The Mercedes-Benz C-Class is a line of compact executive cars produced by Daimler AG. Introduced in 1993 as a replacement for the 190 (W201) range, the C-Class was the smallest model in the marque's line-up until the A-Class arrived in 1997. The C-Class is built at Mercedes-Benz factories in Sindelfingen and Bremen, Germany as well as numerous satellite factories in other countries. The first C-Class (W202) sedan was produced on 1 June 1993, and the first of the second generation (W203) rolled off the assembly line on 18 July 2000. The C-Class has been available with a 4Matic (i.e. four-wheel drive) option since 2002. The third generation (W204) was launched in 2007. The latest generation C-Class (W205) came out in 2014.
Though originally available as a sedan and a station wagon, the W203 series in 2000 debuted a fastback coupé (SportCoupé) version that, when facelifted, became the Mercedes-Benz CLC-Class. The CLC-Class remained in production until 2011 when it was replaced by a new W204 C-Class coupé for the 2012 model year.
In October 1986, three years into Mercedes-Benz W201 (190)'s production run, work began on a successor. Design work began in 1987, with the final design by Murat Günak being selected in 1989 and the production design by Olivier Boulay delayed in January 1990, finally being patented on 19 December 1990. Rough prototypes went into testing in 1989, with first production design prototypes commencing testing in 1990. In May 1993, the first generation W202 C-Class was introduced as a replacement for the 190. The C-Class sedan was the company's entry-level model up until 1997, when Mercedes launched the A-Class. Styling themes were carried over from the previous W201 series, but the new series had a smoother and rounder design than the previous generation of compact Mercedes, with styling cues from the W124 E-Class (short, high trunk and taller tail lights), W140 S-Class (front end), and R129 SL-Class (headlights).
During the 1996 and 1997 Formula 1 seasons, the C36 AMG served as the sport's Safety Car.
In 1994, development began on the W203 C-Class. Design work commenced in mid-1994, with the final design being approved in December 1995 by the executive board. Design patents were filed on 20 April 1998 and 4 March 1999. Testing began in 1997, with development concluding in 2000. The second generation C-Class was introduced in March 2000. The sedan debuted with a range of inline-four and V6 petrol engines and inline-four and -five diesels, later W203's received the V6 diesel. Most of the engines were carried over from the W202, but the C320 was exclusive, offering 160 kW (215 hp; 218 PS). The diesels now featured common rail direct fuel injection and variable geometry turbochargers. A six-speed manual gearbox was optional on some of the range, With exception to the C320 and C32 AMG. Notably (post 2005), for the first time, the number designations were no longer equivalent to the engine displacement, more specifically in the C 200 (1.8-litre), C240 (2.6-litre) and C200 CDI (2.2-litre).
DaimlerChrysler introduced the W204 C-Class on 18 January 2007 and displayed it in the 2007 Geneva Auto Show. Sales started on 31 March 2007 in almost all European countries. The new family had an extended wheelbase and tracks, a stiffer bodyshell and a design inspired by the W221 S-Class with some influences from the C219 CLS-Class. The C-Class received a facelift in 2011 for the 2012 model year including new LED taillights, a revised dashboard and instrument cluster layout, and a revised front fascia and headlights.
The current generation W205 C-class was launched at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show. It is the first car to use the all-new Modular Rear Architecture (MRA) platform. The new structure is significantly lighter using aluminium and high strength steel extensively throughout the body, resulting in a 100-kilogram (220 lb) weight decrease.
The car was officially unveiled on 16 December 2013. W205 production commenced on 4 February 2014 at the Bremen plant. Production also occurs at Mercedes-Benz plants in East London, South Africa, and Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA. European sales began in March 2014, while the vehicle went on sale in North America in September 2014.
The Mercedes-Benz C-Class 205 chassis spawned four C-Class bodystyles; Sedan (W205), Wagon (S205), Coupe (C205), and Cabriolet (A205).
On 10 December 2009, Daimler announced the production of the C-Class will be concentrated at the Bremen plant with additional production in the United States for the domestic market.