Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
While all engines in the Mercedes C-Class range feature electric assistance for extra shove at low engine speeds, you have to work the entry-level 201bhp C200 petrol quite hard to get it from 0-62mph in 7.3sec.
For a bit more low-end urgency, you’re better off with the diesel C220d. Its 197bhp is slightly down on the C200, but because of its extra pull at low revs, it manages to get from 0-62mph in the same time. Even so, it's still not as quick as the 320d BMW 3 Series. To beat that, you’ll need the fastest diesel C-Class, the 262bhp C300d (0-62mph in 5.7sec).
To avoid that (as the 3 Series and Jaguar XE so adeptly do), you’ll need to put the suspension in Sport mode. That tightens body control appreciably without the C-Class losing its ability to round off harsher humps and holes. Sport+ is a bit too firm for pockmarked B-roads and is best left for super-smooth surfaces.
The plug-in hybrid C300e gets rear air suspension as standard. It’s there to help control the extra weight of the battery pack in the back, and does a very good job of keeping the car level over dips and crests at speed, while also cushioning you from nobbly bits of Tarmac.