Around town, we had no gripes with the engine or transmission. The pairing is smooth, quiet, and effortless. That inherent refinement remains a factor right up to highway speed too, so long as you don’t have to get there too rapidly. In those instances, the C200 steps away from the sports car realm and edges over to cruiser.
Kick the accelerator pedal down, ask the transmission to drop back a few cogs and expect the C200 to build up speed quickly, it won’t exactly reward you. It is, in short, a little sluggish. There’s a pause as it seemingly takes a deep breath and then a bit of a hole before the engine rpm translates to on-road speed. The engine sounds a little harsh right up at redline too, although it has to be said that once you do start building up speed, you can overtake quickly enough. This happens whether you roll on from 60, 80 or 100km/h and need to build speed quickly.
The same can be said of some of the inputs. The throttle pedal isn’t snappy, the steering isn’t as sharp as you might expect and the handling a little on the doughy side. You couldn’t call the C200 sloppy but, top up or down, there’s something about the chassis that is unsettled on bumpier roads. We noticed it mainly in tight, corrugated country corners, and in truth, I was probably demanding more of the C200 than any target buyer ever will.
The chassis itself – and its ability to deal with bumpy roads – feels rigid enough over bumps, and the general absorption of the ride is no doubt helped by the 18-inch wheels the C200 is fitted with compared to the C300’s 19s. So, while the handling isn’t perfect, the rigidity of the chassis is impressive enough for this class. What it means is you won’t be encouraged to push the C200 right to its outer limits, but it has to be said that isn’t really the point of this vehicle anyway.
One system that should come in for praise is stop/start. Universally, stop/start annoys me, but the C200 possesses the best I’ve tested. It’s smooth and snappy, such that you quickly forget it’s even active. Even around town, where it’s shutting down and cranking back into life regularly, it is never intrusive, a mark of a very competent and effective system.
While the C-Class Cabriolet isn’t going to suit everyone – regardless of the engine under the bonnet – it does deliver exactly what the potential buyer will want. It’s stylish, classy, possesses excellent build quality as you’d expect, and is as practical as a hardtop.