From £29,0358
Luxurious load-lugger offers generous amounts of room and only loses out to the BMW 3-series Touring on dynamic ability

Our Verdict

Mercedes-Benz C-Class
The C-Class shares a lot of its looks with the new S-Class, furthering its desirability

Can our perennial runner-up in this class finally reach the top spot?

Nic Cackett
19 August 2014

What is it?

The new W205 Mercedes-Benz C-Class we road tested only recently, but this time in its new estate format.

Due in UK dealerships next month, the wagon is the second model built on the MRA platform, and many of its attributes – the longer 2840mm wheelbase and lighter weight, for example – are carried over. 

Its design though, is all new. As is the now-standard addition of a powered tailgate, roof rails and rear seats that split 40:20:40.

The estate shares the saloon’s three-trim line-up (SE, Sport and AMG Line) and is offered initially with three engines: the 182bhp C 200 petrol sitting alongside 168bhp C 220 and 202bhp C 250 BlueTec diesels. C 200 and C 300 oil-burners will complete the range before the end of the year. 

On test here is the mid-spec C 220 Bluetec Sport with the overwhelmingly popular 7G-Tronic Plus automatic transmission.

Highlights from the kit list include park assist, a reversing camera, heated front sports seats, two-zone climate control, cruise control, DAB tuner, sat nav, seven-inch display and 17-inch alloy wheels. Privacy glass (£265) and leather upholstery (£795) see the £34,060 price tag of the standard car rise to £35,120. 

What's it like?

The wagon is new from the B pillar back, and, aesthetically speaking, that’s where some of its problems start.

Mercedes will not appreciate hearing it compared to a hearse, yet from the wrong angle (i.e from 5ft 8in high, looking at the back, side-on) there’s definitely something regrettably suggestive about the estate’s mismatch of roof and window line. 

Its rivals – especially those from Volvo and BMW – are undeniably better looking. But neither lives up to the C-Class’s superior internal ambience.

If the exterior takes Mercedes striven-for somberness to funereal levels, the interior bats it effortlessly back toward supreme tastefulness. Save for a stuck-on infotainment screen posing as a cheap tablet (and the utterly woeful Garmin satnav system that appears on it), the innards are polished, brushed and tenderized to a premium tee. 

That much we knew from the saloon, of course, but the estate better rounds off the experience with the appreciable addition of airiness to the rear.

Not that the more commodious ceiling adds a significant amount of extra luggage space with the seats up: the estate being only 15 litres larger. It doesn’t fix the C-Class’s slight stinginess on legroom either.

It is much more accessible, though, and if you tug on the boot-mounted seatback triggers, there’s 1510 litres of near-flat loadspace on offer – more than you’d find in a V60 or 3-series Touring

To drive, the estate doesn’t particularly alter the W205’s sensitivity to spec or its dynamic inferiority to the BMW. Featured here (despite the Sport trim) is the conventionally sprung ‘comfort’ suspension, making the C 220 plumply refined on the motorway, decently cultured on smooth A roads – and then, over biting, uniquely British obstacles, a little more baffled than expected.

Quicker progress is met more benignly than it would be in a 3 Series Touring thanks to the poorly weighted Direct Steer system and the dampers’ initially indulgent wallow (even in Sport+ mode) – although its stability and ultimate balance aren’t ever seriously in question. 

While the estate’s weight gain is negligible on paper, its 2.1-litre four-pot could honestly do without the extra effort.

It pulls cleanly – especially through its 295lb ft mid-range – yet the quoted 7.6 seconds to 62mph time seems incredibly optimistic (given we were half a second down on that to 60mph in the saloon we recently road tested).

The combined 64.2mpg economy and 115g/km CO2 emissions remain blue-ribbon claims, but it’s more apparent than ever that Mercedes’ stock diesel engine is a generation behind, for example, the new 2.0-litre unit powering the cheaper Volvo V60. 

Should I buy one?

Like the saloon, there’s more than enough quality on show inside to convince you that buying a C-Class estate would be a sage investment.

The bigger boot doesn’t dilute that expensive sense of excellence one bit – indeed, it arguably cuts the finery with just the right amount of practicality to make it an even more flexible (and therefore enticing) proposition. 

Should that make total sense, the carried-over and modest shortfall in handling and performance ought not to matter much. Nor even its less-than-compelling appearance.

But, as we choose to care about such things more deeply, the C-Class estate – in this particular spec – still feels a few tweaks and a chassis fine tune away from unqualified recommendation.

For now, like its saloon-shaped sister, it makes for a luxurious and very livable alternative to a 3 Series rather than intense competition.

Mercedes-Benz C 220 Bluetec Sport estate

Price £34,060; 0-62mph 7.6secs; Top speed 142mph; Economy 64.2mpg; CO2 115g/km; Kerb weight 1615kg; Engine 2143cc, four-cylinder, diesel; Power 168bhp at 3000-4200rpm; Torque 295lb ft at 1400-2800rpm; Gearbox seven-speed automatic

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