THE LOWDOWN ON NEW BENZ

WAGON IS LONGER, WIDER, SITS LOWER

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Driveway - Chris Ri­ley

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 driv­ing 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.

Ver­dict:

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