The Mercedes-Benz C-Class at present offers 4-, 6- and even 8-cylinder engines but this won't be the case for the next-generation model due for a reveal on February 23 and on sale later this year as a 2022 model.

As first reported by Car and Driver last week, the next C-Class will come exclusively with 4-cylinder engines. This will also extend to the future performance variants from Mercedes-Benz AMG.

Why such a radical decision? Speaking with Germany's Automobilwoche (subscription required) in an interview published last week, the car's chief engineer, Christian Frueh, said a V-8 was ruled out primarily for emissions while an inline-6 was ruled out for packaging. It seems that adding an inline-6 would have required the front end of the vehicle to be stretched by about two inches. Bigger, heavier engines would have also added too much load on the front axle, negatively impacting the driving dynamics.

To make up for the performance deficit caused by downsizing, Mercedes, as well as the AMG performance skunkworks, will rely on electrification. In most cases the electrification should come in the form of a mild-hybrid system. It should be somewhat similar to what we've seen in some existing Mercedes mild-hybrids—essentially an electric motor-generator that replaces the starter motor and alternator typically found on internal-combustion cars. The setup is designed to provide a boost during high loads and recover energy during braking and coasting.

In the next C63, the setup is expected to match the 503 hp of the current C63 S while peak torque could even exceed the current car's 516 lb-ft.

2023 Mercedes-Benz AMG C63 spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

2023 Mercedes-Benz AMG C63 spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

2023 Mercedes-Benz AMG C63 spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

2023 Mercedes-Benz AMG C63 spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien

Plug-in hybrid powertrains are also planned, though likely for non-AMG models only.

We've also heard that the rear-axle steering system that debuted in the redesigned 2021 S-Class will be available on the next C-Class. The system helps with maneuverability at low speeds and stability at high speeds.

The C-Class family in the U.S. is expected to start with a C300, followed by two AMG versions (a C43 replacement and C63) and possibly a plug-in hybrid. No wagon body style is planned for our market, but redesigned versions of the current C-Class Coupe and C-Class Cabriolet should arrive eventually.

In his interview with Automobilwoche, Frueh also confirmed that a C-Class All-Terrain soft-roader wagon is coming, and this model could potentially end up here as a little brother to the E-Class All-Terrain.

He also said not to expect a battery-electric C-Class, at least with the coming generation of the small sedan. That's because the engineers wouldn't have been able to fit the necessary batteries without compromising the rear axle's design and balance of the car.