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Mercedes C-Class engines, driving and performance

How does the Mercedes C-Class drive?

Provided you're not looking for a sports car, you'll find little wrong with the way the C-Class drives. Like most direct rivals, it strikes a mature balance between sporty handling and comfort, with just a fractionally softer edge than the 3 Series.

The steering is quick and direct, and the chassis feels willing to tuck into corners without the weight rolling over the outside wheels. Despite this, the car's slightly floaty setup encourages you to drive in a calmer manner, with the soft suspension and accurate controls reducing overall driver fatigue.

You couldn't call the C-Class 'fun', however, as it lacks that last degree of driver engagement that defines the best sports saloons. However, that long-hailed 'ultimate driving machine' itself, the BMW 3 Series, isn't really all that entertaining to drive anymore with a greater focus on composure and comfort, so you're not missing out on much by choosing the more forgiving Mercedes.

Is the Mercedes C-Class comfortable?

If a car isn't sporty, it should at least be comfortable, and the C-Class mostly achieves this. We've only tried versions with the standard spring setup rather than the adaptive suspension found on rapid C43 AMG models, but we see little reason to upgrade. There's good compliance over big bumps and small imperfections are very well tuned out, making long drives mostly effortless.

Noise on the move is very well suppressed, with only the slightest amount of tyre roar and wind whistle. Ambient sounds from traffic around you are also well damped, making the C-Class feel serene while shuffling through traffic. Entry-level C200 petrol models are mostly powerful enough to avoid the top end of the rev range, but very hard acceleration will see the tachometer spin up with an accompanying racket from under the bonnet.

What’s the best Mercedes C-Class engine to get?

We test drove the entry-level C200 petrol. This 1.5-litre turbo unit makes 204hp – a healthy figure that means the car never feels underpowered. Flooring it on a motorway slip road will cause the nine-speed auto to hunt around for a lower gear, followed by a bit of a din as the petrol spins up to near its redline, but does at least reward you with fairly zippy acceleration.

More powerful petrols are available but, considering the reasonably strong engine power and relative affordability of the C200, we think most buyers will be happy with this engine. Long-distance drivers might appreciate the extra range they get from the two diesel options, while buyers with predictable commutes might benefit from the plug-in-hybrid C300e's 60-mile electric range.

There are also the ultra-rapid but pricey AMG cars – the hot C43 AMG or the insane C63S AMG. These possess supercar-beating performance as well as the usual C-Class qualities but, having ditched the dramatic, thunderous V8 found in their predecessors, we're not sure they're they high-class hot rods they used to be.

Mercedes C-Class performance

All engines are powerful enough with even the slowest petrol and diesel models – the C200 and C220d respectively – completing the benchmark 0-62mph sprint in 7.3 seconds.

You'll shave a little over a second off that figure with either the C300 petrol or C300e plug-in hybrid, and they feel quite a bit stronger under full throttle. Meanwhile the top C300d diesel completes the 0-62mph dash in a hot-hatch-baiting 5.7 seconds.

From there, you're looking at the 408hp C43 AMG or the frankly bonkers C63S AMG with 671hp. Both have enough grunt to embarrass some serious supercars on the right roads.

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