DRIV­ING

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Road Test -

THE C200K Tour­ing is im­pres­sive, and ex­pen­sive. It seemed too good for a car worth $58,978, and it was. Mercedes loaded the test car with $27,827 of op­tions, so we were re­ally test­ing a $86,805 C-Class wagon.

The big­gest op­tion was the $12,786 AMG Sports Pack­age, an ex­pen­sive body kit.

There was also voice-op­er­ated satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion for $4163 and the Vi­sion Pack ($4799), which in­cluded bi-xenon head­lights with cor­ner­ing func­tion, a sun­roof and a mega Har­man-Kar­don Logic7 sound sys­tem with a beefy sub­woofer.

And there was the lux­ury cli­mate con­trol at $1281, the Easy Pack Tail­gate at $1070 and the $3728 18-inch AMG al­loy wheels and mod­i­fied sus­pen­sion.

The last op­tion, along with the body kit, makes the car look fan­tas­tic, but spoils the ride.

Make no mis­take, the firmer sus­pen­sion set­ting and big­ger wheels are great fun on a smooth, twist­ing road. You can throw the wagon into turns with great con­fi­dence and it hangs on. It also turns in sharply and goes ex­actly where you point it.

But if the road is any­thing but mar­ble smooth, your kid­neys will take a hit as the sus­pen­sion passes on ev­ery sin­gle lump, bump or rip­ple in the road.

The roads we drove it on were far from per­fect and the C200K spent the week jolt­ing the driver and pas­sen­gers, which made it fairly easy to hand the keys back.

That said, given how nice a stan­dard C-Class sedan is to drive, a C200K Es­tate with­out the harsh sus­pen­sion will prob­a­bly be far bet­ter than its BMW 3 Se­ries ri­val.

It has lots of space in the rear seats and the cargo area is big enough for most loads with the seats in place. Fold them down and it takes large items, in­clud­ing a moun­tain bike, with ease.

So steer clear of all the op­tions ex­cept for the Easy Pack tail­gate.

Re­turn­ing to your car with bags of shop­ping and open­ing the tail­gate with the key fob is nice, es­pe­cially when it’s rain­ing.

You don’t have to put your shop­ping down and, apart from any­thing else, it will prob­a­bly im­press your friends.

The wagon’s en­gine is ad­e­quate but no fire­ball. It’s not the smoothest pow­er­plant at idle and the five-speed au­to­matic is ad­e­quate.

THE BOT­TOM LINE

THE stan­dard model is a nice al­ter­na­tive to a pres­tige cross­over wagon, but the fully loaded test car is over­priced and the sus­pen­sion too harsh.

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