Performance and 0-60mph time
The C200d can dip under 10 seconds for 0-62mph in manual saloon form (9.7 seconds) and go on to 135mph, which are commendable stats for a small engine in a relatively big car. The C200 petrol is quicker still, covering the same sprint in 7.5 seconds - hitting 147mph to the diesel's 135mph.
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The larger diesels can all do the 0-62mph sprint in less than eight seconds (6.6sec for the C250d) and the hybrids are commendably brisk; the C300h is a 6.4-second-to-62mph car (topping out at 152mph) while the plug-in hybrid C350e covers the same sprint in 5.9 seconds and reaches an electronic limiter at 155mph.
The C43 covers the same 0-62mph sprint in 4.7sec and hits the same 155mph limiter. With nine gears to choose from that performance is always on tap and throttle response is good too, despite the engine's turbocharging. The estate is a tenth slower, while the coupe matches the saloon and the convertible matches the estate. In Sport or Sport+ mode there's a welcome increase in exhaust roar but it's not instantly recognisable as a V6 engine.
In practice, C-class models feel every bit as quick as the figures suggest. Linear acceleration from the 2.1-litre diesel is met with some slightly unwanted engine noise in the cabin and the 2-litre petrol isn't best-suited to the C-class either. Peak torque arrives as low as 1400rpm in the C220d, with maximum power arriving soon after. Keep to a cruise and the four-cylinder models do settle down.
Even better is the C300h's step-off acceleration, which is aided by the electric motor's instantaneous punch. On the move, it's harder to discern the hybrid's power advantage over standard diesels. The C43 is the most satisfying of the lot. It lacks the drama of AMG's V8 models, but performance is strong and it shows a willingness to rev right to the red line.
In terms of weight, the estate is around 60kg heavier spec-for-spec compared to the saloon, while the auto adds 20kg over manual equivalents. Emissions and performance don’t necessarily suffer on all auto-equipped versions, though, as it depends on model-specific gearing.