Smooth as you like, courtesy of an electrical system that handles engine start/stop with the deftness of a concert pianist. Set off from a set of traffic lights and the engine cuts back in almost instantly, with hardly any vibration and almost no noise.
The system comes into its own in Eco mode, with the engine cutting in and out inconspicuously as you coast. It’s not quite instant, though, taking just a little too long after lifting off the throttle. A more aggressive setting would make it even more effective at saving on fuel bills.
In motion, the engine doesn’t quite drone, but it is more noticeable from inside the cabin than you’d perhaps expect in a premium saloon. Push hard and the C200 makes you acutely aware that it’s putting in the effort, but that noise doesn’t translate into significant progress. It can feel a little lethargic at a more relaxed pace, but things improve once you’re off the line.
With no manual gearbox anywhere in the range, the C200 relies on a nine-speed automatic gearbox for respectable — if not exactly rapid — shifts. The EQ boost system is supposed to deliver its torque while the turbo spools up, but it isn’t immediately noticeable unless you actively search for it. In most drive modes, the effect is minimal.
Everything looks suitably premium inside and the fixtures easily give it an edge over BMW’s 3 Series, but the C200’s materials can’t quite eclipse that of an Audi A4. It’s all rather busy, too, with an overwhelming number of buttons adorning the steering wheel.
Having seen Mercedes’ new dual-screen MBUX infotainment system in the S-Class, E-Class and even the A-Class hatchback, the older system used here feels a little out of date. A digital instrument cluster goes some way to redressing the balance, but the touchpad/rotary dial combo is fussy to use.
Our test car has 4Matic all-wheel drive, a £1600 premium over the rear-wheel-only C200. While steering is typically light with minimal feel, it is at least accurate. The sports suspension may deliver a firmer ride than the entry-level set-up, but it still copes respectably on rough and pothole-scarred A-roads. The advantages of the optional air springs would probably best suit those doing regular long-distance motorway journeys.