Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate C 250 BlueTEC Sport
Sporting the same cleans lines as the saloon, the C-Class wagon is a stylish car
- Generous standard equipment package
- Exterior design builds on attractive saloon looks
- Sophisticated ride errs on side of comfort
- Easy to access, spacious load area
- Driving experience won't please keen drivers
- Entry-level diesel range lacks a performance edge
- Scaled down E-Class looks lack imagination
- Driver-orientated rivals could prove more popular for some
Compact premium saloons might call most of the shots but there's still a place for their respective estate car stablemates. Few manufacturers bother though as demand is largely restricted to Europe, although Mercedes and BMW are the best known proponents. And it's the latter's C-Class Estate that's under scrutiny here.
With this version of the popular C-Class inheriting much in terms of design and quality cues from the flagship S-Class, the load-lugger version expands on this theme with a generous size load deck.
In estate guise this C-Class offers buyers a useful 1,510 litres of space with the rear seats folded flat. Furthermore, Mercedes engineers have changed the rear seats from the traditional 60-40 split to a more flexible 40-20-40 split to boost the car's flexibility if you want to retain some seating whilst transporting large loads.
Predictably pretty much everything else about the C-Class Estate mirrors that of the saloon forward of the B-pillars. Aside from the estate car-friendly self-leveling suspension, the car's plush cabin and driving environment are the same, as is the overwhelming list of clever optional infotainment and safety kit.
The firm's focus on improved economy and emissions should be applauded but, like with the saloon, opting for the lowest power diesel variant is likely to reveal a few rough edges, namely a lack of engine refinement and a distinct feeling that the overall package is underpowered. While this is tolerable in the saloon, loading up the equivalent estate does put extra pressure on the modest powertrain.
Our verdict on the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate C 250 BlueTEC Sport
Don't let the performance of the low power variants put off, as this C-Class Estate delivers a polished performance way above its price point. The car's cabin, clearly influenced by the S-Class, redefines the C-Class as a car with a distinct bias towards luxury. That its load-carrying credentials are equally impressive cements its status as the premium compact estate to have.
It's good to see that Mercedes has become more generous with the standard kit for the C-Class wagon. That said, it's still easy to add thousands to the list price by cutting loose on the options list. Opting for diesel power could cut your tax and fuel bill, but the increasingly efficient petrol engines shouldn't be dismissed if you don't plan on covering many miles.
Space and practicality
Although it's grown slightly, this C-Class Estate hides its extra girth well. The upshot is a comfortable and accommodating cabin plus, most importantly, a large load area supported by folding rear seats, the ability to divide and secure luggage and benefit from self-leveling suspension to keep the car level on the road.
Controls and display
Unlike the digital offerings of more expensive models, The C-Class' dials and instruments retain a largely conventional layout. And along with an easy to use rotary controller for accessing the car's main functions, Mercedes also provides some simple, clearly marked shortcut buttons for radio, sat-nav and other important features. The standard fit touchpad is a little hit and miss, and can prove fiddly to operate when on the move.
A noticeable improvement to this C-Class model has been a welcome reduction in cabin, engine and road noise. The cabin's plush ambience also helps, as does the choice of supportive and comfortable seats. There's a decent amount of cabin space, which has reduced the chances of occupants rubbing shoulders, too.
An alarm and immobiliser system is part of the package but an extra tracking system or at least safe garaging is highly recommended for a car as desirable as the C-Class.
The presence of crash-responsive head restraints and numerous airbags is welcome, as is the standard inclusion of a collision avoidance system complete with auto brake function plus rain sensing wipers, reversing camera and cruise control. Naturally you can add to this list - active cruise control and a lane keep function are just two stand-out options.
It's no surprise to learn that the estate behaves a lot like the saloon, what with its plush ride and hushed cabin proving most noteworthy. However, for load-luging duties you're wise to pick the most powerful engine you can afford, as the entry-level diesel runs out of puff too quickly. The car's slick controls, decent driving position and mature road manners help compensate though.
Family car appeal
If you're not a fan of SUVs or people carriers, the C-Class Estate offers a modest compromise to families seeking a traditional mode of transport. There's no shortage of load space, but you will sacrifice the seating flexibility of an SUV. Plus, the C-Class' plush trim is unlikely to resist the enemies of sticky fingers and mucky family pets.
First car appeal
No estate car is likely to excite novice drivers, but the premium nature of this C-Class is probably a further deterrent to ownership by way of its asking price and running costs.
Quality and image
While the C-Class Estate can just about justify its asking price, it won't necessarily make you stand out from the crowd. However, it's a much better and more polished proposition than the previous generation if your focus is on refinement and luxury.
Like its saloon stablemate, the estate car's cabin is easy to access and there's ample room fore and aft for occupants. At the rear - the business end - the car's load lip is pleasingly low, the powered tailgate operation smooth and the number of load accessories such as dividers to keep items from moving impressive.
Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)
You'll have to pay extra for the most sophisticated add-ons such as high-end audio packages and premium navigation features. Of particular note is the voice recognition system, plus the easy to use main controller for the car's infotainment display. That said, the not so basic standard kit is good, although the low cost sat-nav is a little clunky in operation.
Colours and trim
Mercedes offers two distinct options: traditional and modern cabin and exterior 'looks'. The former includes low key but sophisticated cabin treatments, while the latter adds more modern materials such as metal trim finishes. Both work well and are a welcome improvement over the car's predecessor.
The C-Class Estate boasts good rear visibility but you'll still need to take care when reversing. Thankfully the parking sensors and reversing camera system take the guesswork out of slotting into tight spaces.
Emergency repair system comes as standard.
Petrol engine options - C 200 2.0-litre (181bhp). Diesel engine options - C 200 (134bhp); C 220 (168bhp); C 250 (201bhp). Transmission options: six-speed manual transmission, seven-speed auto. Trim levels: SE, Sport, AMG line.
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