We use cookies on whatcar.com to improve your browsing experience and to provide you with relevant content and advertising, by continuing to use our site you agree to this. Please see our privacy policy for more details. Continue

What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For The C-Class is practical, stylish, reliable, great to drive and well equipped

Against It's expensive, and many dislike the foot-operated parking brake

Verdict Very satisfying to own and to drive, but not as roomy as its predecessor

Go for… C180 Kompressor Classic SE

Avoid… You'll need big pockets for any C350

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate
  • 1. Fold down the rear seats and the boot capacity stretches to an impressive 1384 litres
  • 2. There are widespread reports of problems with the electronics and software
  • 3. The car's basically sound, but you should keep an ear out for odd noises from the suspension
  • 4. There's no shortage of choice, but the C180K with Classic or Classic SE trim is the pick of the range
  • 5. The C-Class estate is everything you could want - practical and good to drive
advertisement

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate full review with expert trade views

It's more lifestyle than worker estate, but it's still extremely practical with a handy 470-litre luggage bay. Drop the rear bench and that stretches to 1384 litres - almost identical to the BMW 3 Series Touring's and roomier than the Audi A4 Avant's.

The range of petrol and diesel engines provide good mid-range pull, from the supercharged C180K petrol and C200 CDI diesel up to the C350 (or rare, expensive and hairy C55 AMG) petrols and C320 CDI diesels.

All have a sensibly equipped cabin, with simple controls, a good driving position, plenty of storage areas and mostly good-quality materials. Two can sit in comfort in the back, but the raised transmission tunnel in the floor makes it cramped for three.

Drivers will like it, though. It's far crisper and more agile than the previous C-Class estate through the bends, but it's also excellent at smothering bumps, sealing out external noise and tackling long-distance drives.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Petrol values in retreat, spec crucial, C220 CDI Avantgarde Auto perfect

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Cars with the manual gearbox will be significantly cheaper, but spend more to get an automatic if you can. They're smooth to drive (the manuals are notchy), make the foot-operated parking brake less of a hassle and will hold their value better.

We'd choose a C180K ('K' for Kompressor, meaning supercharged in German), with Classic or Classic SE trim. It offers the best value: enough performance for most needs, decent fuel economy, and it's the cheapest to buy.

The C200 CDI and C220 CDI turbodiesels are refined and frugal, but you'll need to stump up a fair bit more to get the keys.

The C200K, C230K and C240 petrols are strong, too, while the bigger-engined versions (C280, C320 and C350 petrols and C320 CDI diesel) are swift and sweet if you've got enough cash to run them. There's also the ultimate C-class, the high-performance C55 AMG: bruising in every sense.

Classic is the basic trim, rising through Elegance and Avantgarde to top-trim Sport. 'SE' denotes extra kit on each level.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

A reliable used car, but watch for electrical and suspension problems

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct

Prices for the C-Class estate aren't over-the-top by Mercedes' standards, but they're not cheap. The purchase price - even on older cars - will put a big dent in your bank balance.

However, you'll get a good proportion of that back once you resell it, because the C-Class holds its value very well. That makes the overall cost of ownership far lower than it may appear when you're buying it.

Servicing costs are high, but not outrageous - noticeably dearer than an A4 Avant, fractionally more than a 3 Series Touring. Leave the Mercedes dealer network, though, and you should slash the labour bill by almost half, according to Warranty Direct.

Insurance ranges from a reasonable group 12 for our favourite, the C180K, to 17 for the hot diesel and petrol models. Fuel economy is reasonable, too: mid-30s to the gallon for the C180k and about 40mpg for the diesels. The C350s hit you for mid-20s, though.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Petrol values in retreat, spec crucial, C220 CDI Avantgarde Auto perfect

James Ruppert
Used car guru

A full service history is essential. It will ensure a better price when you resell the car, and you can also be sure that a well maintained C-Class estate will give you little, if any, trouble.

These are generally robust cars. Anyone who says Mercs aren't built like they used to be may be right, but they're still well screwed together using durable materials and proven engineering.

Witness our Reliability Survey findings, where the C-Class nets a place in the top quarter of the table. The JD Power customer satisfaction survey also echoes the general reliability of the C-Class - it's better than the bigger E-Class, for instance.

Even so, problems with the electronics and software are reportedly quite widespread, alternators can fail, some automatic gearboxes are trouble-prone and you should keep an ear out for odd noises from the suspension.

On most cars, these faults will have been (or, if you're buying newer, will be) sorted by Mercedes' three-year unlimited-mileage warranty.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

A reliable used car, but watch for electrical and suspension problems

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct
Haymarket Logo What Car? is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media
What Car? is part of Haymarket Motoring
© Haymarket Media Group 2014