Review: Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate (2014)
Fantastic depth of quality. Lovely cabin ambience and improved interior space. Very refined, quiet and composed – even the four-cylinder diesels.
No 4Matic four-wheel drive models for the UK. Expensive options required to get the best from it. Only a minor luggage space improvement. Unintuitive infotainment interface.
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Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate (2014): At A Glance
- New prices start from £30,240, brokers can source from £23,397
- Contract hire deals from £285.72 per month
- Insurance Groups are between 24–48
- On average it achieves 66% of the official MPG figure
Despite the proliferation of SUV-based niche cars designed to appeal to young buyers with a ‘lifestyle’, Mercedes-Benz has no good reason to veer away from tradition with the new C-Class Estate – last year its predecessor sold like bicycles during Tour de France week, even at the end of its life.
That happened even though the last C-Class Estate was some distance from the best-in-class BMW 3 Series Touring. This has given Mercedes-Benz confidence enough to avoid radicalising the all-new C-Class Estate – to get back to basics and ask itself what really makes an upwardly mobile person want a Mercedes-Benz estate car.
The answer is a beautiful blend of traditional indulgence, iPad-generation modernity and space. And it really is that simple. Mercedes-Benz has made a two-box car, filled it with leather, fitted a tablet PC to the dash, and garnished the whole thing with brushed steel, gloss black and wood veneer. It’s a John Lewis living room display on wheels.
If that sounds disparaging, that’s not the intention – the overarching ambience of this car is that of a ‘proper’ Mercedes-Benz estate. For various reasons the last couple of C-Class models didn’t really nail that ambience, but it’s very clear, very quickly, that this C-Class takes much of its inspiration from the S-Class, which is high praise.
This new C-Class Estate is defined by its refinement, its cabin flair, the depth of quality of the surfaces, and the apparent thought that’s gone into the design. Mercedes-Benz hasn’t tried to make it a BMW either, so while it’s perfectly good at the more dynamic stuff (rear-wheel drive, weighty steering and a brilliantly unobtrusive seven-speed automatic gearbox), it’s actually a lot better when its gently going about its business – when it’s ‘wafting along’, to coin a cliché that Mercedes-Benz owners the world over used to use.
It’s not perfect, of course – there’s quite a bit of road and tyre noise at motorway speeds, and the extra 10 litres of maximum boot space is probably not as much as you might expect given the increase in dimensions. But really, these are footnotes in a story that’s largely excellent. Is it better than the 3 Series Touring? That depends what you want, but the important thing is, it no longer sails so close to its German nemesis. Instead, it treads its own path, gently. Like a Mercedes-Benz should.
What does a Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate (2014) cost?
Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate (2014): What's It Like Inside?
All cars get an iPad-like infotainment screen on the dash top and there’s a symmetrical coherence to the design that makes sitting in the C-Class a real joy. It can take a little while to get used to the media interface, with its unconventional flourishes like a volume roller switch embedded into the centre console, but it’s a price worth paying, probably, for such relative minimalism.
Mercedes-Benz hasn’t forgotten that the C-Class Estate is an estate. The standard 40/20/40 split rear bench is a skier’s delight, the massive glove box is more of a glove wholesaler’s unit and the boot floor not only sits flush with the loading lip, but conceals a rather large space underneath. And if you’re willing to pay for the privilege, you can blip the flat-folding rear bench down remotely using your key. Oh, and you can download an app that lets you check how much fuel you have left from the comfort of your own throne.
But given the growth of the C-Class in all directions relative to its predecessor, there isn’t actually that much more outright luggage space – the maximum 1510-litre capacity is only 10 litres more than the outgoing car offered. And, as it happens, it’s exactly the same as the space in the back of a BMW 3 Series Touring.
It seems that most of the effort has gone into additional cabin room and although from the front the car does have an ever-so-slightly compact feel (the roofline is quite low, especially with the sunroof option), there’s an appreciable improvement in rear leg room - 40mm more. If that doesn’t seem all that much, if you’re a six foot dad (or mum), it’s the difference between your teenager’s knee being embedded into the back of your chair, or not.
All cars come with leather upholstery as standard, so it’s the material choices further up the eye line that distinguish pricier C-Class models from the cheaper ones. In lesser models, wood veneers adorn the door cards and house the infotainment buttons, though those worried about the harrowing sight of incongruous brown strips needn’t – unlike the Japanese Mercedes, the actual Mercedes-Benz knows how to integrate wood nicely into a car.
Admittedly better looking, however, is the brushed steel-effect and gloss black trim of AMG Line models, which get a stitched leather dash top too. The trim structure matches that of the C-Class saloon, unsurprisingly, which means SE, Sport and AMG Line specifications.
SE cars get 16-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, a full colour multimedia system with touchpad interface (and very clear the screen is, too), DAB digital radio, agility control, comfort suspension, reversing camera, rain sensitive wipers, collision prevention assist plus, cruise control with hold function and tyre pressure monitoring.
Sport trim adds 17-inch alloys, exterior chrome trim, aluminium interior trim with contrasting stitching, heated front sports seats, LED high-performance headlights, 15mm lowered comfort suspension, Active Park Assist, and satellite navigation to go with your lovely infotainment screen.
AMG Line trim gets wheels another inch bigger, an AMG body styling kit, AMG floor mats, AMG sports pedals, AMG leather sports seats, AMG sports steering wheel, black roof lining, a speed-sensitive adaptable steering system, lowered sports suspension (by 15mm) and gearshift paddles with automatic gearbox models.
Child seats that fit a Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate (2014)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate (2014) like to drive?
- Engines range from C 200 1.5 4Matic Automatic to AMG C 63 S
- Readers report Real MPG to be between 21–63 mpg
The new C-Class Estate is available with adaptive air suspension as an £895 option. It's a first in this class and there's plenty of distinction between its Eco, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ modes.
It doesn’t entirely define the driving experience though, the C-Class seems more suited to Comfort mode, with its more supple damper settings, lighter steering and shorter gear changes. But even in Sport, it’s the fuss-free cabin ambience, quiet engine note and well-judged seating position that really combine to make this car feel special.
From launch there are engines familiar from the C-Class saloon - the C220 BlueTec and C250 BlueTec diesels plus the C200 petrol. A C300 Hybrid and the new C200 BlueTec, powered by a 1.6-litre Renault engine, joined the line-up at the end of 2014.
The C250 BlueTec diesel is the stand out engine, especially when fitted with the seven-speed 7G-Tronic Plus automatic gearbox. It's powered by a 2.1-litre diesel - the same engine that's used in the C220 BlueTec and the C300 Hybrid.
With 500Nm from just 1600rpm, it pulls away strongly and will get the C-Class Estate from 0 to 62mph in 6.9 seconds. However, it’s refinement rather than speed that defines this engine – for a relatively small capacity four-cylinder diesel, its lack of grumble is palliative.
That quality is amplified, so to speak, in the C300 BlueTec Hybrid. It’s quite amazing that an electric motor (allowing a few miles of electric-only power in certain circumstances), a four-pot diesel and a seven-speed automatic can come together to create such a smooth, quiet, quick and astoundingly economical car – it only emits 99g/km of CO2.
A good chunk of the C-Class' economy gains were won in the wind tunnel and via extensive aluminium use in the chassis – just under half of the platform is made from the lightweight metal, helping make the new car up to 65kg lighter than its forebear. That’s about ten stone in old money.
But while the drivetrain might be the stuff of well-honed hush, the by-product is a perceived uplift in noise from elsewhere – most notably tyre rumble and wind whistle on the motorway. At higher speeds, this conspires to shatter the S-Class illusion that this medium-sized estate is good at creating at lower speeds and plants it back into rep-mobile territory.
And actually, while we’ve tried and liked the lower powered drivetrains of the C-Class Saloon – the new 1.6-litre diesel is especially good – it’s probably true to say that a low end C-Class Estate, with few options, diminished power and a manual gearbox, will not satisfy as much as a basic BMW 3 Series Touring does - the C-Class Estate is best enjoyed at the higher end of the model range.
Equipped with the quick-shifting and responsive 7G-Tronic Plus gearbox and sat behind a leather, stitched dashboard (standard on AMG Line cars) on top of a heated-or-cooled sports seat (optional) and with the optional AirMATIC suspension set in Comfort mode while staring into an optional head-up display (£825), the C-Class Estate feels a class above. A C180 manual won’t shine in the same way.
|AMG C 43||30–35 mpg||4.8 s||185–220 g/km|
|AMG C 63||28–34 mpg||4.1–4.2 s||196–228 g/km|
|AMG C 63 S||28–34 mpg||4.1 s||196–229 g/km|
|C 180||46–47 mpg||8.4 s||136–140 g/km|
|C 180 Automatic||42–44 mpg||8.5 s||147–152 g/km|
|C 200 1.5 4Matic Automatic||42 mpg||8.4 s||153 g/km|
|C 200 1.5 Automatic||44–46 mpg||7.9 s||142–147 g/km|
|C 200 2.0||50–51 mpg||7.7 s||128 g/km|
|C 200 2.0 4Matic Automatic||40–41 mpg||7.6 s||152–159 g/km|
|C 200 2.0 Automatic||48–51 mpg||7.3–7.5 s||128–133 g/km|
|C 200 2.0 d||66 mpg||10.1 s||112 g/km|
|C 200 d 1.6||61–67 mpg||8.7–10.1 s||110–115 g/km|
|C 200 d 1.6 Automatic||61–66 mpg||8.2–10.6 s||114–119 g/km|
|C 220 d 2.0 4Matic Automatic||57 mpg||7.4 s||132–133 g/km|
|C 220 d 2.0 Automatic||59–60 mpg||7.0 s||119–128 g/km|
|C 220 d 2.1||63–67 mpg||7.9 s||109–115 g/km|
|C 220 d 2.1 4Matic Automatic||58–60 mpg||7.7 s||124–129 g/km|
|C 220 d 2.1 Automatic||60–64 mpg||7.5–7.6 s||114–120 g/km|
|C 250 d 2.1 4Matic Automatic||58–60 mpg||7.0 s||124–129 g/km|
|C 250 d 2.1 Automatic||59–63 mpg||6.9 s||117–123 g/km|
|C 300 Automatic||42–43 mpg||6.0 s||143–155 g/km|
|C 300 d 4Matic Automatic||53 mpg||6.0 s||141 g/km|
|C 300 d Automatic||57 mpg||6.0 s||132–133 g/km|
|C 300 de Automatic||-||-||39–42 g/km|
|C 300 h||69–74 mpg||6.7 s||100 g/km|
|C 350 e||-||6.2 s||49–53 g/km|
Real MPG average for a Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate (2014)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
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