In-depth reviews

Mercedes C-Class review - Engines, performance and drive

The C-Class offers a range of capable engines, with an appealing blend of power and efficiency

The latest Mercedes C-Class uses a heavily revised version of the previous model’s MRA architecture. This set-up also supports the new luxury S-Class, with the smaller compact executive benefitting from an overhauled suspension system and improved ride comfort.

All models in the C-Class range include 48-volt mild-hybrid assistance, which uses an integrated starter/generator that recoups energy lost under braking. The system then uses the small electric motor to help boost the efficiency of the combustion engine when you accelerate. It sounds a little complicated, but the tech works away unobtrusively out on the road, allowing you to focus on driving.

We’ve tried the C 220 d mild hybrid model and found it an incredibly smooth drive: with 440Nm of torque available from 1,800rpm, the C-Class was able to effortlessly shift up to higher motorway speeds and remained relatively quiet and composed under harder acceleration. 

There are five individual driving modes to choose from: Comfort, Eco, Sport, Sport+ and Individual. Each mode is tailored to suit a particular driving preference, with the softer Comfort setting being our choice for everyday driving. Eco mode adjusts the throttle, climate control and other settings to help reduce overall fuel consumption, while also automatically shutting off the engine when you come to a standstill. 

Switching to Sport and Sport+ means you’ll benefit from sharper steering and throttle responses, along with a firmer suspension set-up; a better option if you’re taking on a twisty B-road. The nine-speed auto transmission works intuitively and isn’t often caught out, although when we tried the plug-in model we found the hybrid system required a little moment before catching on that we were looking for a lower gear.

Mercedes has managed to improve the C-Class’s dynamic performance, but it still doesn’t trouble a BMW 3 Series for driving fun. Keen drivers will find that the brakes don’t offer enough feel and the steering could be more communicative, despite the various drive modes on offer.

Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed

Outside of the sporty AMG-tuned models, the plug-in hybrid versions will no doubt be the quickest cars in the C-Class range. Mercedes is yet to publish data for the PHEV lineup, so the interim performance crown goes to the C 300 d which manages a 0-62mph time of 5.7 seconds and a 155mph maximum.

The petrol C 300 isn’t far behind, sprinting from 0-62mph in 6.0 seconds flat, while both the C 200 and C 220 d accomplish the same feat in 7.3 seconds, with top speed down a few mph.

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