What is it?
The less powerful of the two six-cylinder petrol C-classes currently available. A C 230 joins the range in September 2007.
What's it like?
Smooth. This is a very silky engine, and in the C-class it's also remarkably hushed. Too hushed at points, in fact, because we know that it has a pleasant exhaust note, but you don't get to appreciate that from the driver's seat.
It's a shame, then, that the ride isn't quite as smooth as the engine. We tried the C 280 in firmer-riding Sport trim – the only way you'll get the arguably more handsome coupe-like grille – and it fidgets over road scars at low speeds. Still, we know that the non-Sport C-classes suffer the same restlessness.
The pay off is good body control, with little roll in corners and plenty of grip.
The steering is accurate and nicely direct, and provides reasonably good feedback.
The 280 comes with a standard seven-speed auto box, and in Sport trim it also has steering-wheel mounted paddles. It's smooth-shifting, though still not quite up to the best ZF has to offer.