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2011 Mercedes-Benz C Class Performance

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Performance
Both of the V-6 engines offered on the two primary C-Class models give this compact luxury sedan plenty of oomph, and you're only likely to see much of a difference when taking out the stopwatch or if driving very fast with a full load. Zero to 60 with the C300, which offers up a 228-horsepower, 3.0-liter V-6 engine, is 7.1 seconds, while the C350 Sport can get to 60 in 6.1 seconds and antes up a 268-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6. The C300 has a standard six-speed manual or optional seven-speed automatic, but the C350 can only be had with the automatic.

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.

The 2011 C-Class sedans, especially in Sport guise, offer a more responsive driving experience than might be expected, while the C63 AMG is one very wild but controllable ride.

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.

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