2015 Mercedes-Benz C200 Estate road test review
SO, HERE'S a surprise. Did you know that in cars made after 2005, and especially 2010, the vehicle remains "on" unless it's locked? So even when your car is ensconced in the safety of your garage, it has to be locked to prevent the battery from losing charge.
And, it seems, even back-to-back long journeys are not enough to stop the slide.
We learnt this first hand during our week with the C200 Estate. Luckily, we also experienced the top-notch after-sales service Mercedes-Benz is well-known for as well as the benefits of their excellent roadside assistance program.
This wagon, which steams into Australia on the back of the success of the new C-Class sedan, is an exceptionally pleasant drive and a great alternative for those considering an SUV. Longer and broader than the sedan and just $2500 more expensive, it is available here now in a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol, with a 1.6-litre turbo-diesel expected in next month.
Care has been taken to ensure the interior of the C200 Estate reflects the upmarket feel associated with this brand. The cabin, which mirrors that of the sedan, is all about quality, with plush leather-look seat trim, stylish black piano finish and patterned brush metal highlights.
There is logic in the layout, with a fair few small storage options and a flat-bottom steering wheel that feels good in the hands.
This wagon is 96mm longer and 40mm wider than its predecessor, improving comfort levels for back seat passengers even if they count taller adults among their number. Headroom is good, too, despite a panoramic sunroof. The rear seats now feature a one-touch 40/20/40 split, meaning the cabin can be configured to your needs - two, three, four or five seats.
The total load space (1510 litres) is certainly very handy, while packing the boot is made easier by an electric tailgate, now standard across the range, and optional hands-free access.
On the road
Our C200 Estate used the power offered by its turbocharged 2.0-litre engine in clever fashion, with an able seven-speed transmission merely serving to enhance the deal. Of course, this is no sports car, but ride quality is excellent, the steering is quick to respond and it shows great confidence around difficult bends and hairy inclines.
The C200 Estate sticks to the road with ease, offering poise and refinement, and is accomplished both on the open road and in gnarly city traffic. It is easy to drive, easy to manoeuvre and beautifully balanced. You have the choice of a number of driving modes, although to our mind the Sports + setting is superior. The 18-inch wheels with 45-profile run-flat tyres let in very little road noise even on poor secondary roads, underlining excellent build quality.
What do you get?
At this price-point, you are right to expect a bit of zing for your buck, and Mercedes certainly does not disappoint, with the Estate featuring all the niceties and then some.
Standard fare includes dual-zone climate-control, auto headlights and wipers, electrically adjustable front seats, Command online multimedia system with improved screen resolution and touch-pad operation, digital radio, Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming, electric tailgate, reverse camera with front and rear parking sensors, active park assist, as well as LED headlamps, tail lights and daytime running lights.
Safety has always been a priority for Benz, and to that end, this C200 Estate is fitted with nine airbags, active cruise control, blind spot monitoring, an attention assist system that warns drivers if it they stray or appear drowsy and can steer them back into their lane, adaptive brake-assist with autonomous braking, and a collision prevention system with collision and distance warnings.
Modern-day fuel-saving technology is amazing, and the Estate boasts an official economy of 6.2 litres/100km. We were quite close to that mark, which is excellent for a car of this size and weight.
The biggest challenge will come from Audi A4 Avant (from $67,500) and BMW 320i Touring (from $62,600).
The C200 Estate has definitely been built to offer an alternative to the SUV, and it has the space, style and performance to woo buyers.
Being a Mercedes, it naturally has on-trend technology as its disposal exemplified here, for instance, by its useful heads-up display and a climate control system that switches the air recirculation flap when the car enters a tunnel and returns to normal upon exit.
The controller for the infotainment system works in a similar way to a laptop touchpad, and you can even download apps that allow you to remotely monitor fuel consumption and pre-determined alert zones. There is no spare tyre, though - not even a space-saver, just a tin of gooey goop.
This may be an Estate in name, but it is far from the staid and run-of-the-mill offerings we have come to accept as the norm for vehicles bearing this moniker.
There is a complementary mix of convex and concave surfaces, sweeping lines and gracious curves that give the C200 Estate a modern twist.
The Estate's versatility and viability makes it a clever choice for varied family configurations.
It is little wonder it is outselling the much-lauded C-Class sedan in a number of European countries. The German manufacturer believes it has struck upon an Estate with the design and performance capable of swaying potential SUV buyers here. It is hard to disagree.
Model: Mercedes-Benz C200 Estate.
Details: Five-door rear-wheel drive wagon.
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol generating maximum power of 135kW @ 5500rpm and peak torque of 300Nm @ 1200-4000rpm.
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic.
Consumption: 6.2 litres/100km (combined average).
Bottom line plus on-roads: $63,400.
What matters most
What we liked: Refined ride, great inclusions, good fuel economy, excellent storage options.
What we'd like to see: An air-con that is not linked to the stop-start system, a spare or space-saver tyre.
Warranty and servicing: Three years unlimited-kilometre warranty and three years roadside assist. Servicing is at 25,000km or annual.
Verdict: 4.5 stars