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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
The C350 feels particularly punchy in the low and mid range, where the 300 needs to be rung a bit.
The C-Class definitely leans towards the comfortable side of the handling equation. That being said, the C350 will dance if you tempt it.
The back seat is a bit tight for an adult, though there’s plenty of room in the trunk for cargo.
The variable speed assist power steering feels weighty in your hands, but also just right.
Although Mercedes-Benz has done an excellent job of refining automatic transmissions to give a near-manual transmission feel, it still masks the engine performance behind torque converter softness.
While you might normally associate Mercedes-Benz only with lavish comfort, the 2014 C-Class sedans and coupes deliver more satisfying performance and nimbler handling than you might expect. 2012 was a year for the car, and it brought a new lineup of V-6 engines and a entry-level turbocharged four-cylinder with it.
Up at the top of the lineup stands the C 63 AMG Coupe, which can get to 60 mph in a very brisk 4.4 seconds thanks to a 451-horsepower, 443-pound-foot 6.2-liter V-8 engine. It's not all about straight-line performance, however, with a highly tuned suspension that raises the C 63's performance to something on par with the class benchmark, the BMW M3.
The C 350 gets a 302-hp version of this same smooth 3.5-liter engine, making 273 pound-feet of torque. At 5.9 seconds to 60 mph, it's quick, but not shockingly so. Like its stablemates, the rear-drive C 350 is available only with a seven-speed automatic transmission.
In the middle, the all-wheel-drive C 300 models get their motivation from a V-6 and are again offered with a seven-speed automatic. For 2013 they drop the previous engine in favor of a 248-hp version of Mercedes' new-generation 3.5-liter 60-degree V-6, which has direct injection.
With the base C 250 models you get a turbo-charged, direct-injected 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine, rated at 201 horsepower and 229 pound-feet of torque. This engine is fuel-efficient and fun, and it actually feels quicker than the previous V-6 C 300 (its official 7.1 seconds to 60 mph is the same). The C250 is available only in rear-wheel drive, with a seven-speed automatic transmission changing gears.
As for the rest of the C Class models, expect the driving feel to be quite engaging, yet with the straight-line stability and refinement that distinguish most of the models in the M-B lineup. The C250, in particular, punches above its weight in this regard thanks to a lighter, more nimble feeling. C350 models feel like fast, no-compromise touring sedans or grand-touring coupes.
Despite their performance, only the C63 AMG gives up comfort in its quest to tame the twistier bits of tarmac.
Choose your C-Class in Sport trim and it shows signs of handling life; it's a full-bore sports sedan as a C63 AMG.