From £29,0359

Bodystyle, dimensions and technical details

This fifth-generation Mercedes C-Class adopts Mercedes’ updated Modular Rear II model architecture employed so far on only the latest Mercedes S-Class. That’s a factor Stuttgart is keen to communicate, as it has always talked up the effect of technology migrating from its flagship limousine down to its biggest-selling saloon. Mercedes followers will know, however, that the last S-Class (2014-2020) and C-Class (2014-2021) also shared their underpinnings.

The W206 is a little larger than the model it replaces, and sticks with a traditional executive car mechanical layout of a longways-mounted engine up front, from where drive is taken to either the rear axle exclusively, or to both. The car’s combustion engines are all four-cylinder units, now with 48V mild-hybrid assistance.

Premium brands rarely waste a chance to show off their powers of precision design with lighting. This C-Class saloon is the first with a two-piece tail-light, and the way the design elements align is a particular source of pride for Stuttgart.

A 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol powers both the entry-level, 168bhp C180 (which isn’t part of the UK model range) and the 201bhp C200, while primary power for both the 255bhp C300 and the C300e comes from a 2.0-litre turbocharged four. The 197bhp C220d and 261bhp C300d diesels, meanwhile, are powered by a revised version of Mercedes’ OM654 engine with a new crankshaft and integrated starter-generator motor.

All C-Classes use a nine-speed automatic transmission, and the C300e PHEV adds a 127bhp permanently excited electric motor into its mechanical mix that can power the car all by itself at speeds of up to 87mph. It draws charge from a lithium ion drive battery that is smaller than the equivalent component in the outgoing C300e but also has nearly twice as much energy capacity: 25.4kWh in total.

Back to top

That battery pack is now slim enough to leave the C300e with a flat, rather than stepped, boot floor. But it must be heavy. Our test car couldn’t be weighed on the day of our performance figures, but Mercedes’ own unladen running-order weight is 2005kg, making it some 235kg heavier than a BMW 330e and 166kg heavier than an equivalent DS 9 PHEV (neither of which offers even half as much battery capacity).

For suspension and steering, the C300e differs slightly from other mid-range C-Classes. It is available only from Mercedes’ AMG Line model tier up but does without the lowered sport suspension of other AMG Line derivatives; and instead of sticking with coil springs at both ends, it uses self-levelling air suspension at the rear for closer body control of one of the car’s major masses.

The progressively geared power steering set-up of other AMG Line cars (which can now be combined with four-wheel steering, but only on the forthcoming Mercedes C43 and Mercedes C63 models) is also dispensed with for the C300e; and, irrespective of trim level, it rides on mixed-width 18in alloy wheels of an aerodynamic spoke design, as well as efficiency-minded Michelin Primacy 4 tyres.