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Driven: Mercedes-Benz C 220 d Estate. Image by Mercedes UK.

Driven: Mercedes-Benz C 220 d Estate
A minor facelift to the C-Class brought in the new 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine. The results are spectacular.

 



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Mercedes-Benz C 220 d Estate 4Matic

5 5 5 5 5

Good points: latest OM654 turbodiesel engine transforms the C 220 d from 'nearly brilliant' to 'best-in-class'

Not so good: spec it up like this and you're looking at a 48.5k four-cylinder diesel estate

Key Facts

Model tested: Mercedes-Benz C 220 d 4Matic AMG Line Estate
Price: C-Class Estate range from 34,825; C 220 d 4Matic AMG Line from 40,035, car as tested 48,405
Engine: 2.0-litre twin-turbocharged four-cylinder diesel
Transmission: nine-speed 9G-Tronic Plus automatic, 4Matic all-wheel drive
Body style: five-door premium estate
CO2 emissions: 132g/km (VED Band 131-150: 210 in year one, then 465 per annum years two to six of ownership, then 145 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 56.5mpg
Top speed: 144mph
0-62mph: 7.4 seconds
Power: 194hp at 3,800rpm
Torque: 400Nm at 1,600-2,800rpm
Boot space: 460-1,480 litres

Our view:

We're not going to go into chapter and verse on the W205 Mercedes C-Class, which launched in 2014 and which you should know well enough by now. It comes in four body styles, there are engines ranging from 1.6-litre turbocharged Renault-Nissan-sourced units up to socking great V8s from Affalterbach and AMG, and it's the first 'proper' Mercedes in the hierarchy; sorry to the A-Class Saloon, but when people think of Mercs, they think of three-box machines - and the C-Class is the very heartland of this residual mental image.

Of course, here we're testing the more-handsome-than-the-saloon Estate model. Subjected to a vanishingly small facelift in 2018, you'll struggle to spot the updated C from just its slightly sleeker headlamp clusters - but step aboard and some of the changes are more apparent. It now has the big-spoked steering wheel from an S-Class, while our test car had the full digi-dash - a 10.25-inch freestanding infotainment screen on the top of the centre stack, which is standard, and a 12.3-inch instrument cluster, which is not. In this case, the latter was part of a hefty 4,995 Premium Plus package, which at least throws in all of the following for that not-insignificant outlay: ambient, 64-colour interior lighting; Comand Online with touchpad; Multibeam LED Intelligent Lights; wireless charging for a smartphone; a 360-degree camera; the magnificent Burmester Surround Sound System; the Keyless-Go Comfort package; and a panoramic glass sunroof.

Anyway, while the Merc's cabin might not have the full Widescreen Cockpit capability of the latest Benz infotainment systems, it's still a lovely place to spend a lot of time. Beautifully crafted, intelligently laid-out, once more packing that column-shifter which is so idiosyncratic of the three-pointed star these days, this is a wonderful interior and it's spacious too, although outright load-lugging is not its forte; indeed, the Merc's average 490-/1,510-litre boot space is cut by 30 litres in each instance on this car because it is fitted with 4Matic AWD. Nevertheless, inside it's magnificent and the outside is plenty easy on the eye too, especially in 895 Designo Hyacinth Red metallic paint and AMG Line trim.

No, the big news at facelift time was that the old, rattly and loud OM651 2.1-litre bi-turbodiesel engine which had seen service in the C-Class previously was finally replaced by the silkier 2.0-litre OM654 unit. So let's cut to the chase: last time we drove a C-Class diesel in the UK, it was a C 220 d saloon in AMG Line spec with fixed-rate suspension. We thought it was nice but it was let down by an overly firm ride, the raucous OM651 and also the C saloon's slightly unusual looks where the rear screen meets the bootlid. Here, though, this C 220 d Estate was fitted with the AMG Line spec once more but also the 895 Airmatic Dynamic Handling package, which equips air suspension all round, as well as that OM654 donkey up front. And it was utterly, utterly majestic.

It's hard to convey how much of an improvement that 2.0-litre engine has wrought on the C-Class, but there's no grumbling from it now, no clattering, nothing in the way of vibrations felt through the pedals, wheel and seat, and instead in its place is a muted growl when the OM654 is being extended and clean, strong, linear performance right around the rev counter. Paired up to the totally unobtrusive and glorious nine-speed autobox, the drivetrain makes the Mercedes better in every conceivable circumstance: whether pottering around town, cruising along an open country road, enacting an overtake on two-lane arterial routes, holding steady motorway pace for miles on end or even barrelling the C 220 d along a country lane, having a bit of a good old-fashioned thrash, you'll adore the way this Mercedes goes about its business.

Aided and abetted by the Airmatic, the refinement levels of the C-Class - already high previously - are now practically off the charts. Its ride quality is second-to-none in this segment, or indeed a good few segments above, but brilliantly the Airmatic does a superb job of keeping the body in check during cornering and, with the traction advantages of the (optional) 4Matic, even the handling of the updated C 220 d is superior to what it was previously. Maybe still not BMW-good, granted, but more invigorating and rewarding than ever (save for the AMG models, obvs) prior to the 2018 update.

Such a wonderful job has Mercedes done on the revised C-Class that we drove it down to deepest Suffolk for the launch of the exquisite Volvo V60 Cross Country, and we came away from the event deeply confused. After 442 miles and almost ten hours in the Merc, being wonderfully cosseted by it as we racked up an overall 44.8mpg with a best of 48.7mpg on the way down to Sibton Park, we really couldn't split this elegant German and its urbane Swedish rival.

In fact, when it comes to the C 220 d, the only thing we didn't like about our test vehicle was its price. With every extra we've already mentioned fitted, plus a 400 Artico leather dashboard, a 1,695 Driving Assistance package stuffed with some of the latest and greatest semi-autonomous driver aids, and 385 privacy glass, this four-cylinder, 2.0-litre diesel estate rocked in at 48,405. Outrageous? Well... no, actually. In fact, for something as deeply talented, fundamentally likeable and just downright brilliant as the OM654-equipped C 220 d 4Matic wagon, we happen to think it's something of a bargain. Because it feels like the oh-so-real coalescence of that oft-heard, but often-misattributed phrase: it's all the car you could ever need.

Alternatives:

Audi A4 Avant: such is the ferocious pace of change in the automotive industry. When the A4 estate launched in 2016, it felt like market leader; barely three years later, it has been relegated to third place.

BMW 3 Series Touring: we're still waiting for the sixth-generation 3 Series Touring to land, so technically, the outgoing F31 is still in play. And the Mercedes destroys it in all departments, save for handling brio.

Volvo V60: in our opinion, in the premium compact estate market it's a straight fight between this and the C-Class. Volvo is beautiful to look at and has a cabin to match the Merc, but spec it carefully - R-Design models can have crunchy ride quality.


Matt Robinson - 28 Feb 2019









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2019 Mercedes-Benz C 220 d Estate. Image by Mercedes UK.2019 Mercedes-Benz C 220 d Estate. Image by Mercedes UK.2019 Mercedes-Benz C 220 d Estate. Image by Mercedes UK.2019 Mercedes-Benz C 220 d Estate. Image by Mercedes UK.2019 Mercedes-Benz C 220 d Estate. Image by Mercedes UK.

2019 Mercedes-Benz C 220 d Estate. Image by Mercedes UK.2019 Mercedes-Benz C 220 d Estate. Image by Mercedes UK.2019 Mercedes-Benz C 220 d Estate. Image by Mercedes UK.2019 Mercedes-Benz C 220 d Estate. Image by Mercedes UK.2019 Mercedes-Benz C 220 d Estate. Image by Mercedes UK.








 

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