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2011 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate Review

We test the new-look Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate.

Classy, understated, satisfying, better looking than ever, comfortable and economical. The new Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate is better than ever.

Review

When: July 2011

Where: Ireland

What: 2011 Mercedes-Benz C 200 CDI Estate

Occasion: Irish test drive

Despite the general disinterest in estate cars amongst Irish car buyers, there are few more effective status symbols than a Mercedes-Benz estate on your driveway. Thanks to a mid-life facelift, that's even true of the most affordable one in the line-up, the new-look C-Class Estate.

Inside & Out: 4.5/5

The C-Class's nose obviously received most of the facelift budget and though the sheet metal changes are modest the effect is pronounced. It's far more attractive than before, especially in Avantgarde spec with the optional LED lights. There are other detail changes, such as LED rear lights, etc. that help bring the shape bang up to date. To our eyes the estate is even more desirable than the four-door saloon.

With a young family in tow the estate style appeals on another level too. The boot is wide, long and easy to access and the rear seats are easy to fold flat if you need to get something particularly big and bulky in. The cabin itself has had a makeover in line with the new C-Class Coupé's arrival and it has moved appreciably upmarket. There isn't as much space in the rear for legs as there is in mass market estates, but the C-Class squares up to its BMW adversary well on that front.

Engine & Transmission: 4/5

As Mercedes-Benz offers no less than six different turbodiesel engines in the C-Class, and the C 200 CDI tested is the second cheapest, you shouldn't be surprised to hear that it's no firecracker. The optional seven-speed automatic is a perfect partner then, further adding to the laid back experience. This is a really good transmission and it ensures that revs are kept low unless you floor the throttle. We left it in E mode (economy) most of the time, though the change in character when you press S (for sport) is pronounced, making the car feel much more powerful than 136hp. Gearchanges are swifter in this guise too.

Ride & Handling: 4/5

In the past you could count on a Mercedes-Benz being a little more comfortable than the equivalent BMW, but this latest C-Class turns that on its head. This car isn't uncomfortable by any means, but its ride is quite firm. This is especially noticeable at slow speeds over transverse ridges. The upshot is fabulous body control and rock solid stability. No matter what you throw at the car it soaks it up and it's actually enjoyable to drive too with well-modulated brakes and light, but linear steering.

Equipment, Economy & Value for Money: 3.5/5

Our test car is expensive thanks to a few choice options, but taking the entry-level price of the C 200 CDI Estate into consideration this is still a costly car. It's on a par with the 143hp version of Audi's A4 Avant 2.0 TDI, though a couple of grand more than the BMW 318d Touring. We averaged about 6.7 litres/100km (42mpg) in 700 kilometres of mixed driving with luggage and passengers on board. That's not bad at all. It's adequately equipped as standard, with nothing obvious missing from the specification - though loads of niceties you'll want to add in.

Overall: 4/5

Classy, understated, satisfying, better looking than ever, comfortable and economical. The new Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate is better than ever.

Key Facts:

•Base price of Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate: €38,750
•Price of test vehicle: €48,387
•Engine: 2.1-litre turbodiesel
•Transmission: seven-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
•Body style: five-door estate
•Rivals: Audi A4 Avant, BMW 3 Series Touring, Volkswagen Passat Estate
•CO2 emissions: 140g/km (Band B, €156 per annum)
•Combined consumption: 4.8 litres/100km (58.9mpg)
•Power: 136hp at 2,800 - 4,600rpm
•Torque: 360Nm at 1,600rpm