The C-Class certainly looks fancy inside thanks to the eye-catching trims and posh metal details, but alternatives have better infotainment systems that are more intuitive
Rather than try to look overly sporty, the C-Class Estate’s cabin comes with a plush, luxurious design that does its best to mimic what you get in the range-topping S-Class. From the three metal air vents on the dashboard to the cold-to-the-touch metal switches on the centre console, everything feels a bit more special than in a BMW, and looks far more interesting than an Audi.
If you fancy something even flashier, you can replace the SE and Sport model’s standard (but quite easy to scratch) gloss black trims with some attractive unvarnished wood inserts in AMG Line versions, or even carbon-fibre-effect trims as part of the £700 AMG Interior Carbon pack. This brings with it an analogue clock, but it’s only available on high-spec C43 models.
All models come with intuitive buttons on the doors for adjusting the position of the front seats and some soft, faux-leather trims on the doors where you can comfortably rest your elbow as you drive along. Tick the box for the optional Burmester stereo, and you’ll also get some intricate laser-etched metal speaker grilles.
Unfortunately, while you get lots of posh materials as standard, genuine leather seats cost an extra £795 and they’re only available on Sport, AMG Line and C43 models. At least the standard ‘Artico’ man-made alternative is pretty hard wearing and feels reasonably convincing – your passengers will never know they’re not sitting on genuine cow hide.
A widescreen 10.25-inch infotainment screen comes as standard, but (annoyingly) you have to fork out extra if you want a huge 12.3-inch digital instrument display
Perched in the middle of the C-Class’ dashboard is a 10.25-inch widescreen display which, unlike in the old model, is standard across the range. Sadly, while it’s a huge improvement over the rather stingy 8.4-inch unit you used to get, it still can’t quite hold a candle to the likes of the space-age dual-screen display you get in the smaller A-Class.
It’s not particularly intuitive to use, either. Sure, you get a row of shortcut switches on the centre console, but the rotary dial you use to scroll through the various menus is hidden under a large, bulky touchpad. You can, however, use the C-Class’ fairly intelligent voice commands to make phone calls or change the radio station instead.
If you go for an AMG C43 model – or you’re happy to pay extra for the £2,795 Premium Equipment Line pack on lesser models – you get a super-slick 12.3-inch digital driver’s display instead of the standard car’s analogue dials. This screen doesn’t just look fantastic, you can configure it to show a combination of futuristic dials, media playback information and sat-nav directions using the neat touchpads on the steering wheel.
On the subject of music, you can also upgrade the C-Class’ reasonably loud (but not particularly impressive) stereo to a much punchier 590W Burmester unit. Unfortunately, it’s only available as part of the £4,995 Premium Plus pack, but it’s worth considering if you’re a hardcore music fan.