Mercedes-Benz C-Class

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Mercedes-Benz C220

Road Test

Mercedes-Benz C-Class Mercedes C220 CDI Estate Sport

Driven January 2008

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The Mercedes 'C' estate is a good-looking car for grown ups. Fitted with the same kit as our test car, with the optional AMG styling and wheels, it is - for me - the style icon of its class. Small diesel estates are something of an area of expertise in our household.

We avoided the urge to rush out and buy something inexplicably massive and 4WD when either of our brood arrived. We have an Audi A4 and love it, but parked next to the C-Class it looks about as modern as a Model T.

The C interior is an exercise in simple, uncluttered design. Some of the plastics and their surfacing don't seem terribly premium, but the dash layout is classic Mercedes; stylish, simplistic and functional.

However, you soon become aware that this is not a massive car. Go for the optional double sunroof and headroom is adversely affected - if you're above 6ft tall you may have to lay the seat down a bit to compensate and stop your head banging off the roof.

Loading fidgety munchkins into the rear is easy with usefully wide opening doors, and as you approach the C-Class with your hands full, you just plip the key and the automatic boot swings open. But once you set off, you become aware of small feet pushing the back of your chair, further evidence of the C estate's space compromises.

This is compounded by the notable lack of luggage room - at only 1,500 litres with the seats down, it trails the Volkswagen Golf Estate by 50 litres, Honda Accord Tourer by 207 litres and Passat Estate by 231 litres. Bigger than the last C, but still small.

Fire the 220 engine and another disappointment becomes obvious - as it rattles away at idle, there is no escaping this is a four-cylinder diesel. There are truly stunning diesel engines in the Merc range - the 3.2 is a peach - but this is too intrusive.

Once we're off, the engine pulls well and will deliver 35mpg driven hard, and over 45mpg when cruising. As you would expect with a Mercedes, the ride is good and the suspension is firm, but never crashy. The optional alloys are 18s and the ride quality owes much to the 17s on this car.

With Mercedes' excellent build quality, if you bought one during the twinkle-in-the-eye stage, you could still be happily running it when you're coughing up uni fees. But with the limited room, I fear you may have run out of space by then.

Charlie Turner

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