Put simply: you'll love it
Although the same-again styling might be lost on some, it's hard not to be impressed by the latest Mercedes-Benz C-Class estate's improved fuel economy and meaner emissions.
Equipment levels and the provision of safety gear have also been boosted. Better than a BMW 3 Series Touring? In most scenarios, yes. For C-Class estate customers, the mainstream engine choice comprises four cylinder petrol and diesel units.
There are two direct injection petrol powerplants comprising a new 154PS 1.6-litre BlueEFFICIENCY unit (in the C180), plus a 204PS version of this engine (badged C250). Then there are the 2.1-litre diesel powerplants. Choose from either 136PS (C200 CDI), 170PS (C220 CDI) or 204PS (C250 CDI) or 265PS (C350 CDI), depending on your performance requirements. At the top of the range is the 457PS C63. The C-Class has never enjoyed a reputation as a top-drawer drive, thanks largely to unimpressive steering and some coarse engines, and although only the C350 offers a truly silky feel, the rest of the engines are these days a good deal more refined and the steering and suspension packages are much improved.
The steering is accurate without offering heaps of feedback, but its taciturn nature calms the experience at the wheel over the sort of poor surfaces and unruly cambers that affect the typical British B-road.
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Particular attention has been paid to further finessing the automatic gearbox and all automatic versions get the 7G-TRONIC PLUS seven-speed box which has been tuned to improve fuel efficiency across the range.
Despite being a good deal more economical than before, performance hasn't been sacrificed and even the base diesel C200 CDI feels agreeably spry, sprinting from rest to 60mph in a mere 8.9 seconds.
The C-Class estate is an undeniably handsome thing, with a purposeful slash on its flanks that rises from halfway up the front wheel arch to fade into the top of the rear light cluster. The lights, grille and bonnet were all revised during the 2011 mid-term facelift, as was the cabin. Here you'll find a restyled dashboard with an integrated screen and higher quality materials.
A large section of galvanised trim extends from the centre air vents across the front passenger side to the outer air vent, Mercedes listening to feedback from CLS owners highlighting their appreciation of bold interior design themes.
The brief for this improved Mercedes C-Class estate couldn't have been clearer. Beef up the specification and make big improvements to economy and efficiency.
Judged by those criteria, the car is an undeniable success, even though it's a car that's been developed against a backdrop of ever improving rivals. Yes, the new BMW 3 Series Touring and the improved Audi A4 Avant both represent strong competition, but this C-Class does more than enough to keep itself in the game here.
There's still something just that bit more classy about this practical package. You'd like one: simple as that.