Mercedes C-Class Estate (2014-2017) review
The C-Class estate looks good both inside and out and is comfortable and generally quiet on the move – shame the diesels are noisy
What's not so good
Find out more about the Mercedes C-Class Estate (2014-2017)
The Mercedes C-Class Estate is worth considering if you’re looking for an upmarket family car that looks good, drives well and has a big boot. It’s the more practical brother to the C-Class saloon and C-Class cabriolet, which are reviewed separately.
Inside, you’ll find a plus cabin. Its minimalist design, slick metal switches and – on top-spec AMG Line cars – ash wood trim all look lovely. Real leather seats are an £800 option, but the standard-fit man-made Artico items feel plush enough to fool all but the most keen-eyed cowhide enthusiasts.
Less convincing is the rather cheap-looking infotainment display fitted to SE models. Its small seven-inch screen and huge plastic frame certainly looks more Sony Walkman than Apple iPad and it’s less intuitive to use than systems offered by Audi and BMW. You’ll want to spend £2,995 to upgrade to the Premium Pack with its bigger, more colourful screen and Comand Online infotainment system. That’s a lot of cash!
Headroom in the front is decent and there’s plenty of seat adjustment as standard. All models feature electric lumbar support, too, so long journeys shouldn’t give you backache. Space in the rear is less generous, however – both the BMW 3 Series Touring and Audi A4 Avant are better for carrying rear passengers.
The C-Class estate’s 490-litre boot is only very slightly smaller than those in the BMW 3 Series Touring and Audi A4 Avant but it grows to a roomy 1,510 litres when you fold the rear seats down in a 40:20:40 split. It’s big enough to carry a bike without removing its wheels and the floor flat enough to make loading heavy boxes easy.
If outclassing the rest of the car-boot-sale crowd is your thing, then the C-Class Estate is the car for you
The C-Class Estate’s just as comfortable to drive as the saloon model. Avoid sporty AMG-Line cars with their rather firm suspension and the C-Class will deal with rutted British roads with ease. The optional £895 air suspension – available on all but SE and SE Executive models – makes it feel even more comfortable and luxurious.
Also the C-Class Estate is quiet at motorway speeds and comes with bundles of advanced safety kit that can accelerate, brake and even steer for you. It offers a better compromise between sporty handling and comfort than a BMW 3 Series Touring but it’s not quite as relaxing to drive as an Audi A4 Avant.
You can get the C-Class Estate with two petrol, two diesel and two hybrid engines. The smooth C200 petrol – which manages around 40mpg – is best for pottering around town but the C220d diesel will be cheaper to run if you spend more time on the motorway – it’ll return around 50mpg.
Whichever engine you pick, you’re best off avoiding the clunky standard six-speed manual gearbox and going for the silky smooth nine-speed auto. It’s available as a £1,600 option on C220d models and above and makes driving the C-Class Estate even more stress-free.
You needn’t worry about safety either. Bundles of high-tech sensors and software, designed to automatically avoid collisions, help make the C-Class Estate one of the safest cars around. Mercedes’ efforts are backed-up by a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating awarded to the C-Class saloon in 2014.
And, just like the saloon, the C-Class Estate should be near the top of your list if you want a comfortable and stylish car, even though it isn’t as fun to drive as a BMW 3 Series Touring or quite as practical as an Audi A4 Avant.
For more information on the Mercedes C-Class estate, read the interior, practicality, driving and specifications sections of our review over the following pages. And, to see what offers are available on the Mercedes C-Class Estate, visit our deals page.
The Mercedes C-Class estate looks after its driver and front-seat passenger very well, but it’s easy to find alternatives with more room in the rear seats and boot
The boot in the C-Class isn't the biggest, but it more than compensates with lots of little features that you'll really appreciate in daily life
Both the C-Class Estate’s front seats come with height adjustment as standard and there’s more than enough headroom to get comfortable, even if you’re over six-foot tall. Electrically adjustable lumbar support – to help reduce backache on long journeys – comes fitted to all models as standard, too.
Space in the back is a little cramped. Your passengers won’t be left wanting for legroom but headroom for tall adults is tighter than in a 3 Series Touring – especially with the optional panoramic glass roof fitted.
Try to squeeze three passengers in the back and they’ll have plenty to complain about. It’s not excessively tight but the middle seat is raised slightly, a large lump in the floor cuts into the available foot space and there’s significantly less shoulder room than you’ll find in an Audi A4 Avant.
Fitting a child seat is relatively easy thanks to the estate’s flat roofline and clearly marked Isofix anchor points. The fittings don’t have easy-to-lose caps and the rear doors open wide so it’s a breeze to lean in and strap in a child.
You can easily hide away a few family bits and bobs in the C-Class Estate’s storage cubbies. All the door pockets are big enough to hold a large bottle of water each and you can charge your phone using the 12V socket or USB port in the large storage bin under the front armrest.
It’s not all good news, however. The front cupholders will struggle to hold anything larger than a small drinks can and most of the space in the rather small glovebox is taken up by the owner’s manual.
Mercedes has fitted the back of the C-Class Estate’s front seats with some rather fetching airline-style leather pockets instead of the cheap-feeling nets you’ll find on some estates. You can have Mercedes fit a coat hanger to the front passenger seat headrest, but it’ll set you back a faintly ridiculous £89.
The estate’s 490-litre boot capacity is just shy of both the 495-litre BMW 3 Series Touring and the 505-litre Audi A4 Avant. It’s still big enough to carry a baby stroller and a few soft bags with plenty of room to spare, however – even with all five seats and the load cover in place.
Unlike the C-Class saloon, the estate’s boot has a wide, square opening and a flat boot lip. As a result, it’s easy to slide heavy items on board and a set of golf clubs will slot in with plenty of room to spare.
You can fold the rear seats in a 40:20:40 split as standard using the handy buttons in the boot. This means you can carry two passengers in the back and some long winter sports gear at the same time. The resulting 1,510-litre load bay – the same size as an A4 Avant and 10 litres larger than the 3 Series Touring – is almost completely flat and is easily big enough to carry a bike without removing its wheels.
There’s just enough space under the boot floor to tuck away a few valuables and Mercedes provides a collapsible storage crate for free, too. Some helpful tethering points, shopping hooks and storage nets all help stop small items rolling around in the back.
The C-Class Estate is quiet, comfortable and won’t cost the earth to run but you couldn’t exactly call it fun…
The optional air suspension is so comfortable it might just send you to sleep – thankfully, the C-Class Estate comes with so much safety kit it can almost drive itself
You can get the C-Class Estate with two petrol and two diesel engines. It’s also offered with a hybrid drive system in C300h and C350e guise and can be had with 4Matic four-wheel drive, too.
Pick a C200 model If you spend most time driving around town. Its 2.0-litre 184hp petrol engine will return around 40mpg and it feels noticeably smoother than both diesel versions.
The 170hp C220d diesel will return around 50mpg and is your best bet if you’re looking for a quiet motorway cruiser. Unfortunately, it rattles like an errant pound coin in a washing machine when you accelerate hard.
More powerful C250d models feel faster but they’re no smoother and will use slightly more fuel. They are, however, offered with Mercedes 4Matic four-wheel-drive system for a little extra grip in slippery conditions. Don’t think this £1,600 option turns your smart estate into a mini monster truck – it’ll still be flummoxed by anything more challenging than a slightly muddy field.
The most efficient models are the C300h and C350e hybrids. The former can return around 55mpg while the latter can cruise along in electric-only mode for as many as 19 miles. Both are significantly more expensive to buy than conventional petrol or diesel versions but they’ll be noticeably cheaper to run. The C350e model is even exempt from the London Congestion Charge – ideal if you live or work in the Capital.
A £1,600 nine-speed automatic gearbox is available on all but C200d models and, in a car as relaxing as the C-Class – it’s basically an essential.
The C-Class Estate is fairly relaxing to drive thanks to its light controls and quiet cabin. Unfortunately, visibility is hampered by a thick pillar where the windscreen meets the front doors that produces large blind spots at junctions.
All models come with a handy reversing camera as standard but, for a little extra peace of mind, pick an SE Executive Edition model or above – they come with a self-parking system that’ll manoeuvre you into parallel and bay parking spaces automatically.
Entry-level SE models lean quite considerably in tight corners while AMG Line versions are a little too firm – especially over rough roads. Mid-range Sport models offer a far better balance of comfort and handling. If you’re willing to part with £895 you can fit Sport and AMG Line models with a fantastic air suspension system. It does an excellent job of smoothing out rutted road surfaces and can even lower the car’s body slightly to make it feel more stable at motorway speeds – only your bed is more comfortable.
The optional £1,695 Driver Assistance Pack comes with a vast array of sensors and systems that help the C-Class Estate stay within its lane on motorways and keep a safe distance from cars ahead. It’ll automatically brake if it senses an impending collision ahead and even steer you back on course if it detects you’re getting a little too close to vehicles in your blind spots.
These active safety systems all helped the standard C-Class achieve a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating in 2014. The testing regime has been made significantly stricter since then but the C-Class Estate is still an impressively safe family car.
There’s more than just a hint of S-Class about the C-Class Estate’s upmarket, minimalist cabin. Unfortunately, its unintuitive infotainment system lets the side down