Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
With 120kg of extra strengthening to compensate for the missing roof, it’s fair to say – and hardly surprising – that the C-Class Cabriolet isn’t as light on its toes as the C-Class Coupé. However, the differences are smaller than you might think.
The entry-level diesel, the C220d, feels reasonably brisk, although for not much more you could go for the more powerful C300d, which is that bit quicker. Although these engines are hushed at a cruise, they do generate more racket than equivalent diesels in the Audi A5 Cabriolet.
Even so, we’d still choose a diesel C-Class Cabriolet over the four-cylinder C200 and C300 petrols; these don’t really feel that much quicker or smoother to justify their extra thirstiness. There’s an entry-level C180 as well, but we suspect this will feel rather sluggish.
However, the six-cylinder AMG C43 is a different ball game; its sports exhaust emits a pleasantly fruity noise and, with 385bhp, it feels properly rapid. But, thanks to standard four-wheel drive, it isn't at all lairy, even in slippery conditions.
Which isn’t a statement you’d necessarily apply to the wonderfully exciting AMG C63 models. Whether you choose the 469bhp standard version or the 503bhp S model, these twin-turbocharged V8 monsters are hugely fast but, with rear-wheel drive, a tad wayward, too. They're awesome fun, though, so if you’re interested in the AMG versions, head to our separate review by clicking here.
In the bends, the regular cars (in AMG Line trim) grip well but aren’t particularly exciting. Granted, through fast corners, even these suffer from some body lean, but once settled into a corner they feel planted and stable. The C43 is better, but still doesn’t feel that thrilling in the bends. That said, the heavy BMW 4 Series Convertible offers no greater sense of fun.
The two C63 models come with adjustable suspension as standard, resulting in rather more pin-sharp handling. They also have reworked steering that offers much better weighting and consistency than the standard cars.
And what of ride comfort? Well, at speed over undulations, the suspension deals pretty ably with surface imperfections. On really scarred roads, you feel some thumping through your seat, so it's worth adding the reasonably priced adjustable air suspension that mostly helps to smooth that out.
There is a little bit of scuttle shake – that shuddering sensation through the body that often affects convertibles – but it’s no worse than in rivals. There is a manual option on the C180, but we have yet to try it. Most models instead come with a smooth-shifting nine-speed automatic that’s even better than Audi’s dual-clutch versions. Just don’t expect snappy responses to manual inputs from the gearshift paddles.
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