This is the new Mercedes C-class estate that heads freshly into battle with the Audi A4 Avant and BMW 3-series Touring
. It’s bigger, benefits from a lighter and more rigid body and uses less fuel than before.
How big is it?
Compared to the previous C-class, this fourth-generation estate has an 80mm longer wheelbase for 45mm more rear legroom. Mercedes also claims more head-, leg- and elbowroom for rear passengers, and a 45mm increase in length.
There’s less overhang, but more cargo space: 1540 litres in fact. That’s a meager 10 litres more than the old C-class, and compares to the 3-series’ 1500 litres and the 1430 litres offered in the soon-to-be-replaced Audi A4 Avant.
Is there anything special about the tailgate?
Apart from the swoopier profile of the new estate, which isn’t far removed from the outgoing model’s, the C-class – like the BMW 3-series Touring – can be optioned with a hands-free opening tailgate operated by a footswipe under the rear bumper. Expect a lot of C-class owners hopping in supermarket car parks.
There’s also an electric mechanism to fold the rear seats hands-free, which folds them at the push of a button. They’re a 40:20:40 split instead of the old car’s 60:40 arrangement, which gives far more flexibility.
What about up front?
There’s the superb new dash layout with far fewer buttons than the previous generation, with a standard 7.0in centre screen and beautifully sculpted Comand controller. The estate also boasts an evolution of the touchpad as part of the controller, which can be operated via finger gestures.
There’s also optional head-up display, and – for the first time in any Mercedes – ‘connect me’ services, which allow the fuel level, for instance, to be monitored via smartphone. The climate control also has a unique trick: it uses the sat-nav to automatically close the air-vents when travelling through a tunnel. Seriously…
Bluetooth is standard across the range, and there’s loads of safety features including adaptive headlights, speed limit warnings, lane-keeping and auto-braking systems.
There’s also an auto-parking system, and, in addition to the radar cruise control, a ‘Stop&Go’ system that will maintain a ‘safe’ distance between your estate and the car in front in heavy traffic. There’s ‘SteeringAssist’ too – the automated car is getting closer and closer…
You say it's lighter?
The new C-class estate weighs up to 65kg less than its equivalent predecessor. That’s thanks to 49% aluminium content and more extensive use of high-strength steel in the body.
There’s also clever engineering underneath, with fewer suspension components, for example, saving weight as well as cost. There’s a new four-link front-end, which should help precision and compliance, while you’ll be able to option Airmatic air suspension for the first time, too.
So more efficient engines?
At launch, the UK C-class range will be offered with the same three engines as the saloon. That means a 2.0-litre, direct injection four-cylinder petrol engine, developing 179bhp, or a 2.1-litre twin-turbo common-rail diesel in two outputs: 168bhp or 201bhp.
In the saloon, it’s the lower-output diesel that offers the best fuel economy, at 70.6mpg, so it should make the estate far more efficient than the outgoing version’s best of 65.7mpg. Mercedes says that a plug-in hybrid is on the way in 2015, as well as a six-cylinder engine option.
What about an AMG version?
The C63 AMG is legendary, and while the saloon version of the new-generation C-class is yet to be shown, in the previous model it was offered in saloon, estate and coupe versions. A cracker of a car with a NASCAR-like howl, the M3-rival will drop the 6208cc V8 and use the forthcoming twin-turbo, 4.0-litre V8 that will be used in the GT AMG supercar as well.
When does the C-class estate arrive – and what will it cost?
Mercedes is yet to announce pricing, but expect a starting price of around £28,500 when it arrives in UK showrooms later in 2014.
>> Has the C-class estate moved on enough, or has Mercedes played it too safe? Sound off in the comments section below