Mercedes Benz C-Class Estate

The significance, or perhaps that should say coincidence, of driving a Mercedes Benz, especially one painted silver, to this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed didn’t really become apparent to me until I got there. On the Friday morning as the masses made their way towards the either the Cathedral Paddock, the Cricket pitch complete with its display of World Speed Record holders, or the F1 cars and their sponsor clad mechanics, I slipped through the doors of Goodwood house and on, into the marquee in the gardens that housed the Brooks Auction.

Inside on a beautifully restored blue transporter, which incidentally also sported the famous three-pointed star and was shipped over especially for the occasion, sat the ex-Juan Manuel Fangio Mercedes W196. The one that was driven to victory by the Argentinian racing ace in the 1954 German Grand-Prix: Later that very same afternoon the somewhat dishevelled looking silver single-seater sold for £19.6 million.  That’s the world record for a racing car at auction.

Fortunately “my” Benz had a significantly lower asking price. These days Mercedes start the bidding for CD220 estate such as the one that carried me across the South Downs for an altogether more reasonable £31,485. Well that’s where they start the bidding; that what you’ll pay if you can resist ticking the option list boxes.

   For your money you get what, in my humble opinion, is one of the most handsome, if perhaps slightly under-stated, estate cars on the market. And it is an estate too; Mercedes Benz have thankfully resisted the urge to call their more capacious C a Shooting Brake, Sport-Brake, a Sport-Wagon or any other lifestyle promising name the likes of which marketing types seem to thrive on. It’s traditional and in some ways it’s exactly what you expect of Mercedes.

As with the racer the C-Class’s steering wheel is large in diameter and provides the perfect frame for the instruments behind it; the whole dashboard in fact is an exercise in simple, restrained design. But, whereas Fangio’s rev counter displayed how fast the 8 pistons ahead of him whirring up and down, in the C-Class there’s only 4, and rather than running on a high octane racing cocktail, in the case of the press-car they run on good old fashioned diesel. There are downsides to this. Under heavy acceleration the 4 cylinder oil-burner  can become quite vocal – it’s not the smoothest of power-plants when working hard. However on the run down to Goodwood and back it returned in excess of 50 Mpg and, after nearly 500 miles of mixed road driving, thanks in part to the auto boxes ability to seamlessly select the right ratios, I still  had over a quarter of a tank of “heavy oil” left. If that’s not an upside in these cash-strapped times I don’t know what is. 170bhp and 0-60 in 8 seconds are equally commendable

As is the way the C-class rides. OK, so dynamically a C-Class estate is never going to have your pulse racing and the suspension is softer than you might expect from something from Stuttgart, but this Merc’s compact load-lugger will munch miles forever-and- day. And although the seats did get criticised slightly by my very discerning passenger for being a little flat and “numb bum inducing”, for a couple of hours at least the C-Class’s cabin is both a classy and comfy place to be. Also, on what was to be hottest days of the year, thankfully, the dual zone climate-control meant both we and the C slipped through Midhurst and Petersfield without ever breaking sweat.

Load up the C-Class estate with luggage – the boot is huge - and it makes a worthy, compact and comfortable, long distance cruiser. Load it up with options though and it makes an expensive one too. However Mercedes Benz’s reputation for quality means its residuals should be remain as solid as its build. You’ll never win a Grand-Prix in it and you’ll never set any auction records either, but rest assured it’s still a bit of a classic.

 

C 220 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY EXECUTIVE SE ESTATE

Engine: 2143cc 4cylinder 16valve turbo-diesel

Transmission: 7 speed G-tronic auto

Power: 170bhp @ 3000 - 4200rpm

Torque: 295 lbft  @ 1400 – 2800 rpm

0-62mph: 8.3 sec

Max Speed: 136mph

Mpg: 55.4 (combined)

CO2: 134g/km

Price: £31,485 (Car driven: £38,860)

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Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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