Sitting below the most popular 168bhp 2.1-litre C 220 CDI coupé in the Mercedes C-Class coupé range is the 154bhp 1.8-litre, four-pot petrol model in the C 180, while the 201bhp 1.8 in the C 250, 302bhp 3.5 V6 in the C 350 and 451bhp 6.2-litre V8 C 63 complete the petrol line-up.
A 201bhp version of the four-cylinder turbodiesel available in the C 250 CDI for a relatively small premium over the C 220 CDI. Of course, there’s also the mighty 510bhp 6.2-litre V8 C 63 Black Series coupé at the very top of the range.
Given its relatively modest premium, you might well wonder if the C 250 CDI engine is the superior choice to the 220 because it knocks a full second off the claimed 0-62mph time, lowering it to 7.1sec, for precisely no loss of economy.
The four-pot diesel resists making excessive noise until you wind it out beyond 4000rpm, something the torque-converter automatic gearbox is disinclined to do unless you really insist. Frankly, the engine’s best work is done before then anyway, with the meat of performance coming through the mid-range.
The C 180’s slightly diesel-ish torque delivery means that there’s little point in revving it. In fact, the C 180 isn’t so slow, but it’s definitely at its best as a cruiser, something that can also be said of the C250, despite its common four-cylinder motor getting more power. And despite the brisk performance of the C 350, it’s no hot-shoe model. The engine demonstrates a remarkable calm and sophistication.
The C 63 AMG and C 63 AMG Black Series models predictably don’t share the easy-going traits of the other three engines in the line-up. The performance of the C 63 AMG is effortless, enabling it to reach seriously high speeds without seemingly drawing breath.
The Black Series feels more like a Porsche 911 GT3 RS than almost any other road-legal performance car we can think of – except super-lightweight Caterhams, Lotuses and the like.