Next Mercedes C-Class to get hybrid
Zetsche admitted that Mercedes had 'fallen behind in terms of CO2 output, sometime back around 2006, but this phase is behind us and there are quite a lot of areas where we are now setting the benchmark [for efficiency]. The new C-Class will take the lead in this respect, too.'
He wouldn’t elaborate on the details of the hybrid engine, but it’s likely to be a development of the 2.1-litre diesel-electric hybrid that currently produces 201bhp and 109g/km in the bigger E-Class.
The combustion engine line-up is likely to include units produced from the company’s tie-up with Renault, but Zetsche said that all engines would be 'specifically developed by Mercedes'.
New gearboxes will also be critical to efficiency gains in the new C-Class, with an eight-speed automatic likely to become a key feature.
Despite Mercedes’ ambition to save weight on its new cars, the new C-Class will not use light but expensive alloy body panels – as seen in the Mercedes SL and Jaguar products. Zetsche maintains that: 'For the volume vehicles, intelligent use of steel makes more sense.'
The new Mercedes C-Class will be unveiled at the Geneva motor show in 2014.
By Vicky Parrott