2020 Mercedes C-Class executive saloon: what we know so far

For its next generation, the Mercedes C-Class executive saloon will receive new plug-in hybrid options and advanced self-driving tech – here's everything you need to know...

Mercedes C-Class Reader Award

On sale: Late 2020 | Price from: £32,000 (est)

Not so long ago, if you wanted a prestige executive saloon you really only had three choices: the Audi A4, BMWs 3 Series or Mercedes C-Class

Now, though, things aren't so clear cut; there's the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Jaguar XE to consider, too, as well as Volkswagen's plush Arteon and smaller models such as Mercedes' own A-Class Saloon and CLA.

Standing out has never been tougher, then, but Mercedes is currently readying an all-new C-Class which is designed to do just that.

The new Mercedes C-Class is one of 12 cars nominated for the 2020 What Car? Reader Award. To see all of the contenders and have your say on which is most exciting, just head over to the voting site.

2021 Mercedes C-Class rear spy shot

2021 Mercedes C-Class engines and technology

The new C-Class will be the first Mercedes to use new underpinnings designed to support a 48V electrical system, allowing for multiple hybrid variants.

These include a plug-in hybrid with a zero-emission range of around 30 miles, which will be available from launch, while versions that can travel farther on electric power are planned for later.

If all of that sounds a bit too eco-friendly for you, then you'll be pleased to know that successors to today's C43 and C63 performance models are also planned, with the latter getting a 550bhp 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine.

2021 Mercedes C-Class prototype front

We also understand that adaptive suspension will be standard even on lesser variants in an effort to set a new standard for ride comfort, while air suspension will continue to be offered as an option.

There will even be technology that's due to make its debut on the next-generation S-Class luxury saloons luxury saloon (arriving in 2020), including a semi-autonomous system which will allow you to drive with your hands off the steering wheel (where legal) at speeds of up to 80mph for extended distances.

The advanced radar and mapping systems necessary to support this will allow the C-Class to hunt for a parking space and enter it autonomously through a smartphone app – useful in a tight multi-storey car park, for example.

Mercedes Concept EQ interior

2021 Mercedes C-Class interior, models and pricing

Inside, the C-Class will take inspiration from 2017's Concept EQ, including large digital displays, almost no buttons and touch-sensitive areas on the dashboard. A slimmer centre console will also be included to improve interior space.

As well as the saloon, estate and cabriolet models, the new C-Class will be available as a high-riding 'All Terrain' estate, in a similar vein to the larger E-Class All Terrain. This new model will rival the Audi A4 Allroad, and will feature more rugged styling than regular C-Class Estate models, as well as a raised ride height and off-road driving modes.

Despite it's new technology, we don't expect prices for the new C-Class to increase dramatically, with entry-level models likely to cost from around £33,000. As an example of what discounts could eventually save you, however, What Car?'s New Car Buying service can net you at least £3000 off the current C-Class.

For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here

The best and worst executive saloons

As we mentioned at the start of this article, executive car buyers are now spoilt for choice, so here are the current top 10 – and the models that are best avoided:

10. Jaguar XE

Jaguar XE Executive class

Taking on the big German brands in the executive car market is a big task, but Jaguar has made a good go of it with its junior saloon, the XE. It's offered with a strong range of engines and rewards keen drivers with excellent steering and sharp handling. It's let down a little when it comes to interior quality, but the biggest problem is its cramped rear seats.

Our pick: 2.0d 180 Prestige

Read our full Jaguar XE review or find a great deal on an XE

9. Mercedes C-Class

Mercedes C-Class Executive class

The C-Class is one of the three main choices when it comes to executive cars, the other two being the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series – both of which feature further up this list. The C-Class does a lot well, too: it has a superb interior, most engines emit little CO2 and you get plenty of toys as standard. The entry-level C220d diesel makes the most financial sense and pulls strongly from low revs.

Our pick: C220d SE

Read our full Mercedes C-Class review or find a great deal on a C-Class

8. Volkswagen Arteon

Volkswagen Arteon executive class

The Arteon is a very stylish choice, mixing the practicality of an executive saloon with the svelte looks of a coupé. We like its strong range of engines, of which the entry-level 2.0-litre diesel is our recommended choice, as well as its huge boot and generous standard kit.

Our pick: 2.0 190 TDI Elegance

Read our full Volkswagen Arteon review or find a great deal on an Arteon