Mercedes-Benz C 180 Kompressor Estate

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Keywords: car reviews, car review, car, mercedes-benz c-class estate car review, new car reviews, car tests reviews, car safety review, car security

Description: Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate C180 Kompressor Elegance car review from the AA. Overall car review rating: 7 out 10. Value for money: 7 out 10.

    Bolder styling puts previous car in the shade Generous load carrying capacity Good selection of safety features Entry-level petrol engine impressive despite its modest power rating
    Interior feels and looks too conservative Rear seats don't fold completely flat The large side mirrors, handy for towing, but cause a blindspot by the A-pillars Confusing mix of model variants and options

The C-Class range has been revised in an effort to appeal to a wider customer base. It sports a look featuring more aggressive styling and it now has one of the largest load compartments in the segment. There are a number of engines to choose from and following a re-working, boast improved power output and fuel economy.

Based on the saloon the estate follows in its tracks by sharing the same sharp looks at the front and specifications. Buyers can choose from the SE or Elegance models, with a proper grille and star on top of the bonnet, or the Sport model which has a coupe-like grille mounted star and a stiffer suspension.

The car's rear end has been re-designed with steeper D-pillars to increase the load space from 470 to 485 litres and with the rear seats folded back this extends to 1,500 litres. The optional Easy-Pack load system adds a number of features including adjustable bars, dividers and additional load-securing rings enabling drivers to partition the load compartment as they desire and store objects securely.

All models benefit from a new rear suspension system called Agility Control that automatically adjusts the shock absorbers to suit road conditions or the driving style. Generally designed to maximise ride comfort the firmer damping kicks in when activated to provide greater stability and a sportier response. Overall the system provides a fine balance between poise and comfort.

Customers who select Sport models have an additional option of a dynamic handling package, which adds shock absorbers regulated by variable electronic control plus an even quicker steering rack and sharper throttle response. In both versions, the estate is more responsive in the steering and overall the handling and ride quality is decent. Road holding has improved and the estate manages to deliver an impressively flat ride whether accelerating, braking or cornering.

Although the new estate is a marked improvement over its predecessor, in terms of fuel economy plus driving and handling characteristics, Mercedes-Benz has decided to play it safe and stick to what's worked for them in the past. The firm desperately needs to attract a younger market, without losing loyal customers, but the underlying impression is of a car that's still conservative with a capital C.

It's priced high but that's nothing new since most Mercedes-Benz cars are expensive to buy. The good news it that they tend to retain their value well and running costs have been improved, thanks to an increase in fuel economy across the range.

The longer and wider body of this generation C-Class means more space for occupants inside and passengers now sit slightly higher than before. Overall the C-Class Estate has more load space than its main rivals, no matter what configuration the seats are in. However it's a real shame that it doesn't have a completely flat load floor. Nonetheless it has a maximum permissible payload of 605kg, along with a maximum braked towing capacity of 1,800kg giving it the muscle to turn it into a decent workhorse when required.

The excellent and intelligent Pre-Safe system, standard on all models, prepares the car and its occupants for a possible collision based on a number of factors such as emergency braking or if it detects a danger of skidding. Added with a comprehensive list of safety equipment, such as brake assist and seven airbags including full-length curtain bags, the C-Class has performed well during safety tests and can be described as one of the safest estates on the road.

Both versions of the C-Class can be had with an automatically adjusting suspension that reacts to the road conditions or the driver's style of driving. The setup of the Sport models, with the lowered suspension, stiffer settings and more direct steering means that the drive is precise and more fun than those set up towards comfort, although the ride is more supple and cosseting. The C-Class does its job competently but there are few thrills to be had when behind the wheel.

Mercedes has always enjoyed a well-deserved reputation for building high quality cars and the estate is no different. However, the firm's tendency to stick with what's safe and conventional means that it has not responded particularly well to consumers' changing tastes and demands. Consequently its image has started to suffer and the brand is known for being conservative.

The car's wide tailgate opening is particularly useful for loading and as it is fairly low to the floor. This means moving objects in and out need not be back breaking work. An Easy-Pack option, which adds an automatic powered tailgate that opens or closes via the touch of a button, is especially useful for keeping hands clean. All four passenger doors open nice and wide making it one of the most accessible estates on the market.

Mercedes-Benz is eager to continue its success among fleet buyers so it comes as no surprise that Bluetooth comes as standard across the range. Three entertainment systems were developed for the C-Class, and all feature an easy to use keypad. The Audio 50 APS system adds pan-European DVD navigation, while the Comand multimedia system adds a hard disk storage option. A high-resolution map appears on a tilting colour display and can be viewed from different perspectives.

Unsurprisingly, the bolder and brighter colours such as brilliant red, suit the sharper styled looks of the Sport better than the traditional design of the SE and Elegance models - although metallic hues suit both body equally as well. Inside, the cabin is refined although rather conventional. Fit and finish is up to the usual high standards of Mercedes-Benz.



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