We drive the new Mercedes C-Class Estate on Aussie turf for the first time
WHAT IS IT:
The C200 is the entry-level model, the cheapest way into the C-Class Estate
WHY WE'RE TESTING IT:
The W205 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate brings with it the massive improvements that the sedan delivered; a longer wheelbase, shorter overhangs, less weight and smarter packaging than before. The new Estate dazzles with the brilliant cabin, looks arguably better than the sedan and boasts 10 litres more space than its predecessor.
BMW 3 Series Touring, Audi A4 Avant, Jaguar XF Sportwagon
THE WHEELS VERDICT:
The C200 is a competent, value-packed Estate that offers class-leading space, cabin quality and equipment
PLUS: Space, cabin, and wagon form is even more practical
MINUS: Steering and chassis mis-matched; BlueTec diesel only $1K more
THE WHEELS REVIEW:
THE Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate is up against the BMW 3 Series Touring but if the sedan is anything to go by, the Benz is set to impress with its superb class-leading dynamics, stunning cabin design and improvements in efficiency. The Audi A4 Avant stacks up well but the new C-Class Estate makes its opposition not only look but feel positively outdated.
This C200 is the new base-model wagon, priced from $63,400 – a $2500 premium over the C200 sedan. That gets you the same level of equipment, including 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlamps, artificial leather upholstery and sat-nav as standard. On top of this, the new estate has the same 2840mm wheelbase (80mm longer than its predecessor) as the sedan, and uses more aluminium body panels and smarter packaging in places where it counts, such as fewer suspension components to save weight, complexity and cost.
In terms of space, the C200 Estate offers 510 litres with the rear seats up, and 1510 overall with them folded flat. That's only 10 litres more than its predecessor, but also tops the BMW 3 Series Touring by 10 litres and the A4 Avant by useful 80 litres. The C200 Estate offers a low loading lip and flat cargo area, and with its seats now a 40:20:40 split, the space is effective and useable too.
On the road, the C200 is impressive. The same 1991cc turbocharged direct-injection four-cylinder makes 135kW, but its 300Nm from a lowly 1200rpm through to 4000rpm means it has enough torque to cover ground quickly and punch holes in traffic. The 7.5sec 0-100km/h claim is competitive – and only 0.2sec slower than the C200 sedan, which is 60kg lighter. It's not a performance car, of course, and you need to plan your overtakes but the C200's throttle is responsive and the seven-speed automatic’s changes are generally smooth enough for country-road passes. Kickdown can be a little slow, and its punch is more competent than brawny, but it has a solid athletic ability for an entry-level wagon.
From the excellent driving position, all-’round visibility is good, and the ride is on the softer side, which means that the C200 can take a while to come back to earth over larger bumps. Still, there’s only a meagre amount of roll around corners and it remains composed, with excellent roadholding – you’ll hear the tyres squeal if you push, but that softer ride feels out-of-sync with the steering.
The perfectly sized three-spoke steering wheel transmits a slightly lightweight feel in the default Comfort mode; it’s noticeably weightier in Sports and Sports Plus and becomes responsive and accurate, making it easy to place the C-Class on the road. Yet the C200 Estate’s compliance means it falls into holes, ruts and channels and needs too much input to feel composed on long corners, for instance.
When parking, however, the crisp rear camera and Comfort mode steering make tight spots easy for a car this large.
The C200 Estate is superb value, and offers a premium feel despite being an entry-level model. It doesn’t feel half-done, undercooked or lacking, and offers a competent if not complete driving experience in a practical, stylish package. Yet it’s difficult to sign up for the C200 Estate when, for only $1000 more, the C200 BlueTec uses less fuel (4.3L/100km EU). The C250 Estate offers more power, plus ‘hands-free’ boot access and the same 6.2L/100km claimed fuel consumption, yet that’s $8K on top of the C200. This model may instead be an alternative to larger, cheaper SUVs or wagons for buyers wanting some sparkle in their garage.
Model: Mercedes-Benz C200 Estate
Engine: 1991cc 4-cyl, dohc, 16v, turbo
Max power: 135kW @ 5500rpm
Max torque: 300Nm @ 1200-4000rpm
Transmission: 7-speed automatic
Fuel economy: 6.2L/100km (EU)
On sale: Now
OR TRY THESE:
BMW 318i Touring
Audi A4 Avant 1.8 TFSI
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