Mercedes C-Class Coupe review - Engines, performance and drive

Standard Coupe gets average petrol and diesel engines, while range-topping AMG versions get improved handling and more power

From behind the wheel, the Mercedes isn’t quite as sharp as an Audi A5 Coupe, but the rear-drive chassis offers more balance. It’s just a shame that the rest of the driving experience doesn’t live up to the looks; in Sport or Sport+ driving modes, the C-Class’s steering feels heavy and lifeless. While there isn’t much feedback relayed through the Audi’s wheel, its lighter steering weight and immediacy makes it feel more transparent. 

The C-Class doesn’t have the ultimate grip of the A5, but there’s more than enough. It’s also better mixed with the Mercedes’ more forgiving ride, especially with air-suspension, which makes it easier to live with.

Even after only a few miles in the driver’s seat, it’s clear the C-Class Coupé isn’t as sporty or precise as an A5. Instead, the focus is definitely on comfort, as the Mercedes rides nicely. Engineers have scaled down what makes the S-Class flagship so comfortable, but while it’s cosseting most of the time, the C-Class isn’t perfect. Even with the £895 Airmatic dynamic handling package, featuring air-suspension, the set-up still transmits some harsher knocks through to the cabin.

This is only under more extreme conditions on broken roads, as the Mercedes still floats over most surfaces with a more settled gait than the Audi. If you’re after the perfect ride, choosing the Airmatic package with the smaller 17-inch wheels offered as standard on the Sport model is the best option.

Standard non-AMG cars come with rear-wheel drive to give the best balance of handling, however Mercedes does offer 4MATIC all-wheel drive for just an extra £1,500 on the C 200 petrol and both diesels. It’s a clever system that can split the engine’s power 50:50 to the front and rear axles in really difficult conditions, or send 100 per cent of the power to the rear wheels. The system constantly monitors road conditions, meaning 4MATIC is a good choice for those who like the reassurance of year-round grip.

Mercedes have long carved out a reputation for producing good automatics and the nine-speed version (in the diesels) is good, slipping through years easily while the seven-speed version in the Mercedes-AMG C 63 and C 63 S is similarly impressive. However, the six-speed manual is a little notchy and not as accomplished as the gearbox used in the BMW 4 Series Coupe – even though the manual box in the BMW has a slightly rubbery feel. In fact, the BMW is the more fun and involving coupe compared to the C-Class and could be considered to be more of the ‘driver’s car’. That’s not to say the C-Class Coupe is lacking – it’s noticeably more fun to drive than the Lexus RC, for instance.  


The C-Class Coupe has quite a simple line-up of engines. For petrol customers there’s a 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit with two power outputs – 181bhp in the C 200 or 242bhp in the C 300. While for diesel there’s a 2.1-litre engine also with two power outputs – 168bhp in the C 220d and 201bhp in the C 250d

The 2.0-litre petrol is a little flat for a sports coupe. We’ve tried the C 300 and on paper, it looks good: 0-62mph takes a very respectable six seconds, with top speed limited to 155mph. However, it doesn’t make a particularly pleasant noise, emitting a drone rather than a tuneful roar. Push the throttle harder and the noise turns harsh – made all the worse by sports exhaust. Progress is not as smooth as you’d expect, either, with power delivery suffering from a little turbo lag at lower revs.

Happily the 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 is much better. It’s a brand new engine and just like most V6s, it’s smooth whilst delivering great performance coupled with a great soundtrack. It packs considerably more punch than the equivalent BMW 440i Coupe, but unfortunately the engine is only limited to the Mercedes-AMG C 43 – a half way house between the C 300 and the full-fat Mercedes-AMG C 63. 

Diesel versions of the C-Class will appeal to those considering running one as a company car. The diesel is a 2.1-litre unit but with two power outputs – 168bhp in the C 220d and 201bhp in the C 250d. While the 2.0-litre petrol is just a little unexciting, the old 2.1-litre diesel is noisy. The new Mercedes E-Class gets an all-new 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel which is far better than this ageing unit which isn’t particularly smooth or quiet. We’ve only driven the higher-powered C 250d and felt it’s a little strained at high revs and coarse on tickover, but it does offer decent punch – 201bhp and 500Nm of torque translates into a 0-62mph time of 6.7 seconds. 

In-gear performance is also impressive, thanks to the shorter ratios of the nine-speed gearbox and the extra punch from its engine when compared to the Audi A5 Coupe’s 2.0 TDI; the C-Class delivers its maximum torque low down from just 1,600rpm, so there’s not much lag to contend with.

Right at the top of the pile are the C 63 and C 63 S. Powered by Mercedes-AMG’s new 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8, it’s a fabulous engine – punchy, torquey with a great spread of abilities. It also makes a fabulous noise and is well paired with Mercedes’ seven-speed automatic gearbox. It comes in two power outputs – 469bhp in the C 63 and 503bhp in the C 63 S. 

Next Steps

Which Is Best


  • Name
    C180 AMG Line 2dr
  • Gearbox type
  • Price

Most Economical

  • Name
    C220d AMG Line Edition 2dr 9G-Tronic
  • Gearbox type
  • Price


  • Name
    C300d AMG Line 2dr 9G-Tronic
  • Gearbox type
  • Price

Most Popular

New 2022 Range Rover leaks: first look at new Land Rover flagship SUV
Range Rover leak - front
Land Rover Range Rover

New 2022 Range Rover leaks: first look at new Land Rover flagship SUV

Images of what could be the next Range Rover have appeared on social media ahead of next week’s reveal
21 Oct 2021
New Michelin Uptis airless tyre blows in ahead of 2024 launch
Michelin Uptis

New Michelin Uptis airless tyre blows in ahead of 2024 launch

The new airless Michelin Uptis is made from rubber and fibreglass and promises to be longer lasting, fuel-saving and recyclable
20 Oct 2021
New Kia EV6 2021 review
Kia EV6 front tracking
Kia EV6

New Kia EV6 2021 review

With a sporty drive, 300-plus miles of range and plenty of tech - could the new Kia EV6 be one of the best electric cars on sale?
19 Oct 2021