We hop behind the wheel of the impressive Mercedes-Benz C-Class in its top-spec, four-cylinder form.
Mercedes-Benz vehicles of yesteryear were always known for their style and presence, but, in recent years, this trait hasn't been as quite as prevalent. That is, until the release of this car, the 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class, seen here in C250 Estate trim.
While it’s impossible to mistake this car for anything other than a C-Class, more than a few S-Class styling cues flow throughout the body and make it pop when mixed with its comparatively pedestrian-looking opposition.
Priced from $60,900 plus on-road costs for the C200 sedan, the C250 Estate being tested is priced from $71,400, with Estate variants commanding a $2900 premium over their sedan siblings. The pricing undercuts the BMW 3 Series wagon range, but can’t match the more affordable Audi A4 Avant.
From the outside, the new C-Class features smooth and flowing lines that run from the proud three-point star around the embossed side beltline and to a neatly concealed boot cavity.
The side profile of the C-Class Estate uses lashings of chrome around the windows and along the roof rails, giving it a premium feel well beyond its price tag.
Our test vehicle was also fitted with the AMG Line package that adds meaty 19-inch alloy wheels, AMG body styling, sports suspension and cross-drilled rotors. This package gives the car added presence on the road and draws a link to its super-fast Mercedes-AMG C63S sibling.
While the exterior looks impressive, the interior is the C-Class’s trump card. The stunning interior looks and feels premium enough to belong to a car double or triple its asking price.
Black ash wood inlays surround the driver and front passenger, while a large 7.0-inch colour screen sits atop the dashboard and displays the latest iteration of COMAND, Mercedes-Benz’s infotainment system.
Despite being a considerable improvement on the last COMAND infotainment system, it’s still hard to use and for the most part quite counter-intuitive. The voice commands for navigation and system shortcuts are excellent, but are hampered by a clumsy iDrive-esque rotary controller.
Usability issues aside, the 13-speaker sound system fitted as part of the optional ($2300) COMAND package is sensational. It offers plenty of bass and very clear high frequencies. It stands out most when teamed with digital radio or an audio stream from an attached device.
The new C-Class is also the first Mercedes-Benz vehicle to feature a heads-up display. The clear and concise display helps with setting and varying cruise control, and reading navigation instructions.
Another feature that worked quite well was the voice recognition system. The driver can read out full street addresses and the system can deconstruct this to find an exact address to enter into navigation.
One more great feature worth mentioning is the LED headlight system with automatic high beam lights. Unlike conventional high beams that either switch on or off in their entirety, the C-Class is able to shut down segments of the headlights to avoid dazzling other drivers.
The system works by watching the road ahead and detecting either oncoming traffic or traffic ahead of you. It then tailors the beam to avoid contact with other vehicles on the road. It works remarkably well and is especially handy on country roads where it can light up the sides of the road without affecting other drivers.
Up the front, leg and headroom is excellent. The door-mounted seat controls help remove the gap between the side of the seat and the door, offering a wider seating aperture.
Back a row, the leg and headroom on offer is good. While it can feel a little bit cramped with the driver’s seat pushed back, it is still cavernous enough to sit two large adults abreast. The seats are very comfortable and visibility out the sides is a good — often something to consider if you are carting kids around.
Being a station wagon, you get the added benefit of a usable boot space. On offer is 490 litres of cargo capacity (that’s measured up to the cargo cover), which expands to 1510 litres when the second row is folded away.
Under the bonnet, the C250 Estate boasts a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine that produces 155kW of power and 350Nm of torque. That combination helps it move from 0-100km/h in a spritely 6.8 seconds, partly thanks to its slick-shifting seven-speed automatic gearbox.
Under throttle the engine feels like a bit of a firecracker. It doesn’t feel effortless like a bigger six- or eight-cylinder engine does, so there is an element of sharp response at times when only a subtle wave of torque would be needed.
That works well when you want to get away in a hurry, but can feel awkward at times if you only want half of its full complement of torque. It’s not bad, it could just be a bit more progressive.
This aside, the steering feels wonderful and the crafted AMG steering wheel sits nicely in the hand. The electrically assisted steering allows for effortless steering around town and weightier steering feel in the vehicle’s sport modes.
Speaking of which, the driver can move between comfort and sport modes with the highest sport setting offering a combination of heavier steering and a (much) firmer ride. This setting also offers the most aggressive shift pattern.
The ride is quite firm around town. Even in the comfort setting the larger 19-inch AMG Line wheels and lowered sports suspension jar the ride and can unsettle the car during cornering.
The looks of the AMG Line can be paired with Mercedes-Benz’s AIRMATIC air suspension, which would help even out the ride and prevent the jarring thuds you can sometimes get with the standard AMG Line package.
That being said, the AMG Line package helps the C250 Estate hunker down and sit dead flat through corners. This coupled with the direct steering makes this quite a sporty station wagon. If you didn’t want to spend the extra money on a C63S Estate, this would be a great compromise.
During driving visibility is excellent out the front, rear and sides. This extends to parking where front and rear parking sensors work in unison with an above-view camera to provide excellent visibility.
Despite the popularity of station wagons tapering off, impressive packages like the Mercedes-Benz C-Class that blend style, practicality and performance make the wagon an appealing concept for buyers turned off by high-riding SUVs.
The all-new Mercedes-Benz C-Class is hard to fault, especially when it’s finished with a neat and sporty styling package like the one seen here. While I have convinced my other half that a C250 Estate would be a compelling purchase, I’m not sure I could push the argument for the C63S — I will try, though.
Click on the Photos tab to see more images of the Mercedes-Benz C250 Estate by Tom Fraser.