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There is no area in which the C-Class has advanced further in this current generation. While the previous Mercedes C-Class that ceased production in 2006 felt vague, imprecise and no kind of driver’s car, the current model actually had the best chassis in the class until the current generation of 3 Series was introduced in 2012.

Whether you buy a C 180, a C 63 AMG or any one of the myriad models between these two poles, you can be sure it will be beautifully damped and properly balanced. These are cars that exploit the inherent advantage of their rear-drive configuration and the sheer class of wishbone front suspension and a five-link rear axle to the limit.

The old C-Class was always underrated and subtly effective at covering ground

But that’s not what you notice most when you first head down the road. It’s the steering that’s the standout talent in this category, an area in which many Mercedes have been historically notably deficient. The precision with which the car can be guided and the feel it provides through the thick rim speaks of a car with great structural stiffness and an exceptionally rigidly mounted rack. It’s good enough to make the humblest, slowest C-Class rewarding to drive and far more sporting in feel than many more powerful, quicker machines.

Ride quality is excellent too, so long as you steer clear of the stiffer suspension of the AMG-branded models. In standard form the car offers exceptional compliance which could lead to a sense of looseness in lesser cars, but with expert control of roll rates the C-Class instead simply feels supple and able to soak up the worst a British B-road or city street might throw at it.

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The stiffer suspension does provide more grip and a more sporting feel on a smooth, dry road, but at the price of a substantial chunk of that compliance. It's a trade we’d feel disinclined to make.

By contrast, you need that level of control to handle the performance of the real AMG, and it provides it complete with the opportunity for lurid slides whenever conditions allow. Traction is obviously a limiting factor but the car never feels nervous or anything less than demonstrably on your side.

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