Whether in a Sport or Luxury model, the powertrain stays remarkably smooth and composed, with a nice linear power delivery with either engine. The seven-speed automatic that's offered throughout the range shifts cleanly and offers a manual-shift mode for more engaged drivers, but it can feel a little slow to respond. The C-Class range is primarily rear-wheel drive, but the C300 can be ordered with 4Matic all-wheel drive, which is set with a 45:55 rear torque bias and shifts more torque to the front wheels as the rears begin to slip.
Handling in this generation of C-Class was much-improved over previous versions, and Sport models are ever closer to the standard set by BMW. All C-Class sedans have an Agility Control suspension, which uses mechanical switches to change suspension tautness and reduce body motion, while still giving the C-Class a well-controlled ride. The same Sport/Comfort button that speeds up gearchanges and throttle response feeds more feel into the steering and stiffens the suspension. Steering response is quicker that you'd probably expect from a Mercedes, but it's not quite as direct as BMW's 3-Series, and though it loads and unloads nicely the feel can be quite numb. A Dynamic Handling Package was new last year for rear-drive Sport sedans; it fits the suspension with electronically controlled shocks, even faster steering, and AMG 18-inch wheels.
Sport versions are highly recommended, because the ride quality doesn't suffer much at all for its more aggressive cant; the Sport sedan also gets bigger wheels and brakes, as well as a dual exhaust to go with its lower, more tightly sprung suspension.
At the top of the line, is the brilliant (and slightly wicked) C63 AMG, powered by a massive 6.2-liter V-8 that rumbles out 451 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. The C63 shoots to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds and can press a top speed of 155 mph even higher, to 186 mph, with an optional sport pack. The seven-speed automatic shifts in a different manner than the rest of the C-Class, with rapid, decisive changes. AMG also tightens handling down to the bare essentials, with almost no body roll, as well as a revised front and rear suspension, a wider track, quicker steering, and big 18-inch wheels with 14.2-inch front disc and 13-inch rear disc brakes.