Somerset Life's web editor Julian Rees spends a weekend with the new Mercedes Benz C-class estate


The estate of independence...Somerset Life's web editor Julian Rees spends a weekend with the new Mercedes Benz C-class estate

The estate of independence… 

Somerset Life’s web editor Julian Rees spends a weekend with the new Mercedes Benz C-class estate 

Yes, it’s called an estate, not a station wagon, a sports tourer, a shooting brake or any of those other silly names that make estates sound less utilitarian. Last year, as a nation of child-bearers, dog-owners and weekend DIY enthusiasts, we bought a smidgen under 300,000 estate cars, so clearly we still have a place in our hearts for the original load lugger - remember those far off days when one could squeeze an entire under 11s football team in the boot?

“You will feel as pampered and exacting as brand ambassador Lewis Hamilton’s micro-beard”

So perhaps we’re not really ready for MPVs, SUVs, MDCNNs (that last one’s a Marketing Department Conceived Nonsense Name) and we do really like to stick to what we know and trust. If car manufacturers spent more of their development time and money on a smaller range of shapes they might find themselves engaging with just as many motorists with far better products?

That said, Mercedes certainly have developed their C Class platform with over 3,000 new parts and a staggering 31% efficiency improvement over the previous model - that being represented as a combined fuel consumption figure of 54.3 mpg and a CO2 figure of 136. The range of standard equipment, often an area for concern when purchasing a premium brand, is also considerable.

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So, after several hundred miles of Somerset’s finest tarmac, this is what we thought… 

What was good?

My wife liked the way the seat belts gave you a reassuring ‘hug’ once the engine was started. I saw it more as an assessment of one’s girth that might be reported back to Mercedes Benz HQ for future marketing purposes and model development.

The ECO stop/start function means the engine switches off when you’re stopped in traffic – once over the initial panic that the engine has failed (or worse still that you have stalled it), sit back and enjoy the peace and quiet. Then marvel at the way the moment you release the brake pedal it’s ready to go, you’ve done your bit to save the world and, over the course of trying to withdraw from Wells on a Saturday afternoon, probably saved several pounds!

The seven-speed automatic gearbox makes for silky-smooth progress but beware… engaging ‘Sport’ mode did sometimes lead to an onset of mild panic…is it going to change up or am I going to take off? Sport means sport and it’s capable of delivering plenty of licence-threatening performance!

A great luggage net or dog guard – whatever its true purpose, it kept the dog in check, and if you’re like me and find yourself on frequent trips to rental properties in dingier parts of university towns with your offspring, it prevents that laptop or sandwich toaster becoming a deadly projectile in the inevitable stop-start of city driving. 

What was less good?

The gear change paddles on the steering wheel – I struggled to find a time when I felt I needed to take over the good work.

I couldn’t make my MP3 work and as for streaming Bluetooth audio - I hadn’t packed any teenagers…

And finally the question I ask of every car manufacturer, when will someone put the dipped and main beam switch on the steering wheel? 

In conclusion there’s no disputing this is a quality car. The interior is peppered with a variety of brushed metallic finishes and red stitching to accentuate the AMG sports heritage allowing one to feel as pampered and exacting as brand ambassador Lewis Hamilton’s micro beard. The smart black and polished alloy wheels, fantastic Xenon headlights, array of day and night time LED side lights and assertive body styling put this model firmly into the sporting bracket, and in my opinion give it a more dynamic and sprightly attractiveness than the current offerings from other quality marques.  Whilst attracting a younger audience than is traditionally associated with Mercedes Benz it still allows one to maintain the feeling that you’ve well and truly arrived!

Add to that the brand’s dogmatic mechanical longevity and it all adds up to a great all-round package.

For more information visit: call 01823 726711Mercedes-Benz of TauntonTonewayTA1 2EJTaunton

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