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

PUBLISHED: 15:10 26 March 2013 | UPDATED: 21:19 05 April 2013

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

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

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

The estate ofindependence

Devon Lifes web editor spends a weekend with the new Mercedes Benz C-class estate

Words & Pictures: Julian Rees

Yes, its 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, 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?

So perhaps were not really ready for MPVs, SUVs, MDCNNs (that last ones 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.

You will feel as pampered and exacting as brand ambassador Lewis Hamiltons micro-beard

That said, Mercedes certainly has developed its C Class platform, with more than 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.

So, after several hundred miles of Devons finest tarmac, on a weekend probably best suited to staying inside, 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 ones 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 youre 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 its ready to go, youve done your bit to save the world and, over the course of trying to exit Exeter on a Saturday afternoon, probably saved several pounds!

The 7-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 its 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 youre 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 couldnt make my MP3 work and as for streaming Bluetooth audio, I hadnt 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, theres 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 Hamiltons 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 youve well and truly arrived.

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

For more information

Mercedes-Benz of Exeter
Matford Park Road
Marsh Barton
EX2 8FD Exeter
Tel: 01392 308201
Mercedes-Benz of Plymouth
Tavistock Road
Tel: 01752 648716


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