Which do you prefer – the sporty or classic look? For the first time in a Mercedes-Benz saloon the model variants of the fourth generation of the compact class presented in 2007 differed from one another through their distinctive front views. This innovation was one of many features introduced in the Mercedes-Benz C-Class from the 204 series. The AVANTGARDE model with its centrally positioned Mercedes-Benz star was an agile C-Class in a sporty design. The ELEGANCE and CLASSIC lines with the classic Mercedes-Benz radiator grille, on the other hand, exuded comfort and elegance.
The new C-Class was first presented to the Stuttgart public in January 2007 as a Saloon (W 204 series). Then in late March 2007 the new C-Class was launched on the European market, followed soon after by its appearance on the North American market. That autumn Mercedes-Benz presented the Estate version in the S 204 series at the Frankfurt International Motor Show (IAA). This was the third-generation Estate in the compact class from Mercedes-Benz.
The C-Class Sports Coupé was succeeded in spring 2008 by the Mercedes-Benz
CLC-Class. In technological terms, this new model series was still based on the CL 203 series. But the Mercedes-Benz designers completely revised the Sports Coupé and used around 1,100 new or further developed components throughout the entire vehicle.
With a body length of 4581 millimetres, the Saloon was 55 millimetres longer than its predecessor. The body width was increased by 42 millimetres to 1770 millimetres, and the wheelbase by 45 millimetres to 2760 millimetres. These dimensions provided the framework for a generously-sized interior and, therefore, enhanced comfort. The front shoulder room, for example, was increased by 40 millimetres.
But the C-Class underwent development in ways other than just spatial dimensions – the Mercedes-Benz developers also greatly expanded the series philosophy. Its prime attributes were safety, comfort, agility and great versatility as a product concept. In this way Mercedes-Benz was able to meet the expectations of very different customer groups.
The three equipment lines, AVANTGARDE, ELEGANCE and CLASSIC, gave particular emphasis to the areas of comfort and agility, depending on the variant.
In addition to the typical Mercedes-Benz driving culture, all model variants offered numerous technical innovations. These included, for example, the AGILITY CONTROL package with situation-responsive shock absorber control, Intelligent Light System with five different lighting functions and the PRE-SAFE® preventive occupant protection system. The 2007 C-Class was powered by four and six-cylinder engines, which delivered up to 13 percent more output than the units in the predecessor model, while using less fuel.
Design of the C-Class was based on the modern Mercedes-Benz idiom, which exuded technological serenity through the interplay of taut lines and large, quiescent surfaces. In the C-Class the pronounced V-shape at the front end also expressed typical qualities such as agility and readiness to perform.
It was the first time in a Mercedes-Benz saloon that the radiator grille was used as a distinguishing feature in order to position the model variants more distinctly. Three extended, horizontal louvers and a large, centrally positioned Mercedes-Benz star characterised the AVANTGARDE model as a traditional design feature of sporty Mercedes-Benz models. In interaction with the sporty equipment package, this design element highlighted the youthful, agile appearance of this C-Class. This was emphasised further by the AMG sports package, which included distinctively styled front and rear aprons and side skirts.
For the ELEGANCE model, Mercedes-Benz employed a three-dimensional, louvered radiator grille with a high-gloss paint finish to accentuate other classic brand attributes such as comfort and luxury. In CLASSIC guise, the new C-Class was deliberately understated and remained true to its tradition, yet offered the same technical innovations as the other two model variants. This concept enabled customers to set individual highlights in the configuration of their vehicle and tune the C-Class even more distinctively to their personal taste and lifestyle.
Under the term AGILITY CONTROL Mercedes-Benz subsumed all those new and advanced developments designed to enhance both comfort and agility. This standard-fit package included AGILITY CONTROL suspension, which controlled the shock absorber forces depending on the driving situation: when driving normally with low shock absorber impulses, the damping forces were automatically reduced for a noticeable improvement in road roar and tyre vibration characteristics – but without any compromise in handling safety. When shock absorber impulses were greater, on the other hand, maximum damping forces were set and the car was effectively stabilised. In addition, Mercedes-Benz also developed the ADVANCED AGILITY package with Sport mode, available as an option from autumn 2007.
ADAPTIVE BRAKE was another new development in chassis technology. It was based on technology from the S-Class and provided additional support functions for even more safety and comfort. Examples of this included Start-Off Assist for uphill gradients, priming of the braking system in critical situations and light contact to dry the brake discs in wet conditions.
With a remarkable boost in output of up to 13 percent and increase in torque of around 18 percent, the engines typified the dynamic character of the new C-Class. The four and six-cylinder units were noted not only for their spontaneous power delivery, but also for increased ride quality as a result of improved smoothness.
The Mercedes-Benz engine experts paid particular attention to further development of the four-cylinder engines for the new C-Class. In the petrol range, the output of the entry-level C 180 KOMPRESSOR increased from the previous 105 kW (143 hp) to 115 kW (156 hp), with maximum torque improved by 4.5 percent from 220 to 230 Newton metres. The C 200 KOMPRESSOR developed 15 kW (20 hp) more power than before. It had an output of 135 kW (184 hp) and generated its maximum torque of 250 Newton metres from 2800 rpm. These modified engines considerably improved the performance and fuel consumption of the four-cylinder models.
Advancement of the four-cylinder units was also the main focus for the diesel engines. The engineers further improved each system – comprised of engine, turbocharger and common rail direct injection – modifying over 90 components in the process. This package of measures resulted in the new C 200 CDI developing 11 percent more output than the predecessor model: 100 kW (136 hp) instead of the previous 90 kW (122 hp). The C 220 CDI developed a peak output of 125 kW (170 hp) instead of the former 110 kW (150 hp) and generated torque of 400 Newton metres at 2000 rpm – an increase of around 18 percent compared with its predecessor.
The modern V6 engines remained initially unchanged in the new C-Class range, with a choice of three spark-ignition engines and one diesel unit: the C 230 with 150 kW (204 hp), the C 280 with 170 kW (231 hp) and the C 350 with 200 kW (272 hp). The six-cylinder of the C 320 CDI developed 165 kW (224 hp). With the exception of the C 350, all models in the new C-Class were equipped as standard with six-speed manual transmission with AGILITY CONTROL gearshift. The top-of-the-range C 350 left the factory equipped with 7G-TRONIC, the world’s only seven-speed automatic transmission. This was also optionally available for the other V6 models in the C-Class.
Thanks to advanced engines, consistent lightweight design and good aerodynamics the Mercedes-Benz C-Class from the 204 series used up to 17 percent less fuel than the predecessor model of 2000. A Life Cycle Assessment for the new Saloon approved by the TÜV in February 2007 also showed that carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) for the current series were cut by 15 percent compared with the predecessor model.
During its development, the new C-Class was subjected to over 100 crash tests. These included the particularly demanding in-house impact test, the conditions for which went well beyond legal requirements. The basis of occupant protection was an intelligent body design, made of up to 70 percent high-tensile and ultra-high tensile grades of steel. Mercedes-Benz also further enlarged the crumple zones compared with the previous model and further optimised the impact flow: the new C-Class featured in its front-end structure four independently acting impact levels, which enabled forces to be distributed over a wide area while bypassing the passenger compartment.
The safety technology in the interior was complemented with the very latest protection systems. Seven airbags were included as standard equipment: two adaptive airbags for the driver and front passenger, a kneebag for the driver, two sidebags in the front seat backrests and two large windowbags which extended from the A-pillar to the
C-pillar in the event of a side impact. The driver, front passenger and passengers on the outer rear seats also benefited from belt tensioners and belt force limiters as standard. The standard head restraints operated on the NECK PRO principle: in the event of a rear-end collision the padded surfaces were pushed forward within milliseconds to support the head of the driver and front passenger at an early stage, thereby significantly reducing the risk of a whiplash injury.
Mercedes-Benz developed flashing brake lights as a major contribution to reducing rear-end collisions. These came as part of the standard equipment package in the new C-Class. If the driver needed to brake hard at speeds in excess of 50 km/h, the brake lights flashed rapidly to warn drivers behind.
Another special feature of the new Saloon was PRE-SAFE®. The preventive occupant protection system (available as an option) was linked to active safety systems such as ESP® and Brake Assist and able to recognise critical driving manoeuvres at a very early stage. If the vehicle was in danger of crashing as a result of heavy under or oversteer, or if the driver needed to brake very sharply in a dangerous situation,
PRE-SAFE® activated certain systems as a precaution to prepare the vehicle and its occupants for an impending accident. Accordingly the passive safety phase did not start once an impact had already occurred, but actually before an impending collision.
Developed by Mercedes-Benz, the Intelligent Light System was also available in this vehicle class for the first time. Powerful bi-xenon headlamps facilitated five different lighting functions set up for typical driving and weather situations: country mode, motorway mode, enhanced fog lamps, active light function and cornering light function. Accordingly, Mercedes-Benz made a further significant contribution to driving safety in poor visibility.
The two-tone dashboard and centre console were clearly laid out and well-arranged. The colour display was well positioned in the driver’s field of vision in the upper centre of the dashboard. It formed part of a new control and display concept adopted by the
C-Class from the top Mercedes-Benz models. The key bonus feature was the ready access it provided for frequently used functions. Linking the standard-fit multi-function steering wheel to the instrument cluster improved rapid access to a large range of information and functions directly in front of the driver.
The Saloon was followed in autumn 2007 by the C-Class Estate from the S 204 series. The Estate combined typical characteristics of the new W 204 such as safety, agility and comfort with an appreciable increase in space and flexibility compared with the
S 203 series. With a maximum load capacity of 1500 litres, the Estate boasted the largest transport volume of any premium estate vehicle in the market segment. The new Estate also borrowed all technical details – including safety and engine types, concept of design and equipment lines – from the C-Class Saloon.
A feature of the S 204 series was its spaciousness and high degree of variability and functionality. Compared to the predecessor model, the rear of the 204-series Estate was therefore much steeper, creating essential conditions for a larger load capacity. This now ranged from 485 to 1500 litres (VDA measuring method) – depending on the position of the 1/3:2/3-split rear seat backrests, which could be folded forwards. This represented an increase in load capacity of up to 146 litres compared with the predecessor model. The size of the largest possible cuboid to fit in the load compartment also increased by 66 litres compared with the predecessor model to 827 litres, beating all other premium estates in this class by between 50 and 100 litres. The maximum available interior length from tailgate to the footwell of the front passenger seat measured 2.82 metres – 17 centimetres longer than previously.
A series of practical details made loading the new C 63 AMG Estate even easier, more comfortable and safer. The load compartment featured two bag hooks and four lashing rings for securing cargo. Standard equipment included side stowage compartments with net covers and a collapsible shopping box as well as a combined luggage cover and retaining net. The new optional EASY-PACK tailgate opened and closed at the touch of a button and with the EASY-PACK load-securing kit (optional extras) drivers had even more options for dividing the load compartment (approx. 1.80 x 1.20 m) and securing their cargo.
The new C-Class Estate with a towing capacity of up to 1800 kilograms – the heaviest weight for this class of vehicle – demonstrated its great suitability as a towing vehicle. Optional ride height control ensured the vehicle maintained the same height whatever load it was carrying.
Fuel efficiency and cleanliness typified both the Saloon and Estate versions, since Mercedes-Benz engineers had further optimised the fourth C-Class generation in terms of fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emission compared with the 203 series.
At the Geneva Motor Show in February 2007, Mercedes-Benz gave a glimpse of the future of even more environment-friendly drive technologies: Here the brand introduced for the first time the BlueTEC exhaust gas aftertreatment in combination with a consumption optimised four-cylinder engine. The Vision C 220 BlueTEC demonstrated how it was possible to meet the even stricter EURO 6 emission standard, applicable to all new vehicles Europe-wide from 2015. Boasting an output of 125 kW (170 hp) and peak torque of 400 Newton metres, the Vision C 220 BlueTEC consumed just 5.5 litres of diesel per hundred kilometres. This was possible thanks to advanced development of diesel engine technology and intelligent energy management.
Shortly after the market launch of the C-Class Mercedes-Benz launched the models with 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive: this was available from summer 2007 for the six-cylinder models C 280, C 350 and C 320 CDI. Compared to the previous all-wheel drive technology, the latest-generation 4MATIC all-wheel drive system stood out for its higher efficiency, lower weight and more compact design. These advantages over the predecessor models translated into greater fuel economy and even more superior traction. Now for the first time a diesel model with all-wheel drive was also available in the C-Class: the new C 320 CDI 4MATIC developed 165 kW (224 hp) and required 7.7 litres of diesel per hundred kilometres.
Mercedes-Benz combined 4MATIC with the Electronic Stability Program ESP® and the traction system 4ETS, which specifically braked spinning wheels and transferred the torque to the wheels which still had good traction. The system used sensor signals to meter the automatic braking impulses that increased traction when moving off on slippery surfaces and could improve handling in critical situations. 4ETS achieved the effect of conventional differential locks and tangibly provided more comfort than the technology used in other all-wheel drive vehicles.
In summer 2007 Mercedes-Benz introduced the C 63 AMG – the new top-of-the-range model in the 204 series. While a new generation of the AMG C-Class racing car was already ensuring top-class motorsport thrills in the German Touring Masters (DTM), it was soon followed by a road-legal version from the production shops in Affalterbach. The market launch of the new V8 top model – this was already the fifth model version of the AMG C-Class – took place in early 2008. Its family tree stretched back to the C 36 AMG of 1993 – the first vehicle to be jointly developed by the partnership of
Mercedes-Benz and AMG.
The 6.2-litre V8 engine in the latest AMG version delivered peak output of 336 kW (457 hp) and maximum torque of 600 Newton metres. That accelerated the C 63 AMG from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.5 seconds; top speed was electronically limited to 250 km/h. Combined with the all-new front axle, AMG speed-sensitive sports steering and the new 3-stage ESP® system, the AMG sports suspension helped ensure maximum driving pleasure and excellent vehicle dynamics.
The C 63 AMG was an impressive enough sight simply to look at: both Saloon and Estate rested on their wheels, broad and low slung. The new engine bonnet with imposing powerdomes accommodated the specially developed AMG 6.2-litre V8 engine, which was related in technological terms to the 350 kW (470 hp) unit from the AMG C-Class racing touring car. The high output also benefited the power/weight ratio, which stood at a very favourable 3.6 kilograms/hp.
The C 63 AMG could put its considerable talent in the vehicle dynamics department to the newly developed AMG sports suspension and all-new three-link front suspension. At the same time a raft of measures ensured greater stability and precision in all driving situations. Moreover, the C 63 AMG was the first ever vehicle from AMG to offer an automatic double-declutching function when shifting down, thereby considerably reducing load change reactions.
From April 2008 the C 63 AMG went into service as the official DTM Safety Car. For this special use the top-of-the-range C-Class was equipped with a high-performance radiator, two engine oil coolers located on either side of the front apron and an additional, larger transmission oil cooler. The rear axle differential featured cooling fins and a separate oil cooler. Mercedes-AMG has supplied the DTM Safety Car since 2000, alternating from race to race with Audi. In Formula One a C 63 AMG Estate has been in service as the Official F1™ Medical Car since the 2008 season.
The C-Class from the 204 series was initially built in the German Mercedes-Benz plants at Sindelfingen and Bremen. Then series production also started up at the East London plant, South Africa, on 6 September 2007. That same month the
Mercedes-Benz C-Class was voted the most beautiful of all saloons and estates to come onto the market during the past year by readers of the car magazine “Auto Bild”.
In December 2007 the C-Class Saloon was awarded five stars by the European NCAP (New Car Assessment Programme) process for outstanding crash test results. According to the European NCAP organisation, the W 204 was one of the safest cars, thus confirming the extent to which the C-Class safety concept was in tune with the reality of road accidents.
In January 2008 the Mercedes-Benz C-Class was also voted most popular car by a large margin in Germany’s leading poll, for which the ADAC awarded the people’s favourite from Stuttgart its prestigious “Yellow Angel 2008”. Such popularity was also translated into market success: on 21 November 2007, just eight months after production start-up in March 2007, the 100,000th C-Class rolled off the production line at the Mercedes-Benz Sindelfingen plant, a carneol red C 280 right-hand drive model. Of the first 100,000 vehicles sold, the best-selling model from the new generation was the C 220 CDI.
At the Geneva Motor Show in March 2008 Mercedes-Benz presented three particularly fuel efficient BlueEFFICIENCY-variants of the C-Class. In the most powerful models, the C 180 KOMPRESSOR and C 200 CDI (available from spring 2008) fuel consumption was reduced by up to 12 percent as a result of a comprehensive package of different measures and technologies, while maintaining the high level of comfort and typical Mercedes-Benz safety: in the BlueEFFICIENCY version the 100 kW (136 hp)
C 200 CDI consumed just 5.1 litres of diesel per 100 kilometres, the C 180 KOMPRESSOR (115 kW/156 hp) used 6.5 litres of premium-grade petrol to travel 100 kilometres. This equated to 135 and 156 grams of carbon dioxide emissions per kilometre respectively.
In Geneva Mercedes-Benz presented its third C-Class BlueEFFICIENCY model, the
C 350 CGI with direct petrol injection. Available from late 2008, the model completed the BlueEFFICIENCY programme in the C-Class with the world’s first spark-ignition engine with spray-guided direct injection. The six-cylinder unit consumed 10 percent less fuel than the C-Class with the conventional V6 engine. The C 350 CGI BlueEFFICIENCY offered a combination of power delivery, agility, safety, fuel economy and environmental compatibility previously unknown in this class of vehicle.
For the new BlueEFFICIENCY models the Mercedes-Benz engineers harnessed potentials from all fields of development in order to reduce weight, aerodynamic drag and rolling resistance yet further and to organise on-board energy management even more efficiently. Together, these measures added up to a fuel saving on the NEDC driving cycle of 0.9 litres per 100 kilometres for the C 180 KOMPRESSOR, and 0.6 litres for the C 200 CDI. The specialists in Sindelfingen made very detailed improvements to the comprehensive lightweight construction concept of the C-Class, and managed to shave off between 19 and 32 kilograms of weight depending on the model. This achievement was in part due to a newly developed windscreen made of laminated glass, which weighed around 1.2 kilograms less than before. This was made possible by technology transfer from the Maybach luxury saloon.
In addition to lightweight construction measures, Mercedes-Benz also devoted particular attention to reducing rolling resistance and aerodynamic drag. In collaboration with Michelin, Mercedes-Benz engineers developed lightweight tyres with a particularly low rolling resistance. With a drag coefficient (Cd figure) of 0.27, the
C-Class was among the most aerodynamically efficient notchback saloons in its market segment. The Mercedes-Benz engineers further improved this excellent Cd figure with a whole series of intelligent details in the new BlueEFFICIENCY versions of the C 180 KOMPRESSOR and the C 200 CDI. These included a smooth underbody, to ensure that air flowed beneath the vehicle body without turbulence.
The C 350 CGI BlueEFFICIENCY, featuring the world’s first petrol engine with spray-guided direct injection, came onto the market in late 2008. It consumed around 10 percent less fuel than the C 350 with the conventional engine, while delivering more output and even better torque. The CGI engine developed 215 kW (292 hp) and gave maximum torque of 365 Newton metres at 3000 rpm. That meant 15 kW (20 hp) and 15 Newton metres more than the V6 engine with port injection. Thanks to state-of-the-art engine technology, fuel consumption for the C 350 CGI BlueEFFICIENCY dropped to around 8.4 litres per 100 kilometres in the European driving cycle – over one litre less than the figure for the C 350. Mercedes-Benz became the first car maker to put spray-guided direct petrol injection into series production in 2006. This technology was markedly superior to the direct injection system with wall-guided combustion used by other carmakers, since the Mercedes-Benz technology achieved far better fuel utilisation due to its higher thermodynamic efficiency, meaning both reduced fuel consumption and lower exhaust emissions.
Since early 2008 the C-Class from the 204 series has been global market leader in its segment. Since the official market launch on 31 March 2007 well over 300,000 customers have opted for a Saloon or Estate from the new series.
In autumn 2008 Mercedes-Benz then introduced an all-new diesel engine generation. As a premiere the Stuttgart automotive manufacturer offered a new four-cylinder unit in the C 250 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY Prime Edition. This engine developed 150 kW (204 hp) from a 2.2-litre displacement and torque of 500 Newton metres. A limited edition of 5,000 units, the C 250 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY Prime Edition followed the design of other BlueEFFICIENCY models in its use of fuel-saving detail solutions.
By November 2008 Mercedes-Benz had delivered around 500,000 new C-Class models worldwide since market launch –approx. 440,000 Saloons and 60,000 Estates. From March 2008 the C-Class Saloons were produced at Mercedes-Benz plants in Sindelfingen, Bremen, East London and in Beijing. The most popular engine for the new C-Class was the C 220 CDI, which was the choice of a third of all customers. Also popular was the C 200 KOMPRESSOR, which was ordered by 20 percent of all
C-Class Saloon customers.
Roughly a quarter of all C-Class vehicles were delivered to German customers, meaning the 204 series was also able to maintain market leadership for its class on the domestic market. The second most important market, with an approximately 20 percent share of worldwide sales, was the US, followed by the UK, Italy and South Africa. The clear visual differentiation of the three lines, CLASSIC, ELEGANCE and AVANTGARDE, proved to be very successful: half of all German customers opted for the AVANTGARDE line – and this share was even higher in several core markets.
At the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January 2011
Mercedes-Benz presented the completely revised C-Class from the 204 series. The
C-Class Coupé (C 204) followed at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2011.