VERDICT: Benz C220 CDI Long Termer

I've never been much chop at goodbyes, so it's likely a blessing that I missed the chance to reacquaint myself with the C-Class Estate before its recent repossession by Mercedes-Benz Australia.

Well, 'repossession' is perhaps a bit harsh but, like the C200K that preceded it, there was barely enough time to empty the C220 CDI's glovebox, following a call from Merc's PR chap (himself an ex-repo man, coincidentally), before the transporter arrived. Moments later, I was waving goodbye to the comfortable and capable gun-metal grey Estate I'd grown so fond of.

It was the C-Class's relative lack of luggage space, something previously alluded to in this column, that parted us for much of the Christmas period. An earlier road trip had revealed the inalienable truth that the Bulmer family and mid-sized wagons part ways when anything beyond a Sunday picnic beckons.

With seven-month-old Isabella still needing her pram and port-a-cot, and the rest of us being the kind of travellers who helped inspire excess luggage fees, we'd have needed a roof pod the size of the space shuttle for our summer driving holiday.

Yet a paucity of luggage space for the big occasions was one of the few flaws I identified in the Estate version of our 2007 Wheels COTY champ. Indeed, over the course of three months and 3000km, which followed two months and 5000km in a C200K, I found few vices but much to admire.

The tight turning circle, good ride and delightful steering remained a source of enjoyment to the very end, as did the performance of both engines. Having initially experienced the smooth, supercharged petrol four, and later the torque-laden turbo-diesel four, I'd happily take either, but do prefer the diesel's driveability.

Importantly, our 8000km test ends with Benz's reputation for quality and reliability intact. Both cars remained drum tight throughout the test and neither even hinted at a problem.

While we all understand that you pay a premium to drive a Mercedes-Benz, it's nice to prove for yourself that it's worth it.
Date acquired: Nov 2008
Kilometres this month: 602
Total kilometres: 3030
Av. fuel consumption: 10.1L/100km
Maintenance: nil

Perhaps it was my inability to get the the diesel Benz anywhere near its ADR81 figure of 6.8L/100km that finally broke the Benz PR man's resolve. Our overall average of 10.1L/100km needs to be seen in the context of predominantly short-hop urban use. Best on test was 8.3L/100km.

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