If slotting a powerful V6 petrol engine into the C-class sounds like fun, then you’re going to find a lot to like about Mercedes-Benz’s new C 350. It runs the German car maker’s four-valve-per-cylinder 3.5-litre V6, as launched in the SLK 350 last year and since introduced to the E 350 and CLS 350 in Europe.
With 272bhp, the alloy unit offers 54bhp more than the three-valve-per-cylinder 3.2-litre V6 in the outgoing C 320. It also puts an added 29lb ft of torque to the rear wheels, with 258lb ft on offer between 2500 and 5000rpm. Mated to a standard six-speed manual ’box, the gains are enough to punch the C 350 from 0-62mph in just 6.4sec and extend its top speed to 155mph – improvements of 1.3sec and a scant 1mph over the C 320. It also uses less fuel, with combined consumption of 29.4mpg compared to 25.9mpg.
The added acceleration is obvious, but it is the more flexible nature and alluring sound of the new engine that appeals most. Not only does the new V6 outgun its predecessor, it also produces more power than BMW’s new magnesium block 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder 330i and Audi’s 3.2-litre FSI V6 A4 but, at 3.5 litres, Mercedes’ engine is a good deal larger than either rival’s.
Still, this takes nothing away from the C 350’s engaging handling, which benefits from the introduction of heavily revised suspension and improved steering to the C-Class last year.