The air-suspended C-Class is the most intriguing of the line-up, but it takes no more than 50 metres to know that this is not a baby S-Class in character. In fact, in those first few miles, it’s difficult to work out quite what it is.
Most of the expected absorbency and isolation of air suspension is there, but at town speeds there is quite a lot of intrusion over sharp surfaces, which thump through to the Mercedes' cabin in a sometimes fairly unpleasant fashion – more so than the usual ‘sproing’ you get with air springs. It’s enough to make you wonder why you’d bother with air at all.
It’s not helped by steering that quickens off centre, which is fine, only without any notable increase in steering effort as it twists, which isn’t fine. Combine it all, plus a primary ride that gently lolls, and you’re left with an impression that this isn’t an entirely happy car. It works best at motorway speeds and provides some justification for its existence.
Once on line, though, a C-Class is a pretty relaxed, stable cornerer. The stability control system is fairly deftly tuned, allowing very little slip, and it can be switched off, but this is no great driver’s car and presumably makes little claim to be.