It’s like actually being your parents, driving the new 2015 Mercedes C-class Estate. You waft along in a slipper-wearing, wine at five, mortgage paid-off mood and it’s as if that nasty modern world of social media crucifixtion, lack of pensions and trying to be somebody you’re not doesn’t even exist.
Basically, Mercedes has nailed the genteel estate, as it is wont to do. The E-class is the best load-lugger, if a little lacking in airs and graces, but the new C-class is better still, making you wonder why you would ever need an SUV, crossover, command-seated hatch-coupe or whatever the latest fad is.
Launched without a lantern-jawed windsurfer or lissome lycra-sprayed jogger in sight, what you get is reassuringly old-fashioned, done exceedingly well. Longer than its predecessor by nearly 10cm, wider by four (but with considerably more shoulder room internally to the point it feels like a size above a 3-series) but with only 10 litres more loadspace in the all-important boot, the C-class estate is still a car everybody could find a job for.
Mercedes-Benz C-class Estate (2015) design
On to something as vacuous as looks, and at last Mercedes has worked out its thing after a decade of trying: it tried blobby, it tried square, and neither really gave it a distinctive go-to look as BMW or Audi have. But now the lines are sleek, sharp and with plenty of energy. And this car looks great, with wide shoulders right through to the rear hips and a long, slingy glasshouse. Such is the basic strength of the design that it looks suitably conservative in basic middle England SE spec with tall tyres, ‘artico’ leather (vinyl to you and me) and gunsight bonnet star, yet sleek and sexy for £1495 more in AMG Line with 18-inch alloys, chrome splitter and bazooka exhausts.
In the cabin, aside from that weird screen perched on the dash that scrotes think is an iPad and want to nick, it is of the highest quality – straight out of an S-class ,with switches that cant heftily, and smooth Scandinavian wood schemes butted tightly against slivers of brushed aluminium.
Oddly though, the steering wheel had a pronounced offset in our left hand-drive test cars, and we couldn’t quite fathom the handrest/controller from the S-class that marshals the infotainment. It offers a bewildering number of ways to confuse you, piling pokes and dabs on turns and swipes. It’s like doing a mini-macarena with one hand most of the time.
More practically, the rear seats tumble in three parts, allowing long things to be pushed through, while the bootlid is powered and can be opened with a wave of your foot when arms are full.
Click here for Mercedes C-class Estate prices and specs.
Mercedes C250 Bluetec and C300 Bluetec Hybrid estates review
We tried both C250 Bluetec diesel and C300 Bluetec Hybrid and the most striking thing is how the incessant rattly splurge of Merc diesels has finally been quashed. The 250 would appear to be a great mid-market choice, offering enough pace with 60mpg-plus and decent shove, but the diesel hybrid is the star. Mercedes is streaking ahead of the competition and 99g/km with 226bhp is hard to beat because it is almost as refined and seamless as when installed in the S-class. The way the engine dies barely a second after you lift off and then re-starts when you apply power, with no vibration, is remarkable. It just sails merrily on.
In terms of handling though, the Estate is fairly pedestrian. The front suspension is decoupled from the spring strut for a better ride, and the rear end comes with the £895 option of air for carrying especially heavy dogs and garden ornaments, but it’s just not a car that wants to be rushed. High speed, smoothly steered corners are its thing rather than chucked-in foolishness. Even the Sport setting on the Agility Select system doesn’t offer much more than a firmer edge to the pliant ride.
Mercedes launched the new 2014 C-class estate in a place called Deidesheim which is apparently the party capital of Germany (where Helmut Kohl used to take Thatch to try and get her drunk after summits) but seemed the most sensible, grown-up place on earth. Suited to the new C-class then, which seems like the most sensible, grown-up estate car on earth. Good on it, too.