Wagons - or Estates in Euro speak - have strangely waned in popularity in Australia over recent years. The rush to SUVs has left sedans and wagons buried in the stampede and yet, in Australia at least, a large sedan or wagon still makes a whole lot of sense to the average family buyer.
Wagons aren't always stylish though and that may be part of the problem. The Holden Commodore Sportwagon is a notable exception, although it doesn't set the world on fire in terms of sales. Sportwagon aside, most wagons don't sit at the top of the style pile. That's where the 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate steps in - it's both stylish and practical.
Perhaps the best aspect of the 2015 C-Class Estate range is the extremely reasonable $2500 price premium over the equivalent sedan. At the recent local launch drive, I spent my time in the entry-level C200 Estate, which is powered by a 2.0-litre petrol engine generating 135kW and 300Nm.
Pricing starts at $63,400. Other models in the range push the price out to $72,400, but the most affordable Estate variant also offers the most interesting glimpse into what buyers get for their money. Keep in mind too, that there is no Estate version of the new C-Class Hybrid. That decision seems a little strange to me given the quality of the hybrid drivetrain, but Estate sales in Australia won’t justify that extra engine choice whether we like it or not.
The C 200 engine won't set the world on fire performance wise, but it is perfectly tractable around town and consumes fuel to the frugal tune of an ADR combined claim of 6.2L/100km. The smaller capacity engine might not appeal to every C-Class buyer, but with efficiency that impressive, it is definitely the variant that the smart money is on. My country loop behind the wheel left me convinced that if I was considering the C-Class Estate as a family truckster, I’d be more than happy with the C200 variant.
Across the range, the C-Class Estate now gets a power tailgate, and it's also grown externally compared to the outgoing model. C-Class Estate is now 96mm longer 40mm wider and sits on a wheelbase that is 80mm longer than the model it replaces. The extra bulk is cleverly disguised by the slinky new styling though, so it doesn't look quite as big as it is.
The C-Class states its case as the perfect family vehicle thanks to it’s impeccable safety credentials too. No less than nine airbags keep cabin occupants safe, and there are optional side airbags for the rearmost outer seats. The Mercedes-Benz Blind Spot Assist system is also standard.
The list of standard inclusions is extensive, so take a look at our C-Class pricing and specification breakdown for an easy to digest list of what’s included across the range and various models.
A selection of different driving modes will appeal to the more sporty-minded buyer, but it's the interior space and cabin layout that is the most important weapon in the C-Class Estate's armoury. First of all, despite thin 18-inch 45-profile tyres that are also of the run-flat variety, the C200 cabin is serene. It's quiet at any speed with virtually no annoying road (or wind) noise entering the cabin at all. On coarse chip country roads at 100km/h, the C-Class Estate maintains its composure and all round sense of refinement.
Mercedes-Benz reckons the C 250 grade might be the volume seller, and it gets 19-inch rubber, which we also sampled at launch. Again, the bigger wheels and tyres were just as impressive as the 18s on the C 200. Despite the C 250 being a step further up the ladder, the C 200 still manages to impress in an all round sense.
The second row seating is comfortable enough for adults, even with reasonably long legged occupants up front. However, it’s the way the second row works with the luggage space to accept all manner of larger gear that is it’s biggest trick. The second row seats split 40/20/40 and open up an impressive 1510-litres of storage when they are folded down.
Fold the backs down individually and you still retain seating, but progressively expand the luggage area. In other words, you can reduce the C-Class Estate from a five, to a two-seat vehicle in steps.
I like the switch, located just inside the tailgate opening, that allows you to easily flip the seat backs forward too. It’s positioned handily and means you don’t have to run round to the seats themselves every time you want to liberate some more space.
There’s also an optional handsfree tailgate opening system, which means you simply wave your foot under the bumper after you’ve approached the vehicle - perfect if you have arms full of bags, shopping or gear.
Everyone at CarAdvice has been impressed by the level of fit, finish and attention to detail that is a feature across the C-Class range. The cabin oozes class from every pore, the control systems are designed cleverly and are a cinch to master and you’re left feeling that you’re in a much more expensive vehicle.
The 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class really is as good as we've all been reporting. The addition of an Estate model to the range, with a solid range of engines just adds to its buying appeal.
There’s still tremendous flexibility in the concept of a wagon as the default family car. The fact that the C-Class Estate looks so stylish is simply the icing on a very sophisticated cake.
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