No one would be surprised to learn the C-Class is easily the most successful model in the entire Mercedes-Benz lineup.
In Australia alone last year, it moved around 8000 units – but with the latest version of C-Class arriving on local shores in August, that number could well be exceeded this year.
That level of success is also the reason you won’t find any new body panels on the facelift, though there is a new grille on some models.
According to Thomas Saelzle, head of exterior design, Daimler AG, the direction the design team had for the new mid-sizer was to maintain the model’s base form language, but to sharpen its character – ever so slightly.
“The overall brief for the 2018 C-Class was really to highlight some new technology that we have for the headlamps without affecting its inherent good looks,” Saelzle said.
“From an exterior perspective we didn’t change a lot on the car because we are convinced its design is still an exciting and popular one.”
Bigger changes can be found inside, although this C-Class update doesn’t include the company’s latest MBUX multimedia interface. It does get a fully digital instrument display, as well as a new steering wheel with an enhanced touchpad interface.
According to Jan Kaul, interior design manager on the AMG GT 4 Door Coupe, “the biggest changes we will see to interiors will come in the next few years, as electrification and connectivity ramp up with the advent of what we call CASE – Connected, Autonomous, Shared, Electric – which we hope to combine in a seamless package”.
“The possibilities to change the interior architecture in EVs where everything is digital and connected via technologies like our next NTG 7.0 infotainment system with enhanced voice recognition and functional flexibility is incredible.
“When you consider cars without even steering wheels which will turn the perception of space upside down, as there could be no need for a console between the driver and front passenger,” he explained.
“On the other hand, we also don’t want to upset the customer, so there’s a thin line between doing something that looks like a spaceship, which we as designers would like to do, and something that they will still recognise as a car.
“Our EQ brand provides a window into part of our future direction,” he concluded.
With more voice recognition gadgets like the Google Home and Apple HomePod entering our lives, you can expect to see the same style of connectivity moving into the car – but not too fast, says Kaul.
“For the next few years, expect to see bigger and bigger touch screens in cars, but not so far down the track, I believe these screens will be replaced by either voice recognition or the car has an artificial intelligence that knows exactly what you want or where you need to go.
“That said, I think people will still want some form of tactile interface with the machine, so I think nicely made buttons will not die out so soon,” said Kaul.