In-depth reviews

Mercedes C-Class saloon - Engines, drive & performance

The Mercedes C-Class is good to drive, even if the 3 Series is a bit more focused

Carbuyer Rating

4.3 out of 5

Owners Rating

3.0 out of 5

Read owner reviews
Engines, drive & performance Rating

4.5 out of 5

The outgoing C-Class was good to drive but traded some of the focus of the BMW 3 Series for comfort and a more relaxed feel. The same is true for the latest model; on our first encounter with the C-Class, it felt more luxurious than the 3 Series or Audi A4 in Comfort mode. 

The good news for keen drivers is that in Sport mode, the C-Class also feels poised and has well-weighted steering with more feel than before. While a 3 Series still feels sportier, the C-Class is now closer than before.

Mercedes C-Class diesel engines

Both the C 220 d and C 300 d are expected to remain a key part of the C-Class range, based around the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine but tuned to produce 197bhp and 261bhp respectively. Both get rear-wheel drive and a nine-speed automatic gearbox as standard and take either 7.3 or 5.7 seconds to accelerate from 0-62mph.

On the road, the C 220 d feels smooth and has impressive pulling power from around 1,600rpm, easily pushing the car to motorway speeds or allowing you to pass slower traffic. There's little need to go beyond 3,000rpm and the nine-speed automatic does a good job of keeping the engine in its sweet spot. In its highest gear, the engine is only just above idle at 70mph, making it feel like a very effortless and refined way to travel long distances. 

Petrol engines

The entry-level C 180 and the C 200 both use a 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine, with 168bhp and 204bhp respectively. With rear-wheel drive and the same automatic gearbox as the diesels, these take 8.6 and 7.3 seconds to get from 0-62mph. The C 200 is also offered with four-wheel drive, knocking two tenths off the 0-62mph time. 

Higher up the range, there's the C 300 with a 2.0-litre petrol engine providing 255bhp and, again, with the option of rear or four-wheel drive. Both get to 62mph from rest in six seconds and on to a top speed of 155mph.

Hybrid engines

Badged C 300 e, the plug-in hybrid C-Class is based around a 198bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine that’s bolstered by a 126bhp electric motor, for a combined output of 304bhp. It can run in electric mode at speeds of up to 87mph and features a route-planning mode in the sat nav to tell the powertrain when best to use its stored electricity for optimum efficiency. 

The C 300 e will start and pull away electrically and silently when there’s charge in the battery, and even when it's empty, the Mercedes acts like a regular hybrid. Deceleration harnesses energy for the battery and the engine switches off any time the electric motor is sufficient on its own.

The feel from the brakes could be better, however, and the steering doesn't feel as precise as you'll find in the BMW 3 Series. This goes hand-in-hand with the fact the C 300 e never feels especially sporty, although it has an undeniable turn of speed in a straight line, getting from 0-62mph in 6.1 seconds. 

Next Steps

Which Is Best?

Cheapest

  • Name
    C200 Sport 4dr 9G-Tronic
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £37,780

Most Economical

  • Name
    C300e AMG Line 4dr 9G-Tronic
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £44,100

Fastest

  • Name
    C300d AMG Line 4dr 9G-Tronic
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £44,920

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