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Mercedes-Benz C-Class Car Review | Mercedes-Benz C320CDI Estate | October 10, 2007

Driven October 2007

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There is a big difference between the word 'practicability' and 'practicality' but we won't go into that here.

Suffice to say that 'practicability' was the word used (a lot) to describe the new C-Class Estate during the press presentation, but we can forgive the brilliant German engineers and their marketing helpers for being only practically certain about its meaning. 'Practicality' is what it's all about, in fact, and the Estate's practicality makes it a great car: the C-Class of choice, in fact.

Compare the D-pillar on this new car with the outgoing model and you can see that Mercedes has decided to concentrate a little more on load carrying capacity - it's much more upright.

Load space with the seats down is up 10 per cent over the last C, to 1,500 litres, which beats the equivalent BMW 3 Series (1,385) and Audi A4 (1,355), but trails the Golf estate (1,550) from the class below. It is also a lot less than the excellent Honda Accord Tourer, at 1707 litres. So, it's not too great, really.

Look inside and clever stuff abounds, some of which you don't have to pay extra for, like the under-floor area with collapsible shopping basket, luggage nets, and the coat hooks in the rear hatch door pulls - not to mention the easy-fold rear seats, which drop with a simple click and don't need the cushions to be flipped first.

However, paying a little extra for options helps, as is the case with all German executive cars these days, so the EASY-PACK load securing kit is worth having (around £250 at the time of writing).

It consists of a metal bar which can be attached at either end to movable mounts, and retractable loop strap, allowing you to secure your luggage properly and stop it flying around the cabin. It is an excellent system and all estate cars should have it. Option that and you get a self-closing electric tailgate, a first for this segment.

The car's towing capacity is impressive, too, at 1,800kg. I'd never towed a caravan before, so I thought I'd try it with this C320 CDI - not only to sample Mercedes' trailer stability function as part of its Electronic Stability Program (ESP), but to see how well the engine pulls with a big caravan on the back. It pulls effortlessly.

Then, flick the steering violently at 60mph to set up an oscillation in the caravan and the ESP automatically brings things back straight again. Very good.

It looks handsome, it's well built, it's safe and it's expensive. So the C Estate ticks all the right boxes - and carries a few, too.

Bill Thomas

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