The C-Class Estate is one of the most comfortable ways of ferrying antique furniture around, but the trade-off is that it’s not particularly good fun to drive
If you do plenty of short journeys, a Mercedes C-Class Estate C180 or C200 model with a 1.5-litre petrol is well worth considering – both are quiet, fairly perky and cheap to run, but only the C200 comes with a mild-hybrid system to give fuel economy and performance a helpful boost, however. Mercedes claims this mild-hybrid model will return more than 46mpg, but you can expect to achieve a number in the region of 37mpg in normal driving conditions. You can get it with four-wheel drive for a little extra grip in slippery conditions, but then fuel economy drops to around 35mpg.
If you spend more time on the motorway, the C220d diesel will be more suitable. It produces 194hp – so it’s plenty quick enough to keep up with fast-moving traffic – and very quiet when you’re cruising along at 70mph. You won’t quite manage to match Mercedes’ claimed 60mpg+ economy figure in real-world conditions, but 50mpg is certainly achievable.
If you prefer a healthy turn of speed from your practical family estate, you should consider one of the C300 petrol or AMG-tuned C43 versions. The former comes with a 245hp engine that’ll accelerate it from 0-62mph in just six seconds while the latter gets a 390hp twin-turbo V6 that helps it covers the same sprint in less than five seconds. Even faster, however, will be the upcoming AMG C63 model – a V8-powered super estate with more than 470hp.
AMG C43 models come with four-wheel drive as standard, but you can get it across the rest of the Mercedes C-Class Estate range. This’ll help make sure you don’t get stuck down a particularly muddy farm track but isn’t really worth the extra cash because it blunts fuel economy by a few miles per gallon.
The C-Class Estate is a comfortable cruiser that’ll be reasonably cheap to run. Well, unless you go for a 390hp AMG C43 model, that is – they drink fuel like it’s going out of fashion…
If you’re looking for a frugal, rather than fast, estate, the C300de plug-in hybrid model will be right up your street. It comes with a similar 194hp 2.0-litre diesel engine to the C220d version but also packs a 120hp electric motor under the bonnet. Together, they help the Mercedes C-Class Estate return as much as 90mpg in normal driving conditions and accelerate from 0-62mhp in just 5.7 seconds.
Charging its batteries from 10% to 100% takes around 90 minutes using a dedicated wall charger, but up to five hours if you have to resort to using a conventional three-pin household plug. Once fully charged, you’ll be able to drive for up to 35 miles in electric-only mode.
Whichever engine you choose, you get a nine-speed automatic as standard. This blends gears together nicely around town and makes the Mercedes C-Class Estate very easy to drive in heavy traffic. Unfortunately, it doesn’t respond to the manual gear change paddles as quickly as the eight-speed automatic you can get in the BMW 3 Series Touring.
The Mercedes C-Class Estate is one of the most comfortable small estate cars around. It irons out bumps around town better than the likes of the 3 Series Touring – handy if you’re carrying fragile cargo. Sure, the standard sports suspension you get in AMG Line models means they aren’t quite as comfortable on poorly maintained roads, but at least they’re still pretty quiet, as you won’t hear much wind or tyre noise at speed.
You’ll find the Mercedes is pretty easy to drive in town. The steering is light and all models come with a reversing camera to help make squeezing into tight parking spaces as stress-free as possible. The wide pillar between the front windows and the windscreen can make it difficult to spot cars approaching at tight junctions, but the estate’s boxy back end at least means you get a good view out behind you.
It’s even easier to drive around town if you pay for the adaptive air suspension. This £895 option cushions you from potholes and rough road surfaces and makes the C-Class Estate feel like a mini E-Class Estate to drive.
Just like the larger E-Class, the C-Class estate comes with loads of safety systems as standard. All versions get automatic emergency braking to help prevent low-speed collisions and adaptive cruise control to help you maintain a safe distance to other cars on the motorway.
The Mercedes’ headline-grabbing safety features are reserved for the optional £1,695 Driver Assistance pack, however. This brings with it lane-keeping assist, blind-spot detection and an even more advanced cruise control feature that’ll pretty much drive for you on well-marked motorways. However, you must remember to keep your hands on the wheel at all times, or the system will disengage.