Mercedes-Benz introduced the 190 model in 1982. The Saloon (W 201 series) was the first car in a new model series referred to within the company as the “compact class” – below the E-Class, S-Class and SL-Class.
The new model, designed by Bruno Sacco, took Mercedes-Benz values into the mid-range of the market. This included the company’s focus on technical innovations: the
W 201 featured a chassis with multi-link independent rear suspension, a lightweight structure made of high-strength steel, bodywork with exemplary aerodynamic qualities and a high level of passive safety.
The 190 engines also set new standards: the use of an encapsulated engine in the diesel version led to the 190 D becoming known as the “whisper diesel”, while four-valve technology turned the petrol-engined version of the compact class into a high-performance sports car.
The 202 series was the first to bear the name Mercedes-Benz C-Class. The Saloon
(W 202) made its debut in 1993. The C-Class continued the tradition of the 190, but with a larger and more comfortable interior while retaining the same exterior dimensions. Standard equipment was also significantly enhanced, at prices comparable to those of its predecessor. The Estate (S 202) introduced in 1996 offered even more space.
In fact, the 202 series played a crucial role in the ongoing development of passenger-car diesel engines at Mercedes-Benz. The C-Class comprised the world’s first passenger cars to have four-valve diesel engines. Then came the first turbodiesel passenger car with four-valve technology and charge-air cooling, and in 1997 the
C-Class also introduced the diesel engine with common-rail direct injection (CDI).
But the new model series also introduced new features for petrol engines: it was in the C 230 Kompressor that Mercedes-Benz first went back to the idea of using a Roots supercharger to boost engine power, after more than 50 years.
The third generation of the compact class (W 203), launched in 2000, was a decidedly sporty design, and in the fall of 2000, a sports coupé (CL 203) was also added to the
C-Class. The new Estate (S 203) arrived in 2001, with a stronger focus on lifestyle and practical utility values.
The new model series contained a raft of technical innovations as standard equipment. Alongside a high level of safety, exemplary comfort and reliability, the most distinctive features of the C-Class were its agility and sporty performance.
The technical innovations making their first appearance in this generation of the
C-Class included the SEQUENTRONIC automated six-speed transmission.
In 2007 Mercedes-Benz presented the 204 series as both Saloon and Estate – and for the first time there were distinctive vehicle faces for the different equipment lines. The Sports Coupé of the predecessor series was succeeded by the CLC-Class.
Mercedes-Benz introduced a new C-Class Coupé as a facelifted version of the 204 series in 2011.
The fourth generation of the compact class set new standards in terms of safety, design, spatial comfort, agility and economy. Among the features contributing to exemplary safety were the AGILITY CONTROL package, Intelligent Light System with five different lighting functions and the PRE-SAFE® preventive occupant protection system.
With its numerous BlueEFFICIENCY models, the C-Class from the 204 series showed innovative and holistic approaches to the clean car. Both the spark-ignition and diesel variants benefited from the pioneering developments of the Mercedes-Benz engineers. For example, the new models used at least 10 percent less fuel compared with their predecessors – while maintaining the same levels of performance and agility.