their lane at speeds up to 130 mph. The 360° camera will provide additional lane recognition and improve performance while steering through bends in country roads and lane centering on highways.
This software will be updated securely via over-the-air updates (OTA.) When software updates from Mercedes-Benz become available, a message will appear on the MBUX screen and the Mercedes Me app. All the user needs to do is accept the terms of the software update, then a download can begin and be installed in the background or be scheduled for later.
What to Expect Going Forward
With 10.5 Million C-Class vehicles sold since 1982 – and the highest volume Mercedes-Benz model in the last decade, there will be plenty of future ahead. Do not expect to see the European diesel variants here in the US, but they will be available overseas. While a station wagon is two out of every three C-Class cars sold in Germany, there is always hope that body style to come to the US. There is an All-Terrain model in the works, and while Mercedes-Benz has removed the EQC Battery Electric vehicles (BEV) for their planned US release, a BEV version of the C-Class version is rumored.
This new C-Class will be produced in Bremen (Germany), Beijing (China), and East London (South Africa). No word on production at the Alabama plant, which recently ceased current model C-Class production.
Expect deliveries for the hybrid and AMG-Line C-Class to begin in early 2022, with the plug-in-hybrid version following later.
Words by William West Hopper, Images from MBUSA.
Mr. Hopper is Immediate Past President of the Washington Automotive Press Association and currently produces a wide range of automotive content. You can find him on Instagram @DCCarGuy, Twitter @wwhopper, on YouTube under both The Real DCCarGuy and Queer4Cars.