$29,226 - $67,425

2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class was new.


Performance: 7.4

The 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class offers plenty of engines to choose from. The base engine gets good fuel economy and has more than adequate power, but there are several more-powerful options if you want to blow by other cars on the road. There's also a hybrid powertrain for the fuel- and/or environmentally-conscious.

As for handling, you'll probably be impressed as long as you don't expect the C-Class to be a true corner-carving machine. It's fairly nimble, and the steering is responsive. There are four drive modes to choose from that let you adjust throttle and steering response to your liking, and three available suspensions can improve upon the C-Class' already-smooth ride.

  • "On back roads of eastern Italy and Slovenia, the C300, AMG C43, and AMG C63 S all performed solidly." -- Motor Trend
  • "The C300 was just a bit too tame for my blood, but it should satisfy those who just want to drive a Mercedes-Benz and aren't necessarily worried about sports car performance." -- CNET
  • "But this C-Class isn't trying to be a sports sedan-and that's a key point. As a luxury machine, it's spectacular." -- Road and Track (2015)

Acceleration and Power

In some cars, the base engine isn't really satisfactory, but that's not the case in the C-Class. The base C300 sedan has a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that puts out 241 horsepower, and it feels plenty powerful whether you're driving around town or on the highway. It also gets pretty good fuel economy for a nonhybrid luxury small car. The C300 sedan gets an estimated 24 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway.

Want more power? Step up to the C450 AMG sedan, which features a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that puts out 362 horsepower. It moves effortlessly down the road and accelerates quickly. The larger engine does impact your fuel economy though. Mercedes estimates that the C450 only gets 21 mpg in the city and 29 on the highway. The AMG C43 features this engine as well.

Finally, there are some high-performance options available. The AMG C63 sedan features a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 that puts out 469 horsepower. According to Mercedes, the C63 will go from zero to 60 mph in 4 seconds. The AMG C63 S also features a twin-turbo V8, though the C63 S' engine produces 503 horsepower, and Mercedes claims the C63 S will go zero to 60 mph in under 4 seconds. If you go with one of the AMG models, prepare to be impressed when you put the hammer down.

Seven-speed automatic transmission is standard in all models except the C300 and AMG C43, both of which feature a nine-speed automatic transmission. The seven-speed automatic works just fine, but it doesn't unlock the C-Class' full potential; the nine-speed automatic does a better job of this.

All models also feature an engine start-stop system, which shuts the engine off while the vehicle is stopped – at a red light, for instance – in order to improve fuel efficiency.

  • "The 2017 C-Class from Mercedes comes with a potent turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that acts as the base powerplant in the C300 sedan, coupe and convertible." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The C300 will launch in spring of 2016 with a seven-speed automatic, but that gearbox is merely a bandage until a new nine-speed unit replaces it a year later. The seven-speed transmission times its shifts smartly, yet during full-throttle kickdowns, gearchanges are slower than those of the eight-speed automatic BMW favors." -- Car and Driver
  • "It's not quite a supercar for the real world quite like C63 is or the leather-clad rocket ship the S65 is, but on public roads, the C43 is plenty fast. And when you put the car in one of its sportier settings, the transmission does a great job of keeping the revs up and minimizing turbo lag." -- Road and Track

Handling and Braking

The rear-wheel drive C-Class focuses on providing a cushioned ride, and it succeeds. But that doesn't mean you can't enjoy the time you spend behind the wheel. Though it can't match the sportiness of class rivals like the Cadillac ATS or BMW 3 Series, the C-Class is fairly agile with sharp steering.

Drivers that like to tailor a car's performance to their driving style will appreciate how the C-Class lets you choose between four drive modes that control throttle and steering response: ECO, Comfort, Sport, and Sport+. Depending on how you want your C-Class to handle, you can also opt for one of the three available suspensions. The sport-tuned suspension is stiffer and provides better handling, the comfort-tuned suspension is designed for a softer ride, and the Airmatic suspension adapts to road conditions to provide better handling or a smoother ride. All-wheel drive is available if you also want better road grip.

  • "Thanks to the adjustable suspension, you have the option of putting the car in Comfort, Eco, and Sport modes, but I suspect most enthusiasts will choose to leave it on the sportiest setting, Sport+. It's certainly firm, but only the bumpiest of city streets will be too uncomfortable. The payoff, of course, comes any time the road gets twisty." -- Road and Track
  • "A lightweight body and nimble suspension make the 2017 Mercedes-Benz C-Class fun to toss into tight curves, although feedback from the steering wheel isn't as quick as in the Cadillac ATS or BMW 3 Series. There is a discernable solidity to this car, something that helps reinforce the feeling of safety and security when seated behind the wheel." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "In Comfort mode, the coupe glides confidently over rutted terrain. Turn the wick up in Sport or Sport+ and there's less lean in corners. Even though the coupe's steering is a little sharper here than in the sedan, the wheel delivers relatively limited road feel and provides this two-door with more of a neutral, grand touring atmosphere." -- Autoblog

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