New 2021 Mercedes C-Class saloon spied at the Nurburgring

Merc's new 3 Series fighter warming up for 2021 introduction, but looks set to be evolutionary

The next-generation Mercedes C-Class saloon has been caught on camera again, this time in the hands of Merc engineers putting the brand’s next BMW 3 Series rival through perfomance and handling assesments.

While the brand has pushed hard into the SUV market in recent times with a glut of new models – the most recent the all-new GLB – the new C-Class will join a growing saloon presence in the Merc line-up when it arrives. In the past few months we’ve seen a new saloon version of the A-Class emerge, alongside an all-new CLA.

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While the testing mule is currently clothed in camouflage cladding, the overall shape suggests a fairly subtle design evolution from the current C-Class. The brand’s recent trend is towards cleaner overall shapes, so we can expect fewer character lines and creases across the car’s flanks.

Both the window line and tailgate are set to take a similar form in order to maintain family ties with the outgoing model. A lower, more prominent grille will sit between headlights that are likely to move to full LED tech, and will take on a slimmer shape than those of the existing W205.

Under the skin, the new C-Class is set to ride on an updated version of the current car’s Modular Rear-wheel drive Architecture (MRA) system. Despite the name, there will be four-wheel drive variants, which could see the next hot AMG model distribute its power to all four wheels. It’ll still be powered by a 4.0-litre V8 twin-turbo engine, but the extra traction off the line should improve the 0-62mph time.

Sitting below that model should be the AMG 53 – an Audi S4 rival powered by a straight-six petrol with 48-volt mild hybrid assistance. That’ll be one of several versions of the new C-Class with varying levels of electrical propulsion.

Expect a mild hybrid set-up to assist some of the more modestly-powered four and six-cylinder petrol and diesel units, and a plug-in option with a 30 mile-plus battery-powered range. A fully-electric saloon won’t sit within the C-Class line-up, but as a standalone model in the EQ family of models.

While the outside will stay largely similar to its predecessor, the cabin will be set for a complete redesign. The new look will be focused around a new infotainment system as, like the latest A-Class and GLE, the C-Class will feature the latest twin-screen MBUX infotainment setup. This will bring features like customisable digital dials, conversational voice controls through the ‘Hey Mercedes’ interface, and augmented navigation directions.

Click here to read our in-depth review of the current Mercedes C-Class…