Speaking at the launch of the facelifted E-Class, Schmidt – who oversees development of all Mercedes-Benz sedan-based models – confirmed key details about the next-generation C-Class, while the prototype seen here in public road testing reveals a strong resemblance to the next S-Class snapped almost undisguised last week.
Mercedes-Benz has created a brand new rear-wheel-drive platform for the next C-Class that will be more easily adaptable between models, including the next GLK-Class compact SUV due in 2015 – to be made in right-hand drive for the first time – and the next E-Class expected a year later.
“It is a completely new C-Class,” confirmed Schmidt.
“The body in white is new, the exterior, the interior…”
In addition to scoring a brand new platform, the next Mercedes-Benz C-Class will also borrow both technology that recently debuted in the facelifted E-Class, and technology that will be offered in the S-Class due later this year.
“The electrical systems I think will be adapted from the E-Class and the S-Class,” said the product boss, adding that “the new C-Class will get all the [E-Class] safety systems.”
Among the Merc-first safety systems making their debut on E-Class, and which are set for the C-Class, is Pre-Safe Brake, which detects pedestrians in addition to still and moving objects, and brakes the car to a standstill; and Pre-Safe Plus, which detects an imminent rear collision, activates the hazard lights to alert the driver behind, then tightens seatbelts and applies the park brake at standstill to minimise pushing into a vehicle ahead during a rear impact.
Body materials may also be shared with the next S-Class, and 2016 E-Class, with Schmidt explaining that “reducing weight is the key for better fuel consumption … so we will have some development in this area [with C-Class].
“But reducing weight is expensive,” he added.
Schmidt went on to announce that a C-Class Hybrid will form part of the fourth-generation line-up, following the E-Class Hybrid launched last year – Merc’s first hybrid – and the S-Class Hybrid expected in September.
“You have a rollout with hybrid cars on a large amount in future,” he said.
“If we start the roll-out of hybrid cars, you’d have to think the next C-Class will be a hybrid.”
While committing to hybrid technology, the product chief also confessed that there has been a delay with the roll-out of hybrid technology.
“Development of the hybrid took a long time,” said Schmidt. “I think with hybrid we started a little bit late, the Japanese started early. So we have for us a very new technology.”
The E-Class Hybrid launched in 2012 was the first Mercedes-Benz production model that combined an internal combustion engine with an electric motor. Unlike most rival hybrids, however, Schmidt believes the Mercedes-Benz method to team a diesel engine with an electric motor is smarter than using petrol.
“My opinion is to have a diesel engine with low consumption rather than a petrol.
“It’s better to have diesel on the hybrid than petrol on the hybrid”
The all-new fourth-generation Mercedes-Benz C-Class is expected at “the end of next year or beginning of the year after ” according to Schmidt. The prototype snapped cold weather testing reveals a higher waistline and softer rear styling than the current six-year-old generation.
An AMG version is expected after, with an AMG engineering boss confirming that the next C-Class AMG will be produced in all-wheel drive and for right hand drive markets.