The all-new Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate isn’t the most PetrolBloggy of cars. For a start, it’s too expensive, with prices starting from £28,055, but rising considerably once you’ve selected the right engine and a few must-have accessories. Indeed – based on our experience in Germany this week – you really need the C250 BlueTEC diesel in either Sport or AMG Line trim, by which time the list price has risen beyond £35,000.
In truth, the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate is a bit good, feeling every inch like a fun-size S-Class with a snail house on the back. Take the interior, which makes a mockery of the claims made by the sub-premium brands who have lofty ambitions of taking on the Germans. Yes, the also-rans are improving, but so too is Mercedes-Benz. The interior of the C-Class Estate simply oozes sophistication, quality and opulence. The gulf in class is still there.
It’s not a cheap car. In fact, by the time you’d added some must-have options, the C-Class Estate can quickly become more expensive than the more practical E-Class Estate, A6 Avant and 5 Series Touring.
But that’s missing the point, because for the sheer sense of occasion associated with driving this car, the C-Class Estate is without peers. And for the people of Surrey and Scotland, it’s quite possibly the only premium compact saloon they should buy.
Allow PetrolBlog to explain.
Firstly, the C-Class Estate doesn’t feature just any old air conditioning system. Oh no, this air con is guided by space, making the C-Class the only car in its class with space-age climate control.
What this means is that the C-Class Estate can recognise when the vehicle is about to enter a tunnel, where it will automatically close the air recirculation flap, protecting its occupants from nasty tunnel fumes, gases, particles and Steve Wright in the afternoon. Then, as soon as you’ve exited the tunnel, the flaps open again. Simple. And quite clever.
Sounds like a small thing, but as anyone who has driven through a Swiss tunnel in an open top car will tell you, the pollution can be pretty grim. You only need to touch the end of your nose, in the way that allows you to check your nostrils without actually picking your nose, to discover how black things can be.
Which means that anyone who drives through the Hindhead tunnel in Surrey – which itself is the UK’s longest road tunnel – can enjoy dirt-free nostrils for eternity. Of course, the cheaper way would be to forgo the temptations of the C-Class Estate and stick with your existing car, remembering to shut the recirculation flap for yourself. You know, like in the days when drivers actually thought for themselves.
So that’s the people of Surrey sorted, but what about our friends in Scotland?
Well, a recent survey by the AA – Britain’s fourth best breakdown service, or something – suggested that the roads in Scotland are the worst in Britain, beating Yorkshire and Humberside into an unwelcome second place. In fact, the roads in Scotland are so riddled with potholes and crevises, that one Scot was forced to berate the minister for roads, shouting, “I’ll gie ye a skelpit lug”, before finishing with “do yer dinger”.
But with the C-Class Estate, such frustration and incomprehensible mutterings could be a thing of the past and it’s all thanks to a thing called AirMATIC. Or, to give it it’s full name, AirMATIC Agility Package. Sorry, Mercedes-Benz, but you’ve clearly missed a trick here. You should have called it ‘The Supremely Comfortable, New Benchmark For the Sector, Air Suspension Package’. It really is that good.
At £895 for the upgrade to AirMATIC, it’s roughly the same amount that we tend to spend on complete cars here at PBHQ, but it’s arguably the best optional extra box you’ll ever tick. It offers electronically controlled, continuous variable damping at the front and rear, with the driver able to select between Comfort, Eco, Sport and Sport Plus.
So often, we have to report that we can find no discernible difference between such modes, but in the case of the C-Class Estate, that just isn’t the case. Comfort really means comfort and for once, it would be our default choice, rather than our usual favourite, Sport.
The ride height adjusts automatically to suit the speed and road conditions, lowering the vehicle on motorways to reduce fuel consumption and to ensure safe handling. You can also raise the ride height for speed bumps and to smooth out rough roads.
It works. Like, really works. Potholes, cats eyes and creases in the road are ironed-out, transforming even the harshest roads into a veritable ribbon of velvet. It’s exceptional and works in tandem with the opulent interior to create a sense of occasion unrivalled in the sector. You can buy cheaper, you can buy cars with more space and you can buy sharper driving tools, but the C-Class Estate just has that certain something.
So if you live in Scotland or Surrey, the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate is the new car for you. And as you can see, it looks far better than a crossover or SUV. Premium estate cars rock. Fact.
Alternatively, if you happen to be a PetrolBlog reader from Scotland or Surrey, wait a few years and snap up a bargain C-Class Estate from the classifieds. Just make sure it has the AirMATIC suspension fitted. It’s the best thing since sliced haggis.
The full review of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate will follow on MSN Cars soon.