What is it?
This is the new, more useful version of Mercedes’ new C-class, the C-class Estate. It’s also our first drive in the car on UK roads, and a revisit for us to Mercedes’ 168bhp 2.2-litre four-pot turbodiesel engine.
As the cost of premium brand options becomes ever more outrageous one of the few tick-boxes that continues to offer undeniable value-for-money is the choice of an estate over a saloon. Not only is a station wagon intrinsically more useful at lugging, but it's also a far more imaginative selection than the default-choice three box.
Compared to the £1995 that Merc charges C-class buyers for full-spec sat nav, or the £1295 that a panoramic glass sunroof will set you back, the £1650 it takes to turn a C 220 CDI Sport saloon into an estate looks like a positive bargain.
What’s it like?
Historically Merc has struggled with the whole compact estate thing. The first C-class wagon was a generation behind rivals from BMW and Audi; it was also an awkward-looking thing and not particularly spacious.
Mercedes’ second attempt was far better, but few would claim it could match a contemporary 3-series Touring or A4 Avant aesthetically.
The new car, however, is a genuine contender. It looks great, sharing a fair bit of the handsome E-class wagon's design architecture and getting a neatly sculpted falling roofline.
It's also impressively useful, an area where premium-badged estates often fall short. The wide tailgate opens onto a spacious loadspace floor and there's more luggage space on offer with the rear seats in place than in either the A4 Avant or 3-series Touring.
Collapsing the rear seats creates an impressively roomy 1354-litres of volume and enough length to accommodate a reasonably enthusiastic Homebase workout. A collapsible shopping box that lives under the boot floor is standard and - for another £170 - buyers can opt for an "easy-pack load securing kit" to allow pretty much any shape of cargo to be held in place.
Top-spec versions of the C-class lugger get a power-operated tailgate, although its less-than-rapid reactions and irritating warning chime left us struggling to see the point.