THE LOWDOWN ON NEW BENZ
WAGON IS LONGER, WIDER, SITS LOWER
SITTING long and low, the C-Class Estate is the very epitome of why wagons have not gone out of fashion.
Surprise, surprise, they are just as useful as they have always been with none of the obvious drawbacks of SUVs, like size and weight that impact on ride and handling.
At least that's our story, and we're sticking to it.
Prices for the C-Class wagon start from $63,400 for the C200.
Stepping up a notch, the C250 will set you back $71,400 for the petrol or $72,900 for our top-ofthe-line diesel model before onroads and options.
It's no secret that few Benz buyers drive off without ticking at least some of the option boxes, which can add thousands to the price.
The hard part is figuring out what is standard and what is not.
The new model is longer and wider but sits slightly lower than before.
It sits even lower with sports suspension fitted, which serves to lower the car another 15mm.
The cabin is a study in style, dominated by a free-standing computer screen and five large turbine shaped air vents.
Our test vehicle was fitted with the $2685 AMG kit that adds plenty of sporty touches including a body kit, lowered sports suspension and 19 inch wheels.
All up our Benz retails for $90,378 plus on-roads.
The cabin trim in our car was a beautiful combination of ivory leather, brushed aluminium and black ash trim, with sports seats and sports wheel which are also part of the AMG kit.
Did we mention the 590Watt, 13-speaker Burmester audio system with its brushed aluminium speaker grilles?
Hang on a minute; that's part of another package.
The 2.1-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel delivers 150kW and 500Nm, the latter from a low 1600 revs.
It's paired with a seven-speed auto and all models are fitted with auto engine stop-start technology to reduce fuel consumption.
The auto comes with change paddles and the dash from 0 to 100km/h takes 6.9 seconds, with a top speed of 210km/h.
Optional Airmatic agility control was also fitted to our car, which gives the driver a choice of four dri- ving styles at the touch of a button.
C-Class gets a full five stars for safety with a rear-view camera and nine airbags including a driver knee bag as standard. Anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic brake distribution (EBD), electronic stability control (ESC) and autonomous emergency braking (AEB) are also standard, along with many other safety features.
The C-Class is a multi-award winner and bread and butter of the Benz range.
There's not a big difference between the cost of petrol and diesel models and these days not a huge difference in fuel consumption either, although we doubt this is a consideration for many buyers.
The C250 diesel with its extra torque goes like stink and is just a tenth of a second slower out of the gates than the petrol one, with a wicked turn of speed as the torque kicks in.
But, as much as we like the performance, we found the clatter of the diesel a little off-putting at times.
Fuel consumption is rated at a lean 4.8 litres/100km but the computer reported 6.4 litres/100km after 1500km; good, but not outstanding.
Driving, we found over the shoulder vision poor and welcomed the addition of blind spot monitoring, which is standard.
The freestanding computer monitor looks like a tablet but is not a touchscreen, which is just plain frustrating because the driver is forced to control everything from a central rotary knob and series of switches between the front seats.
The wagon is a good thing, no two ways about it but I wonder whether we'd feel quite the same way with the options removed?
Mercedes-Benz's classy Estate.