But why do we favour SUVs over Estate cars? Mercedes-Benz itself admits that our market is style-obsessed and that South Africans view Estate cars as more practical but less desirable than their Saloon equivalents,
So what makes this Estate different?
To start with, it’s more practical featuring an 80mm longer wheelbase versus its predecessor. It’s also 96mm longer and 40mm wider that the car that it replaces. This means more room inside with improved rear leg, head and shoulder room for all occupants.
Can it swallow a chest of drawers?
Very probably. The rear compartment of the Estate provides a maximum load capacity of 1 510 litres with the seats down and 490 litres with the seats in place.The rear seats also have a 40:20:40 split to enhance versatility.
This is pivotal in our market. The Estate must look good and I feel that Mercedes-Benz has done a very good job with this model. After you’ve picked one of the two front-end options (sports grille or luxury grille), the driver is then greeted by a flowing design that extends to the lengthened rear end. The car resembles a shooting-brake and finishes off a far more modern Estate car design that should appeal more to consumers.
The interior is identical to the C-Class Saloon with the familiar touchpad in the centre console, which allows the infotainment and climate control system to be controlled by finger gestures. Visibility is better, thanks to the larger rear windscreen afforded by its Estate proportions.
There is also a head-up display unit, which projects important information such as speed and navigation commands directly into the driver's field of vision. The standard Audio 20 system comes with Bluetooth audio/telephony and is Internet-capable.
Other audio functions include USB/iPod, SD card or CD/DVD. The Comand Online system is also standard and offers features such as live traffic information.
There’s a new oil burner in the range, which also makes its way into the saloon in the form of the 2.2-litre BlueTec turbodiesel motor with 150kW/500Nm on tap, which makes the C 250 diesel good for a 0-100km/h sprint time of 6.9 seconds while consuming 4.5 litres/100km.
The two turbo petrol motors in the range are the 115kW/250Nm 1.6-litre in the C 180 and the 135kW/300Nm 2.0-litre found in the C 200. I had an opportunity to drive the C 200 and C 250 BlueTec at launch and can confirm that both engines work well in this package.
Ride and handling
As with the Saloon, the Estate provides enough dynamic handling qualities combined with a high level of comfort to make it a great compromise. There are two suspensions on offer, namely the standard-specification steel suspension and the Airmatic air suspension.
Safety comes standard
The Estate is fitted as standard with Attention Assist, which can warn the driver of inattentiveness and drowsiness. There’s also the Collision Prevention Assist Plus system, which warns of an imminent collision and applies the adaptive Brake Assist system to help stop the vehicle.There are several airbags which include thorax/pelvis side bags for driver and front passenger, a window bag and a knee bag.
I feel that Mercedes-Benz has done enough with this car to make it appeal to our style and performance-obsessed market. The problem I see is that I also said this about the CLS Shooting-brake last year and that sold terribly. The base price is tempting, however, those options can inflate the price dramatically.
Warranty and maintenance
The C-Class Estate comes standard with a six-year/100 000km PremiumDrive maintenance plan, with no customer contribution.
|C 180 Estate||R447 600|
|C 200 Estate||R468 300|
|C 250 BlueTec Estate||R558 400|