Used Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate 1993 - 2001 review

Category: Estate car

C-Class makes a better estate car than most compact executives

      Used Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate 1993 - 2001 review
      Star rating

      What's the used Mercedes C-Class estate like?

      The estate version of the C-Class came out in 1996, a full three years after the saloon, and it seems that the time was spent making sure that the boot was designed properly. Unlike most compact executive-based estates, the C-Class is a genuinely spacious and practical load-lugger.

      It's just as roomy in the cabin, too. The head, leg and shoulder room is better than any similar car of the day, and only an uncomfortable centre rear seat stops it being a roomy five-seater.


      C-Class makes a better estate car than most compact executives

      • Comfortable, refined and classy
      • but a decent workhorse
      • too
      • It's not as much fun to drive as a 3 Series, and it's only comfortable for four

      Solid all-round build quality is accompanied by very good reliability, and Mercedes of this age can go way past the 100,000-mile mark. What's more, provided it's in good nick, even a C-Class of this age will give the prestige impression Mercedes is famous for.

      Granted, it isn't as good to drive as a BMW 3-Series, but excellent refinement and a ride that stays smooth on any surface make this a very capable cruiser.

      Ownership cost

      What used Mercedes C-Class estate will I get for my budget?

      How much does it cost to run a Mercedes C-Class estate?

      Early cars cost only a couple of grand, but that will only get you a high-mileage car in basic trim without air-con. So, it's worth paying more if you can, and £5000 should buy a clean, reliable example with a good amount of kit.

      On any car, choose an automatic version, even though they cost around £650 more than the standard manual.

      Insurance costs are mostly reasonable. The mainstream models range from group 11 to group 15, while the AMG model is in a frankly daft group 19. Stick to our favourite engine, and you'll get a very fair group 12 rating.

      Fuel economy isn't terrific, and doesn't compare well with the equivalent 3 Series. No car in the range will beat 40mpg, except the later C220 CDIs (45.6mpg), but remember they're dearer to buy in the first place. The older 2.5 diesel manages 37mpg. Our favourite C200 gives 30.1mpg - a fraction thirstier than the most frugal petrol engine.

      Our recommendations

      Which used Mercedes C-Class estate should I buy?

      The C180 (1.8 petrol) and C200 (2.0 petrol) are the most common, and very affordable to buy and run. Overall, we prefer the C200, as its fuel economy doesn't suffer too much from the extra performance.

      The C230 (2.3 petrol), C240 (2.4 or 2.6 V6), C280 (2.8 V6) and the supercharged C230K (also 2.3 petrol) are all good, but none of the mainstream C-Class estates are especially quick. The hot AMG (4.3 V8) version is a different matter, but it's extortionately expensive to buy and run.

      The C250 TD (2.5-litre five-cylinder diesel) gives decent fuel economy and performance, bearing in mind it's old technology. A direct-injection 125bhp 2.2-litre C220 was introduced in February 1999, and a common-rail version in March 2000 - these are more refined and economical, but harder to find and more expensive.

      No trim is particularly well-stocked, but Elegance provides the best balance of kit and cost. And, if you can, find a car with an automatic gearbox - the standard manual is notchy.


      What alternatives should I consider to a used Mercedes C-Class estate?