There are five petrol engines and three diesels to choose from in the C-Class range. The supercharged C180K and C200K units are good fun and perform well, but disappointingly, the V6 C230 is thirstier and slower than the C200K. The 228bhp C280 has rapid acceleration and is well powered, but it’s the C350 which is most impressive. It develops 268bhp, races from 0 to 62mph in just 6.5 seconds and boasts an electronically-limited 155mph top speed.
Diesel buyers have the choice of the punchy and vastly improved C200 CDI, the faster C220 CDI all-rounder or the extremely quick C320 CDI powerhouse. The higher powered models – C230, C280, C350 and C320 CDI – enjoy silky smooth gearchanges from the seven-speed automatic transmission. The remaining engines come with a six-speed manual gearbox and hill start assist while a five-speed automatic transmission is also available as an option.
For 2013 the C-Class was updated, with a new C180 BlueEFFICIENCY introduced. This 1.6-litre petrol engine returns 47.9mpg on the combined cycle, emitting 139g/km of CO2. Power is rated at 154bhp with 250Nm of pulling power.
The estate will effortlessly cruise for hours, thanks to its smooth ride. Every model comes with an ‘Agility Control Package’ as standard, which adjusts the suspension set-up according to the driver’s driving style. The C-Class grips every twist and turn confidently and feels settled at high speeds on uneven roads. Speed-sensitive power steering (standard on Sport models and optional on SE and Elegance) ensures it's extremely light to steer at low speeds but isn’t overly sensitive on the motorway.
That means multi-storey car parks shouldn’t prove too daunting, but the optional front and rear sensors do make parking easier.