The Mercedes-Benz C-Class is a great performer as it’s classy in an aspirational manner, but not snobbish. It’s got plenty of excellent tech and the latest range of Merc’s engines. Now Mercedes-Benz has added the Estate version to the range and in many ways it’s even better than the sedan. We got to grips with C200 Estate for a week’s test drive.
Space UpgradesAs you’d expect the C-Class Estate has more room in the back thanks to the hatch at the rear and lengthened body (it’s 16mm longer than the sedan). That doesn’t sound like much, but when compared to the previous generation C-Class Estate it’s 96mm longer and 40mm wider. The bulk of the gains have been sent to the rear passengers who enjoy 45mm more legroom. It’s definitely spacious in the back and if you’re going to load large items into the rear, the seats now offer three-way split functionality of 40:20:40. Boot space comes in at 490-Litres and once the seats are folded down flat, it opens up 1510-Litres. It’s a long loading space, but it tapers in around the wheel arches which makes it a bit skinny as you push your cargo further into the boot. Our unit also had the optional electric tailgate, which is a good buy, but other markets get this feature as standard.
DurabilityThe C-Class Estate has the same cabin as the sedan so there’s plenty of nice bits to touch and look at. It’s classy and upmarket with leather, brushed aluminium and lush carpeting. The rear loadbay is carpeted all-round so you might want to invest in some rubber mats if you have a dog that likes getting muddy or partake in outdoor leisure activities.
EngineWe tested the higher powered 2-litre turbo sedan last year (2014) and were suitably impressed. The C200 we have here is a slightly detuned version of that engine which now offers 135 kW and 300 Nm of torque. The power unit is creamy smooth through the rev range and the seven-speed auto is well suited to the turbo engine. Pickup from a standstill is quick and not jerky as we have found in some other Mercedes models, including the B-Class.
This engine/gearbox combination really shines out on the freeway when you can let the C-Class Estate cruise at 120kph at 2000rpm and take care of business. If you fit the C-Class Estate with Distronic Plus and steering assist you barely have to drive at all. It's simply a case of setting the cruise speed, keeping your hands on the wheel and it will maintain speed, and turn bends for you as well.
Ride and DriveMuch like the C-Class, the Estate rides beautifully on tarmac. There’s a choice of air suspension or standard steel suspension, but both ride very comfortably. The air suspension setup does have a self-levelling system that makes it a touch better at comfort and handling, especially when loaded. The C-Class Estate cushions potholes and ridges with just about zero feedback to the cabin.
Steering is light around the centre position and weights up differently depending on the speed, but it does a respectable job of making you feel comfortable in the car’s abilities. It’s a pleasure to drive in everyday circumstances and long journeys, but if anything it doesn’t quite have enough excitement built in to make you want to unleash it over a mountain pass or string of bends. Most C-Class Estate owners aren’t looking for those kind of kicks though so in its natural habitat it’s just about perfect.
VerdictWhile South Africans tends to go the SUV route rather than Estates, the C-Class Estate may just be the best C-Class. There’s added practicality and space thanks to a big loading area and I think the rear end of the Estate looks better than the sedan. The rest of the Estate is as per the C-Class so if you feel the styling and space enhancements add up to the R35 000 premium the Estate garners over the sedan, then it’s a great buy. On that note, Mercedes dealers have been known to bargain a bit on their prices so you might not even have to pay all that much extra.
Second OpinionI immediately fell in love with the C-Class Estate the moment I sat behind the wheel. The interior quality is just superb and the detailing is top-notch. The seats support you well and the interior gadgetry is both intuitive and impressive. Out on the road, the C200 Estate glides along in effortless silence and responds with fervor when it's required. The C200 Estate is a truly wonderful car to drive. Then there's all that space, which makes the C200 Estate that much more versatile. If you have a family and enjoy travelling in the lap of luxury, then the C-Class Estate is well worth consideration. - Gero Lilleike
Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate Price in South AfricaThere are three derivatives of the C-Class Estate available starting with the C180 at R471 231. Our C200 Estate Auto starts at R512 352 before options. The top model is the C250 BlueTec diesel that begins at R586 400.
We Like: Looks, comfortable drive, practicality, and superb tech
We don’t Like: Not the most dynamic to drive
Also consider: Audi A4 AllRoad, Volvo V60
See a comparison between the C-Class Estate, A4 AllRoad and V60 here