A few months after the market première of the 204 model series saloon, Mercedes-Benz presented the estates of the new C-Class at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt/Main (IAA). It was the third generation of this estates of the compact class from Mercedes-Benz. It combined typical qualities of the estates like safety, responsiveness and comfort with a significant increase in space and variability. A maximum 1500 litres cargo capacity made the new estate the premium wagon with the highest transport capacity in this market segment.
Internally designated as S 204, the wagon offered many useful details for convenient loading and safe transportation - for example, a liftgate that automatically opened and closed at the press of a button. Compared with the predecessor model, the new estates consumed up to twelve per cent less fuel. With a NEDC consumption rate of 6.0 litres, the C 200 CDI could travel over 1000 kilometres with a full tank (66 litres). Like the saloon, the estate of the new C-Class was awarded an environment certificate confirming the environmentally oriented development process according to the internationally valid ISO standard.
Concerning safety, the C-Class estate set standards with innovations like the PRE-SAFE® preventive occupant protection system and the Intelligent Light System, and distinguished itself as the safest car of this vehicle category. Seven airbags, emergency tensioning retractors and belt force limiters as well as crash-active NECK-PRO head restraints all belonged to the standard equipment.
The new estate adopted the customer-oriented concept of the design and equipment lines from the estates of the C-Class. The CLASSIC, ELEGANCE and AVANTGARDE models were available for selection, each accentuating comfort or responsiveness depending on the salient features. The AVANTGARDE line expressed its sporty & nimble character through the large Mercedes star centred in the radiator grille. This badge, so rich in tradition, of sporty Mercedes vehicles was being used for the first time in a estate by the Stuttgart car brand. With the three-dimensionally shaped, high-gloss louvre radiator grille, the ELEGANCE variant embodied attributes typical of the brand, like comfort and luxury. The CLASSIC line appeared conscientiously reserved and traditional.
The Mercedes-Benz designers and engineers of the new geared their work to their customers' expectations: Spaciousness and high variability as well as usability therefore had priority. Compared with its predecessor, the rear of the estate of the 204 model series was significantly steeper and thereby provided an important basis for a larger loading volume. It ranged from 485 to 1500 litres (VDA measuring method) depending on the position of the rear seat backrests split in the ratio of 1/3 : 2/3 and folding forwards. No other car offered as much space in the segment of the premium wagons of this vehicle category.
Compared with the predecessor, the loading capacity had increased by up to 146 litres, making the estate a practical car in every respect. For example, the S 204 had room for transporting four golf bags with trolleys, new large moving boxes or 44 crates with six one-litre bottles each. The cuboid dimension for the largest rectangularly shaped object increased by 66 to 827 litres compared with the predecessor and exceeded other premium wagons of this class by 50 to 100 litres. The maximum useful interior length measured 2.82 meters from the liftgate to the front passenger footwell - 17 centimetres more than previously.
A series of useful details made loading the new estate easier, more comfortable and safer. For example, the load compartment had two bag hooks and four eyelets for securing the cargo as standard equipment. Lateral stowage compartments with net covers and a fold-up shopping box were standard as were the twin roller blinds with load compartment cover and safety net. The new EASY-PACK liftgate opened and closed at the press of a button - a novelty in this vehicle category. And with the (optional) EASY-PACK Fix Kit the C-Class drivers had even more ways to partition the nearly 1.80 meter long and up to 1.20 meter wide load compartment and to secure the cargo.
The new estate of the C-Class proved its great suitability as a towing vehicle with the highest towing capacity in this vehicle category, up to 1,800 kilogrammes. Optional level control kept the vehicle level constant in each load condition.
Aspects of environmental protection played an important role in the development of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class from the outset. Thanks to its new or further-developed engines offering more power and a higher torque, the estate of the C-Class consumed up to twelve per cent less fuel than its predecessor. The development work focussed on the four-cylinder engines: in the models with C 180 KOMPRESSOR and C 200 KOMPRESSOR spark ignition engines, Mercedes-Benz achieved a power increase of 10 kW (13 hp) and 15 kW (20 hp), respectively, by means of a modified engine control system, a more dynamic charger and improved pistons. At the same time, fuel consumption dropped by up to 10.3 per cent to 7.7 litres and 7.8 litres per 100 kilometres, respectively.
For the four-cylinder diesel engines Mercedes-Benz had further developed altogether more than 90 components, besides the injection system, the turbocharger and the charge air cooling. The result was engines with more output and a higher torque with around twelve per cent less fuel consumption. The new C 220 CDI now had 125 kW (170 hp) instead of 110 kW (150 hp) as previously and from 2000 rpm unfolded a maximum torque of 400 newton meters (previously: 340 newton meters). The fuel consumption in the NEDC was only 6.1 litres of diesel oil per 100 kilometres (previously: 6.9 litres per 100 kilometres).
The new C 200 CDI had eleven per cent more power (100 kW/136 hp instead of the previous 90 kW/122 hp) and consumed 6.0 litres of diesel fuel per 100 kilometres (previously: 6.8 litres). Three models with six-cylinder spark ignition engines were available for selection at the market launch of the estate of the C-Class: The C 230 with 150 kW (204 hp), the C 280 with 170 kW (231 hp) and of the C 350 with 200 kW (272 hp power). They were joined by the new diesel six cylinder C 320 CDI with 165 kW (224 hp). All models except the C 350 had a six-speed manual transmission as standard. On the other hand, the C 350 was factory-equipped with the seven-speed 7G-TRONIC automatic transmission.
The unique synthesis of responsiveness and comfort, which were among the outstanding qualities of the new C-Class, were generally based on the standard AGILITY-CONTROL package. It contained shock absorbers that automatically adapted to the driving situation for noticeably better driving comfort in normal travel. In a dynamic driving style, on the other hand, the maximum damping force was applied, and the estate was effectively stabilised. The steering directer by six per cent and a six-speed transmission with short shift travel were further contents of the AGILITY-CONTROL package.
The optional vehicle dynamics package advanced the new estate of the C-Class into the realm of a pedigree sports car regarding responsiveness. The driver can choose between the two transmission modes Comfort and Sport and thereby predetermine the general suspension characteristics. Within these programmes the shock absorbers for each wheel were electronically and continuously varied. The body was also set lower by 15 millimetres, and the suspension was equipped with shorter springs and stronger torsion bars. The new, directly translated speed-sensitive power steering with variable hub centring also belonged to the vehicle dynamics package.
In combination with the AMG sport package, the new estate received a sports suspension with shorter springs and firmer shock absorbers, in addition to 17-inch light-alloy wheels. The body was also lowered by 15 millimetres.
The new estate of the C-Class had completed an elaborate testing programme with altogether more than 100 crash tests and thereby demonstrated the safety level typical of Mercedes-Benz. An intelligently designed body consisting 70 per cent of high-strength and ultra-high strength steel grades formed the basis of the occupant protection system. In the front structure four mutually independent impact planes ensured that impact forces would be conducted through large areas past the passenger cell. Altogether seven standard airbags protected the occupants. For the driver, front passenger and rear passengers on the outer seats emergency tensioning retractors and belt force limiters were available; the front NECK-PRO head restraints operated crash-actively and duly caught the driver's and front passenger's heads in a rear-end collision to prevent whiplash injuries.
The tried and proven concept of integrated child seats folding out of the rear bench seat at the press of a button had been further developed by Mercedes-Benz for the estate of the 204 model series. The seats were now equipped with side head restraints.
Standard equipment like flashing brake lamps, the Brake Assist and the ESP® Electronic Stability Program made important contributions to accident prevention. ESP® contained additional functions for not only monitoring the tyre inflation pressure, but also for affording greater safety when towing a trailer, thanks to automatic vehicle/trailer stabilisation.
The PRE-SAFE® preventive occupant protection system also placed the new estate ahead of other cars of its vehicle category. The optional system employed the time preceding a threatening accident to prepare occupant and the car for the collision. The stress on the passengers due to an impact could then be significantly reduced.
The Intelligent Light System was a technical innovations adopted by the estate of the C-Class from the Mercedes-Benz luxury models and offered by no other car in this market segment at the launching of the new model. The five different light functions of the system were geared to typical driving and weather situations.
In the interior, the elegantly styled instrument panel, high-quality materials and pleasant colour combinations created a homely ambiance. For the first time, the load compartment was also integrated in the colour concept. In the CLASSIC and ELEGANCE models both the carpeting and the side trim appeared in the equipment colours selected by the customer. In the AVANTGARDE line the rear area also had black carpeting. Newly developed seats, with the optional multi-contour feature, and a heavy-duty air conditioning system contributed to the high long-distance comfort of the estate.
As the first car of this vehicle category, the new estate came with optional, individually adjustable three-zone climate control. For the first time, the large panoramic sliding sunroof was also optionally available for a estate.
The colour display in the middle of the instrument panel was coupled with the controller on the tunnel panelling. Here the driver could operate the audio system, navigation or telephone. A clearly arranged menu control facilitated access to these and other functions. As an alternative, one-touch keys were available in the centre console The press of a button sufficed to turn on the car radio, CD/DVD player, navigation or telephone. The further operating steps occurred by means of the controller and colour display in the instrument panel.
For the infotainment Mercedes-Benz had developed three new devices: Audio 20, Audio 50 APS and COMAND APS all had a keyboard for entering telephone numbers and radio frequencies, as well as a Bluetooth interface wirelessly connecting the mobile phone to the hands-free system. Audio 50 APS included European-wide DVD navigation with arrow displays for the route guidance. In the COMAND APS multimedia system a hard disc (30 GB) stored the navigation data. On the swivelling colour display in the instrument panel appeared a high-definition map display allowing different perspectives. Besides the DVD player, COMAND APS also included a music server for up to 1000 songs.
The LINGUATRONIC voice control was standard equipment if the estate of the C-Class came with Audio 50 APS and 6x DVD changer or with COMAND APS. For the first time, the new system supported whole-word entries for the destination input, selection of radio stations or retrieval of names from the phonebook. The driver no longer had to spell out commands, but could say the names of countries, cities and streets, for example, as whole expressions.
Following the public première at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt/Main (IAA), drivers could order the new estate of the C-Class in September 2007 from the company-owned sales and service outlets and sales partners of Mercedes-Benz. Series production of the S 204 had begun in mid-September in Bremen. The last estate of the 203 model series left the assembly line here in May 2007. Afterwards Mercedes-Benz prepared the location for production of the successor. The S 204 was manufactured exclusively in Bremen, while the saloons of the new C-Class were built simultaneously in Sindelfingen, Bremen, East London and Beijing.
In early 2008 Mercedes-Benz launched the C 63 AMG as a new top-of-the-line C-Class estate. Under the bonnet with the striking power domes the AMG 6.3-litre V8 engine provided confident traction. With a maximum output of 336 kW (457 hp) at 6800 rpm and a maximum torque of 600 newton meters at 5000 rpm, the high-rev naturally aspirated engine offered unrivalled values in this segment. Motorised in this way, the unique high-performance estate accelerated from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.6 seconds; the maximum speed was 250 km/h (electronically governed).
Power was transmitted by the AMG SPEEDSHIFT PLUS 7G-TRONIC. Equipped with AMG steering wheel shift paddles and the three transmission modes 'C', 'S' and 'M', the seven-speed automatic allowed a distinct sporty or rather comfort-oriented driving style, depending on the driver's taste. Fully new was the automatic double clutching function during downshifting. Combined with the totally new front axle, the AMG sport speed-sensitive power steering and the new 3-stage ESP®, the AMG sports suspension afforded the utmost driving pleasure and distinct vehicle dynamics. Perfect deceleration even with distinctly dynamic driving was guaranteed by the AMG heavy-duty brake system with large-sized brake discs internally vented and perforated all around. The standard equipment included 18-inch AMG light alloy wheels in the five-spoke design with wide-base tyres of size 235/40 R 18 (front) and 255/35 R 18 (rear). 19-inch AMG light alloy wheels in the multi-spoke design were also optionally available with tyres of size 235/35 R 19 (front) and 255/30 R 19 (rear).
The design and equipment of the new C 63 AMG estate fully embodied sophisticated technology. The AMG eight cylinder top model differed from the standard C-Class more clearly than ever before: In addition to the AMG styling, accents were set by the bonnet with two power domes, the independent AMG radiator grille, the exposed front wings, the AMG rear apron with black diffusor insert and the AMG sport exhaust system with two chrome-plated dual tailpipes.
The interior was dominated by the independent AMG sport seats with integrated head restraints, the AMG Performance steering wheel with three-spoke design and flattened at the bottom, 365 millimetre steering wheel rim and the AMG instrument cluster with a tubular design and AMG main menu. As an alternative to the standard aluminium trim, AMG carbon trim was also optionally available for the C 63 AMG estate.
Like the saloon, the new estate of the C-Class was awarded an environment certificate in 2007. The Certification Centre of TÜV Süd Management Service GmbH thereby confirmed that the estate had been developed environmentally safely in all aspects as per the requirements of ISO standard 14062. Mercedes-Benz was worldwide the only automotive brand to possess this exacting environmental certificate. The inspection also included the environmentally related product information on the new estate of the C-Class, whose complete environmental balance sheet underlay the environmental certificate. Considered were nearly 40,000 individual processes over the entire life cycle of the estate, from the manufacture of materials and components through their use over travelled distances of 200,000 kilometres to used car disposal.
With the C 200 KOMPRESSOR and the C 200 CDI as examples, the energy requirement and emissions were computed, among other items. Both engine variants of the new estate achieved significantly better values in these disciplines than their predecessors presented in 2001. The entire energy requirement for production, utilisation and recycling of the C 200 KOMPRESSOR estate had decreased by 17.7 per cent in comparison. That corresponded to the energy content of about 4900 litres of petrol.
The estate of the 204 model series also set aesthetic standards: At the end of 2007, readers of AUTO BILD, the largest German automotive magazine, elected the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class as the most beautiful car among all saloons and estates that had been launched on the market in the past twelve months.
The estate made its début in the Asian market in October 2007, at the 40th Tokyo Motor Show. The market launch in Japan followed in early 2008. In Tokyo Mercedes-Benz illustrated the role of the BlueTEC HYBRID process for the cleanest and most efficient premium cars in the case of the C 300 BLUETEC HYBRID near-production-standard study vehicle based on the new C-Class estate. In combination, the four-cylinder engine and the hybrid module outputted 165 kW (224 hp) and developed a maximum torque of 560 newton meters, comparable to the value of a large-displacement V8 petrol engine. The C 300 BLUETEC HYBRID made do with a fuel consumption level of only 4.6 litres of diesel oil per 100 kilometres.
At the Geneva Automobile Salon in March 2008 Mercedes-Benz presented the especially economical BlueEFFICIENCY technology for the C-Class. The C 180 KOMPRESSOR model was then available as the estate. With its 115 kW (156 hp) engine, the estate could travel 100 kilometres with just 6.5 litres of premium petrol. That corresponded to 156 grammes of carbon dioxide emissions per kilometre. The other BlueEFFICIENCY versions remained reserved for the saloon.
From the time of the market launch of the new C-Class of the 204 model series in March 2007 through November 2008, Mercedes-Benz had already delivered 500,000 vehicles to customers worldwide. The new estate, available since autumn 2007, exhibited high growth in unit sales since its market launch. Altogether Mercedes-sold over 60,000 estates through this period. Nearly half of all customers chose the C 220 CDI as the engine version for their C-Class estate.
The C-Class of the 204 model series was especially popular with German customers Nearly a fourth of unit sales went to them. Very successful proved to be the clear visual differentiation between the CLASSIC, AVANTGARDE and ELEGANCE equipment lines: every second customer in Germany decided in favour of the AVANTGARDE line, with the share being even significantly higher in some core markets.