CAR Magazine:First Drives - Mercedes-Benz C 350 Estate Sport

What’s the point of the Mercedes-Benz C350 Estate Sport? Sure, it looks great and it’s got loads of power, but no way can a small estate (even a small Mercedes estate) be useful too. Surely you’d just buy an E-class if you wanted space. Wouldn’t you?

Should I just buy the salon, then?

Well, as it turns out, no - though I wouldn’t recommend a camping holiday for four in the C350 Estate. First, it’s thirsty (you’d rather have a C320 CDI if you’re heading for the south of France) and no, it’s not the most capacious estate around. But it’s still pretty useful.

I packed four fully-grown blokes and luggage for a long weekend into it. No complaints about legroom, plenty of boot space for the bags, coats and travelling paraphernalia (thrown over the back seat - we’d have struggled in the saloon). My passengers all appreciated the general level of finish, the air of refinement, seat comfort, and the ride. And there was plenty of entertainment for the driver too.

So the Sport in the name rings true, then?

Absolutely. The C-class is always fun to hustle and the C350 Estate has enough power to treat the weight of a full compliment of chaps and chattels with disdain. When a stretch down the M1 became too congested, we peeled off and headed across the Vale of Aylesbury, following the sat-nav’s shortest suggested route. Hit the Sport button and the dampers and throttle response tighten noticeably. You trade a slight edge to the ride for superbly sure-footed progress. Your passengers appreciate the swift progress and there’s no wallowing or rolling to upset them.

Meanwhile the gutsy V6 revs to the heavens and wails appreciatively. Of course, the diesel makes more sense economically, but it lacks the petrol engine’s tingle factor and red-line appeal.


Yes, it’s a lifestyle estate. And, yes, it’s hard to justify nearly £40k for it. But forget about the kind of lifestyle the ad agencies are always plugging: this isn’t a mountain-bikes-and-dirt-tracks kind of car. Neither is it really a family car (there’s acres more space in a Mondeo for half the price). But if your lifestyle involves the need for a swift, refined, compact, well-finished sports saloon with a premium badge, and you occasionally need to carry a healthy payload, this C-class is two cars in one.

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