$34,799 - $70,639

2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class was new.


Performance: 7.7

With Mercedes' appealing selection of 2018 C-Class models, you can choose from options that include a pleasant entry-level edition, a fuel-efficient hybrid, or a more aggressive AMG-tuned car. Horsepower and handling vary from one trim to the next, but overall, the C-Class leans on the comfort side of the spectrum.

  • "The C300 performs with luxury-car smoothness and is a joy to drive because it's easy to maneuver in tight spaces and requires little effort from the driver in typical conditions." -- Edmunds
  • "We're living in a golden age of performance, with more options and choice than ever. In the case of the C Coupe lineup, the C43 middle child provides a distinctly higher level of performance and sportiness than the pretty-but-pedestrian C300 Coupe. This gateway drug to the full-bore C63 still manages to live up to its AMG badge. It's perfectly good on its own, and if it means more people get turned on to the joys of a G63 or S65, we can't argue with that." -- Autoblog (2017)
  • "Of the three, the AMG C43 offers the best driving experience. Sure, it doesn't have the same numbers as the C63S, but I was able to use more of the power on public roads in a safe manner. 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 (2017)

Acceleration and Power

Four powertrains are available for the C-Class, each tied to a different model. The base C300 comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a nine-speed automatic transmission. This 241-horsepower setup is smooth and brisk, though it can't match AMG-tuned models when it comes to blistering takeoffs or growly exhaust notes. Its fuel economy rating of 24 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway is about average for the class.

The C350e is a plug-in hybrid. Its 275-horsepower hybrid powertrain consists of a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a seven-speed automatic transmission, and a single electric motor. It can only drive about 8 miles on all-electric power, but it has a 51 mpg-equivalent rating. According to the EPA, you can recharge its battery in 1.5 hours at 240 volts.

For faster acceleration, more top-end power, and richer exhaust notes, select from one of the three AMG models. Under the hood of the C43 is a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 engine. This is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission and has a 362-horsepower rating. Fuel economy drops to 20 mpg city/27 mpg highway. AMG C63 models come with a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 engine and a seven-speed automatic transmission. Horsepower varies between each version – the C63 is rated at 469 horsepower, while the C63 S achieves 503 horsepower. Gas mileage is estimated at 17-18 mpg city/22-24 mpg highway.

  • "The C-Class drives with a similar stateliness as its E-Class and S-Class brothers, but in smaller, nimbler form. While comfort and quiet are top of mind, the C-Class is easy to hustle. In fact, the 2018 C-Class is beguilingly quick, and its turbocharged 4-cylinder feels more powerful than its stated 241 horsepower. With the new 9-speed transmission, the C 300 now runs to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds, 2/10ths of a second quicker than last year." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The run up to 60 mph takes 6.1 seconds, which is about average for an all-wheel-drive vehicle in this class. Transmission shifts are smooth and quick in the default mode and more aggressive and abrupt in Sport mode. It gets up to speed without drama, but power tends to taper off a bit on the top end." -- Edmunds
  • "Base-engine luxury cars have come a long way … and the C300 is no exception. Rarely did I want more oomph than could be delivered …, and the engine sounded better than expected for a turbo-four (not as good as the AMG-badged models, but still decent). The new nine-speed automatic provided smooth shifts; only in a couple slower-speed situations did it lag a bit." -- Motor Trend (2017)

Handling and Braking

The C-Class comes standard with rear-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive is available in many (but not all) models. The C-Class has easy steering and strong brakes, and it's capable of navigating both crowded city streets and twisty canyon roads with relative ease. The ride quality on some models feels too stiff, but adding the available air suspension system alleviates this.

  • "We deem it critical to spring for the optional Airmatic suspension since ride quality is the only objection we have with the C300 Cabriolet. We've evaluated the Airmatic add-on, and it's a night-and-day difference in regard to comfort. Otherwise, the C300 gets high marks in this category." -- Edmunds
  • "On these smooth, well-maintained byways, at least, the C43's suspension setup proved balanced and composed, never transmitting harsh impacts into the cabin yet keeping body motions well-controlled. Lateral grip is impressive, and the brake pedal is reassuringly firm. Based on this first impression, the C43's ride quality is better than that of the C63, which can clomp over bumps, especially when equipped with its larger wheel setup that staggers 19-inch front wheels with 20-inch rears." -- Car and Driver (2017)
  • "One thing Mercedes-AMG does particularly well is offer drivers a performance democracy: The suspension is not tied with the driving mode, meaning you can … get the faster acceleration, quicker shifts, and sound of Sport Plus while the suspension is in Comfort. The engine response, transmission, steering, and suspension settings can all be adjusted to your preference, and independent of each other." -- Autoblog (2017)

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