While the C200d struggles for pace, all other powertrains in the range offer impressively swift performance, including the rev-hungry C200 petrol. The C250d has the edge over the C220d for acceleration, but both models use different versions of the same engine and offer strong acceleration right up to the red line, and the gap in performance doesn’t really justify the C250d’s price premium.
The C300h diesel-electric hybrid turns on the performance when required and reaches 60mph in less than 7.0sec, but can also drive on electric power alone in gentle urban traffic, though its energy-harvesting brakes feel inconsistent under foot. When the diesel engine is required, it chimes in quickly.
Though we’ve yet to drive the C350e petrol-electric plug-in hybrid, its claimed acceleration figures would make it the quickest non-AMG C-Class Estate. If that’s not enough, there’s the rapid C 43, the even faster C 63 and the barmy C 63 S.
Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate ride comfort
While the ‘Agility Control’ comfort suspension that’s standard on SE and Sport models is moderately comfortable, the height-adjustable air suspension pack (standard on the C350e, optional on other models) significantly improves the ride, especially at higher speeds. Both variants can thump around town, though, and the sports suspension on the AMG Line models is firmer still, accentuated by its larger, 18in wheels.
Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate handling
For a decently sized estate car, the C-Class Estate offers reasonable agility, but it’s no match for the comparatively sharp-edged BMW 3 Series Touring. Choose the air suspension and select Sport mode, though, and body control improves significantly. AMG Line models get a keen-handling conventional suspension set-up as standard, but can be also upgraded to air suspension for less of a trade-off in ride quality. However, the variable-ratio steering that comes as standard lacks feel and is inconsistently weighted, unexpectedly lightening up in tighter corners.
Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate refinement
The 2.1-litre diesel engine that powers most C-Class Estates (including the C300h hybrid) is quite clattery at idle, and gets louder and coarser with rising revs. It settles down on a motorway cruise, but in most other situations it is a significant fly in the car’s ointment. The smaller diesel in the C200d is a little better, but the C200 and C350e’s petrol engines sounds thrashy when pushed. There's a mature slickness to both the manual and automatic gearboxes, with the latter fading in to the background when negotiating urban traffic.
There’s some road noise on the motorway, where wind noise generated around the A-pillars can also become intrusive.
The least expensive way into C-Class Estate ownership is via this 181bhp, 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine, which can be ordered with either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed automatic gearbox. Though quieter than the diesel options, this engine isn’t especially smooth for a petrol. It needs to be revved to get the best out of it, but performance is respectable, as is economy.
We haven’t yet tested the petrol-electric C350e, but of the two hybrids available in the C-Class Estate it stacks up best on paper. As a plug-in hybrid, it is able to offer vastly superior economy to the diesel-electric C300h, slashing fuel costs and company car tax liability. Available only with an auto gearbox, it’s also faster than the C300h - and any other C-Class Estate this side of the high-performance C63 AMG - but boot space is significantly compromised due to its more substantial hybrid hardware.
Available with either transmission, the C200d uses a 1.6-litre diesel engine that makes 134bhp. It’s the slowest of the C-Class Estates by some margin, but is more refined than the 2.1 found in the other diesel models. It fails to improve on the economy figures of the C220d, however.
Our pick C220d
Offering the best combination of performance and economy, the C220d is our preferred engine choice in the C-Class Estate. Although it sounds quite coarse at idle and when going through the gears, the engine settles down when cruising on the motorway. It also offers plenty of shove without the need to rev it hard. The C220d engine uses slightly less fuel when paired with the manual gearbox, but the slick automatic transmission is the better choice for comfort.
Using the same 2.1-litre engine as the 220d, the 250d has yet more power, but for the small gain in performance it’s hard to justify the higher fuel consumption, emissions and sticker price. This version is only available with the seven-speed automatic gearbox.
The auto-only C300h uses the diesel engine seen in the C220d and C250d, but this time in parallel with a small electric motor. It can operate in silent, electric-only mode, but it doesn’t take much throttle for the diesel engine to chime in with its familiar industrial growl. The C300h beats the conventional diesels in the range for fuel consumption and emissions, but it’s expensive to buy, and is easily outgunned for both economy and performance by the C350e plug-in hybrid.
Powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6, the four-wheel drive C 43 is quick regardless of the weather conditions, managing 0-62mph in less than 5.0 seconds. It’s also less thirsty than the C 63, but not by a vast amount.
The Mercedes-AMG C 63 gets a 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 petrol engine, producing a mighty 469bhp and 479lb ft of torque. That’s enough to take this C-Class from 0-62mph in a little over four seconds. Running costs are pretty high, though, with average fuel economy unlikely to crack 30mpg and CO2 emissions of nearly 200g/km.
C 63 S
In case the regular Mercedes-AMG C 63 isn’t quite enough for you, Mercedes also offers the ‘S’ variant with more turbo boost pressure. It has a colossal 503bhp and 516lb ft – enough to endow the humble C-Class with performance that will match a supercar’s in all but the most extreme situations. It’s debatable whether you need the extra punch over a regular C 63, though.