4.4 out of 5 4.4
Parkers overall rating: 4.4 out of 5 4.4

Small estate is now posher than ever, especially on the inside

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate (21 on) - rated 4.4 out of 5
Enlarge 14 photos

At a glance

New price £40,525 - £53,865
Used price £25,170 - £43,670
Used monthly cost From £628 per month
Fuel Economy 39.2 - 470.8 mpg
Road tax cost £165 - £520
Insurance group 38 - 47 How much is it to insure?
New

PROS

  • High-class interior
  • Large, unobstructed boot area
  • Comfortable ride

CONS

  • Passenger space still tight
  • Best equipment tied to sportiest spec
  • UK cars have limited trim options

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate rivals

Written by Richard Kilpatrick on

Is the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate any good?

A premium compact estate car really does seem to tick every box. They’re desirable, practical and tend to be very good to drive, especially compared to the SUVs many of them rival.

All of these are very much the case with the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate, now in its sixth generation. The variety of small estate cars is reducing every year, it seems, and in a market filled with rather angular, aggressive styles the C-Class has a quiet elegance that stands out for being subtle.

Although the C-Class is the smallest ‘traditional’ Mercedes, it has become less of a budget option, and more of a compact S-Class. Affordability is achieved not by cutting back what you can have, but by giving less as standard; if you want to pay you can have almost all of the high-tech gadgets offered on the S-Class flagship limousine.

The engine range is all-new, too, and at launch consists of two diesels and a petrol all with mild hybrid technology to boost performance and economy.

We tested this car alongside its saloon sibling, and found that it addressed one major concern we had with that car – space. That makes it very difficult to ignore, even at this early stage – and even against such talented opposition as the BMW 3 Series Touring, Audi A4 Avant, Volvo V60 and Volkswagen Passat Estate.

> Read our Mercedes-Benz C-Class Saloon review here

What’s it like inside?

The interior of the new C-Class is perhaps the biggest departure from the car it replaces, and its biggest advantage over rivals. Mercedes has given it a totally fresh look inspired by its flagship S-Class limousine, replacing the landscape-oriented infotainment screen with a vast, 11.9-inch portrait touchscreen that dominates the car’s centre console.

It’s paired to a 12.9-inch digital instrument display for driving information, and the majority of controls take place either through the infotainment screen or through the touch-sensitive steering wheel buttons.

Though the whole setup looks rather intimidating at first, it’s one of the more intuitive and easy-to-use touchscreen interfaces we’ve come across. And the rest of the cabin has plenty to recommend it too, with sumptuous materials and comfortable seats.

Infotainment and tech

Regardless of which model of C-Class you go for, you’ll spend a lot of your time interacting with that huge central screen. Not only does it deal with sat-nav and media playback, but you’ll also find the car’s climate controls and driving mode selection as well as the general settings menu.

Luckily it’s easier to use than some systems of this kind, helped by the bright, crisp and clear display and the responsive touchscreen. The interface is also very well laid-out for touchscreen operation, while the shallow angle the screen is set at means it feels more like hitting a button than wavering your hand in front of a screen.

One criticism, though, is how this display caught the light in our test model, which was equipped with a panoramic sunroof.

Another is the touch-sensitive steering wheel controls. These do give the wheel plenty of functionality – essential when you’re controlling two sophisticated displays – but they’re not particularly intuitive, and it can take a while to get the hang of sliding your thumbs around on the touchpads in just the right way.

The infotainment system is based around profiles, which you’ll be able to sign into with a fingerprint reader under the screen and tailors the car’s driving modes, navigation destinations and even preferred music or seating position to the person currently driving.

There’s also Mercedes’ own voice assistant, which responds to ‘Hey Mercedes’ and can alter settings or set destinations while on the move.

Wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto are both standard, which means you can keep the car’s interior free of trailing wires. And all UK cars will come standard with a wireless phone charging pad, too, handily tucked away in the centre cubby where you won’t be tempted to glance at it while driving. It’s wide enough to hold the larger iPhones.

How much space is there?

One of our main criticisms of the C-Class saloon was a general lack of passenger space. Though the Estate still isn’t what you’d call palatial, it does improve upon its sister car.

That means that while legroom in the rear still isn’t vast, headroom is acceptable. Four six-foot adults will just about squeeze in, though oddly even the front passenger is compromised on space with a very narrow footwell thanks to that wide centre console.

Boot space has grown from the previous model, which is good – at 490 litres it’s now the same size as the Audi A4 Avant and just 10 litres shy of the BMW 3 Series Touring.

Fold the seats down – which you can do from levers in the boot – and the C-Class liberates 1,510 litres of space, which is more than the A4 and the same as the 3 Series.

Storage up at the pointy end is the same as in the saloon, and it’s pretty good, with a big glovebox, large centre console and deep door bins. The centre cupholders do feel as though they’re set rather deeply, however.

What’s it like to drive?

Satisfying, safe and relaxing, in essence. The standard setup is accomplished, providing tightly controlled roll in corners and predictable handling, yet riding over all but the harshest expansion joints and ripples with a steady, relaxing flow that is comfortable for passengers and driver alike.

Left-hand drive models can be specified with both adaptive suspension and rear-wheel steering, neither of which will be offered for UK buyers – so you might think the C-Class needs that tech to be at its best. In fact, unless you’re determined to have the largest wheels, skinniest tyres and firmest cornering, the entry-level Sport is impressive across a broad range of roads, speeds and driving styles.

Mercedes has also worked on the steering feel, and this is one of the best setups yet for the C-Class. Feedback is consistent, weighting is spot-on, and it’s relaxing on motorways yet able to be threaded through bends with precision and little drama.

All boast mild hybrid technology – this uses a beefier starter motor to add extra power (up to 27hp when you’re at full throttle) and to improve fuel economy and emissions.

Company car buyers and drivers who make a lot of short trips with occasional long motorway runs should consider the, plug-in hybrid. This pairs a petrol engine to an electric motor and large battery pack, and promises more than 62 miles of all-electric range – a really impressive number.

Naturally, Mercedes-AMG offers a version of the C-Class estate. The C 43 AMG features 4Matic all-wheel drive, milk-hybrid technology, rear-wheel steering and adjustable damping as well as a generous standard specification.

The C 200 petrol estate features a 1.5-litre engine, and despite having plenty of power it does feel a bit breathless when moving the bulk of this estate around. It’s very quiet around town but we’d prefer more torque for carrying heavier loads.

Opt for the C 220 d, and the 2.0-litre diesel is quiet and refined here, working in harmony with the nine-speed gearbox for effortless progress and impressive fuel economy. Our mixed test routes, which included fully laden motorway routes and some sort drives, gave over 60mpg without trying. It has enough torque to enjoy the well-controlled handling (which is unusually communicative for a Mercedes) and with Sport’s 17-inch wheels the C 220 d is a satisfying package, balancing grip and comfort very well indeed.

Petrol engines

  • C 200 1.5-litre petrol: 204hp, 300Nm, 0-62mph 7.5s, top speed 149mph
  • C 300 e 2.0-litre petrol plug-in hybrid: 333hp, 320Nm, 0-62mph 6.2s, top speed 149mph

Diesel engines

  • C 220 d 2.0-litre diesel: 200hp, 440Nm, 0-62mph 7.4s, top speed 150mph
  • C 300 d 2.0-litre diesel: 265hp, 550Nm, 0-62mph 5.8s, top speed 155mph

All three engines are paired to the same nine-speed automatic gearbox which provides smooth shifts under most conditions, the C 200 does have a bit of a tendency to thump into a lower gear if you ask for too much acceleration which the torquier diesel avoids.

What models and trims are available?

Trim levels and equipment mirror the saloon. That means four trim levels, and the more words included in the name, the more equipment you get.

Even entry level Sport models come generously equipped – all UK cars have those two enormous screens, heated leather upholstery, blind-spot monitoring and a reversing camera that hides inside the rear badge, ensuring it’s always clean.

AMG Line adds a sporty styling kit and AMG Line Premium has 360-degree cameras, electrically adjustable seats, augmented-reality navigation, keyless go and high-tech adaptive LED headlights.

Top-spec cars are named AMG Line Premium Plus and gain a panoramic sunroof, powerful Burmester stereo, head-up display and music streaming services built into the infotainment. Read our verdict to see if we recommend the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate…

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate rivals

Other Mercedes-Benz C-Class models: