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.

When in manual override, an extended upshift push on the gearlever reselects Drive. Nice touch

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.

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