It’s taken over 20 years, but Mercedes has at last built a small sporting saloon that’s better than a BMW M3. The omens were good from the moment the new C-class was launched last year for it was clearly going to provide a great platform into which they could shoe Mercedes’ 6.2-litre engine. But the resulting car is perhaps better even than its parts suggest. The 457bhp engine qualifies the C63 for membership of that exclusive club of cars that will hit 100mph in under 10sec, but it is the faithful, beautifully balanced and communicative chassis that will live in my mind. I drove it in filthy conditions with which it coped with imperious ease. Its only problems are slightly too firm spring rates for British roads and a miserably small fuel tank. The first I would tolerate, the second, I fear, would be a deal-breaker.