Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate 2023 Review

Written by David Ross

9/10
heycar ratingBeautifully built comfortable family wagon
  • 2021
  • Estate
  • Petrol, Diesel, PHEV, Mild Hybrid

Quick overview

Pros

  • Incredibly comfortable and refined
  • 65 mile battery range from C 300 e PHEV
  • Modern tech and infotainment

Cons

  • Not the most practical estate
  • BMW 3 Series Touring still more enjoyable to drive
  • Some interior trim not as plush as you'd expect

Overall verdict on the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate

"Mercedes hasn't rewritten the rule book with this C-Class Estate, instead it has built on what made its predecessor so popular while adding advanced tech and improving interior quality. The stand out model is the C 300 e plug-in hybrid which is one of the best PHEVs on the market."

Mercedes C-Class Estate Review 2023

The latest Mercedes C-Class Estate makes a compelling case as one of the best estate cars on sale. It may not look that different to its predecessor - and indeed it uses a reworked version of that cars platform - but it brings advanced tech, improved quality and more room inside. 


Add in impeccable comfort and it's easy to see why the Mercedes C-Class Estate is more than a match for its big rivals - the BMW 3 Series Touring and Audi A4 Avant. Our Mercedes C-Class Estate review will explain why you may want to choose this over the competition.


In a world full of quality SUVs, you may think there's no demand for a more practical version of the Mercedes C-Class saloon. Yet estate cars still sell well and are in demand from family buyers.

 

This Mercedes C-Class Estate is certainly a case of evolution not revolution in terms of exterior styling. It's lower than before and the new grille and headlights bring it in line with the likes of the Mercedes E-Class, but it's hardly night and day compared to its predecessor.


Get behind the wheel however and you'll instantly see the changes. There's more on-board tech than before with the cabin dominated by a huge touchscreen for the MBUX system.


Interior quality feels a step up from before, certainly on high spec models. However, there are some areas that still feel below par for a car at this price. On the plus side, there have been thorough revisions to the ride and comfort. Up against its direct competitors, we'd say this is by far the most comfortable.


There's also more space inside. Elbow room has increased front and rear while those in the back will be pleased with the extra knee room and more headroom too. On top of that the boot has grown by 30 litres to 490 litres in total, although it's still not the biggest estate around.


Perhaps the biggest change is to the C 300 e plug-in hybrid model. This uses a far larger lithium-ion battery than before, giving it a battery range of up to 65 miles, far more than the competition. The BMW 330e Touring for example, can only cover 37 miles. It makes the C 300 e one of the best PHEV models on the market.


The rest of the engine line up remains familiar Mercedes-Benz with the most popular (and most affordable) models the C 200 petrol and the C 220 d. It's these which make up the majority of sales although you may see the odd C 300 and C 300 d. All get 48v mild hybrid technology to improve fuel economy and performance.


The Mercedes C-Class Estate majors in comfort so while it may not be the most engaging estate to drive  - that remains the BMW 3 Series Touring - it's the most relaxing and effortless. It's also incredibly quiet and refined, even if you go for the C 220 d diesel model. All cars get an impressively smooth nine-speed automatic as standard.


Looking for a used car for sale? We've got 100s of Mercedes-Benz Approved Used Cars for Sale for you to choose from, including a wide range of Mercedes C-Class Estates for sale. If you're looking for the older version, you need our Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate (2014-2021) review.

If you want a comfortable, refined and posh estate car that's not the size of a bus, the Mercedes C-Class Estate is for you. True, other estates are more practical but the latest C-Class Estate is more than a match for its direct rivals here - the BMW 3 Series Touring and Audi A4 Avant. 


If you're after dynamic handling we'd suggest the BMW, the Mercedes instead majors on comfort with well judged suspension and an easy-to-drive nature that's been a Mercedes hallmark for many years. If you're a technophile, you'll love the interior with its huge screens and the MBUX advanced infotainment system.

The standout model in the latest Mercedes C-Class Estate range is undoubtedly the C 300 e. This plug-in hybrid has an electric range of 65, far more than any of the competition. In fact, it's one of the best PHEVs on the market. While around town you're unlikely to use the petrol engine, when it does come into play on longer journeys, you can expect to see around 60mpg, similar to a C 220 d.


The AMG Line comes very well equipped for the money and looks the part too, so we'd stick with this rather than spending more on the AMG Line Premium.

Rivals to the Mercedes C-Class Estate include the ever popular Audi A4 Avant and BMW 3 Series Touring. The Audi is at a disadvantage in that there's no PHEV version, unlike BMW which has the BMW 330e Touring plug-in hybrid to compete with the Mercedes C 300 e.


There's also the excellent Volvo V60 which comes as a plug-in hybrid in the form of the T8 model. If you want something different there's the Genesis G70 Shooting Brake, a newcomer to the UK market.


Others to consider? If you want more space for your money there's the Skoda Superb Estate and Volkswagen Passat Estate while we also rate the Peugeot 508 SW.

Comfort and design: Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate interior

"The impressive interior of the Mercedes C-Class Estate is dominated by a huge touchscreen while there's plenty of room in the front for taller drivers."

Mercedes C-Class Estate Review 2023 interior

Thanks to lots of adjustment in both the seat and steering column, it's easy to get a comfortable driving position in the Mercedes C-Class Estate. The panoramic sunroof does rob a touch of headroom, so very tall driver's might want to take note. 


The seats are supportive and comfortable plus all models have lumbar adjustment as standard. AMG Line Premium models get fullly electric adjustment with memory too. We found the C-Class Estate a great car for long journeys with the high centre console giving you a 'cockpit' feel behind the wheel without making it cramped.


Replacing the conventional instrument dials is a huge 12.3 inch screen that you can customise with different style displays. You're most likely to stick with the standard one but it's a nice touch.


There's more space in the back than before with noticeably more knee room, but the big rear tunnel means it's tight for three in the back and if you have two child seats, the middle seat is pretty much unusable.


The design is minimalist (helped by the lack of buttons) with plenty of metal trim used throughout. You can get different trims too, with metal-weave standard on AMG Line models while the Anthracite linestructure lime wood on AMG Line Premium Plus models is pretty special.

Mercedes-Benz has talked a lot about improving interior quality in this generation Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate and overall, it's certainly an improvement on the old model. 


That's most noticeable on high spec models with their leather covered door tops and posher trims. However, on standard versions, things feel less plush with some of the door plastics and speaker covers not up the standards you'd expect of a car that costs this much. 


That's not to detract from the rest though. This is still a beautifully built car with a quality feel to the all the main controls along with impeccable fit and finish.

The interior of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate is dominated by a huge iPad-style 11.9 inch touchscreen that flows neatly into the centre console. It's a bright, clear high resolution display and works pretty much like any smart phone.


This is how the MBUX infotainment system (and pretty much everything else) is controlled and also means that there are very few other buttons in the cabin. That's good news for your OCD but not so good if you want to quickly turn up the air conditioning on the move. We'd prefer physical buttons for that.


To be fair, the climate functions are always displayed at the bottom, so maybe we're being a bit picky here, but it does highlight the dependancy on one screen. What happens if it stops working for instance?


The MBUX system itself is easy to navigate and intuitive enough, plus responds quickly to inputs. We think it's one of the best infotainment systems around. Like any touchscreen system, there are seemingly endless menus and settings, but likely only a few you'll use regularly. 


Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration is standard fit, which will be the default choice for many plus a wireless phone-charging pad and two USB sockets in the centre console. There are controls on the steering wheel, but rather than physical, these are touch sensitive, with varying success. It's almost impossible to turn the volume up a fraction, for instance. Instead you end up deafening everyone.


MBUX also features voice activation and it's one of the better ones. Say the words "Hey Mercedes..." followed by your request and it will do most things from setting a nav destination to turning up the air con. It's very clever, but whether anyone actually uses it without feeling like a fool, is another matter...

Mercedes has improved space throughout this generation C-Class Estate so as well as more headroom for those in the back (and more knee room), there's also a bigger boot. Carrying space has increased by 30 litres to 490 litres and 1510 litres with the back seats dropped.


That puts the Mercedes C-Class Estate pretty much on par with bootspace in the BMW 3 Series Touring (at 500 litres) and the Audi A4 Avant (505 litres).


Usefully, all models come with a standard electric tailgate and luggage cover. Loading large and awkward items is made easier by the wide opening and low load lip. We also like the underfloor storage which is handy for hiding items away, although this disappears on the C 300 e PHEV model. There are two useful hooks on the sides which stop shopping bags moving about every time you turn a corner.


Elsewhere, there are plenty of storage places with good sized door pockets front and back plus a split armrest in the high centre console. At the front of that there are two cupholders.


Unlike an SUV you can't recline the rear seats or slide them, but they do at least split 40/20/40 which is handy if you want to fold down one half with a car seat fitted to the other. Cleverly, if you have electric seats fitted, they automatically move forward when the back row drops down - and then return to their previous position when you put the seats back up.


In terms of the exterior, the 2021 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate's dimensions are 4755mm long, 1841mm wide (2033mm with mirrors) and 1494mm tall. 

Handling and ride quality: What is the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate like to drive?

"The C-Class Estate follows on from its predecessor in being very comfortable and refined, if not particularly dynamic to drive."

Mercedes C-Class Estate Review 2023

That's no bad thing of course. As a family car and long distance estate, the Mercedes C-Class Estate is an excellent choice. The supportive seats, minimal noise and comfortable suspension make this the perfect car for motorway miles.


True, a BMW 3 Series Touring is better in corners and feels more engaging, but we'd choose the C-Class Estate for covering big distances. The forgiving suspension makes for excellent ride quality and effortless cruising. It does a great job of ironing out uneven and rough road surfaces.


The steering is quick and responsive, plus nice and light at low speeds to make tight parking spots and three point turns a breeze. However, that steering is also anodyne and provides little in the way of engagement.


Aside from the AMG 43 model, this is not a car that encourages you to push it into a corner, yet it still handles well with plenty of grip and reassuringly safe stability. You can certainly take a high speed motorway slip road with plenty of confidence.


The nine-speed automatic gearbox that comes as standard on all models is very smooth but again, not really designed for sporty driving. It's much happier delivering almost imperceptible gear changes so you always have power when you need it. 

The stand out model in the Mercedes C-Class Estate range is undoubtedly the C 300 e. This plug-in hybrid version has a 25.4kWh lithium-ion battery - for context that's the same as the first generation Nissan Leaf. It means the C 300 e can cover up to 65 miles on EV power alone at which point the 2.0-litre petrol engine kicks in.


That's far more than the BMW 330e Touring which has a 37 mile battery range while a Volvo V60 T8 only has a 28 mile range. 


Alongside that are familiar Mercedes engines starting with the C 200, a 1.5-litre petrol with 200PS while the C 300 petrol is a 2.0-litre engine with 258PS.


The C 220 d and C 300 d are both powered by the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel. The 220 d has 200PS while the 300 d is boosted to 265PS with 550Nm of torque. 


Diesel may be no longer a popular choice for many, but there's a strong case for the C 220 d. It's very quiet, smooth and produces more than enough power for every day driving. It's easy to see why for many C-Class Estate buyers, this is still the default choice, especially when it's considerably cheaper than the C 300 e PHEV model.


The nine-speed automatic gearbox works supremely well with the C 220 d delivering incredibly smooth shifts for effortless progress. It's also very quiet.


The performance AMG 43 model is sadly no longer a six-cylinder as in the previous model. Instead Mercedes has downsized this to a 2.0-litre four-cylinder 408PS petrol.


All engines get the 9G-Tronic automatic as standard and come with mild-hybrid drive. This has 48-volt technology and an integrated starter-generator which adds 20PS. It can start the engine and provide a power boost when needed.

The Mercedes C-Class Estate is incredibly quiet. That's a given for the likes of the C 300 e PHEV, but what's most impressive is how hushed the C 220 d model is. Four-cylinder diesels aren't exactly renowned for their refinement, but thanks to improved sound deadening and that smooth nine-speed automatic, the C-Class Estate is incredibly quiet, both on start-up and while driving.


Even when the stop/start kicks in, it's barely noticeable, a far cry from older Mercedes-Benz systems. Get up to motorway speeds and the Mercedes C-Class Estate remains impressive with little road or wind noise upsetting the quiet cabin.


As we've already mentioned, the suspension set-up errs on the side of comfort, which is good news for refinement as the C-Class Estate doesn't crash over potholes and smooths out rough road surfaces well, insulating passengers from any vibration or harshness.

Like its predecessor, the latest Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate was awarded the maximum five star safety rating from Euro NCAP. This was specifcally for the saloon, but we can say with confidence that the estate version is equally as safe.


It scored strongly across the board with a 93% rating for adult occupant safety and 89% for child occupant safety. Tests on the front seats and head restraints demonstrated good protection against whiplash injuries in the event of a rear-end collision.


The Mercedes C-Class is fitted with an advanced eCall system which alerts the emergency services in the event of a crash. It also has a system which applies the brakes after an impact, to avoid secondary collisions.


All models come with a reversing camera with a large clear display. Mercedes-Benz C-Class AMG Line Premium models have a  360-degree camera with a 'bird's-eye view' of the area surrounding, augmenting the car on top.

MPG and fuel costs: What does a Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate cost to run?

"While diesel is the more expensive fuel to buy, the C 220 d still makes a lot of sense with 55+ mpg. However, the C 300 e is the one we'd choose thanks to its impressive electric range."

Mercedes C-Class Estate Review 2023

Thanks to its 65 mile range, the C 300 e is one of the best plug-in hybrids for battery-only range and in daily driving, most owners will rarely be using petrol power. In the absence of an electric C-Class Estate, this is the next best thing and a great car for MPG.


The C 200 petrol will average around 40mpg which is about the same as the more powerful C 300. With a 66 litre tank, you'll be seeing around 580 miles but at current fuel prices it will cost £100 to fill.


Go for the C 300 d and you should see around 52mpg. If you're tempted by the AMG 43, be aware that you'll only get around 30mpg.

The previous Mercedes-Benz C-Class didn't fare well in the 2022 Honest John Satisfaction Index, finishing as one of the worse cars for owner satisfaction. While owners' are impressed with the comfort, and refinement when it comes to running costs and repairs, it scored poorly. It's certainly far from being one of the most reliable cars out there.


In fact, the C-Class had one of the lowest scores for repair costs from owners', averaging at just 7.05 out of 10. A quick search shows that this is a common theme across many reliability and owner surveys. 


While this generation Mercedes C-Class is new, it's likely to follow a similar path so regular maintenance, albeit not cheap, is key. 

The Mercedes C-Class Estate is similar to its main estate rivals in terms of insurance costs. The cheapest model to insure is the C 200 petrol which starts at insurance group 33E. The popular C 220 d is between groups 35E and 38E depending on trim while the C 300 e is a group 45E. The performance Mercedes-AMG C 43 4MATIC Estate is group 44E.

As all Mercedes C-Class Estate models cost more than £40k new, you will unfortunately have to pay an extra £355 a year tax for five years. That's in addition to the standard annual VED rate of £165 (or £155 for the C 300 e).


The first year tax rate is worked out on emissions. Go for a C 220 d and it's only £180 but the C 200 and C 300 will cost you £575. 

How much should you be paying for a used Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate?

"Around £40,000 will get you behind the wheel of a 2022 Mercedes C 220 d AMG Line Estate with low miles"

Mercedes C-Class Estate Review 2023

The Mercedes C-Class Estate has always been a pretty popular seller, but being relatively new, the market is not yet flooded with examples. The cheapest and most common are C 200 and C 220 d models.


Your best bet at the moment is through a Mercedes-Benz dealer where you can get an Approved Used car with a 12 month warranty. Search for a used Mercedes C-Class Estate.

There are four equipment levels in the Mercedes C-Class Estate range: Sport, AMG Line, AMG Line Premium and AMG Line Premium Plus. A 9G-Tronic gearbox comes as standard on all cars.


Standard equipment on Mercedes C-Class Estate Sport and AMG Line models includes a 12.3-inch digital driver display, 11.9-inch central display, MBUX infotainment system, including wireless smartphone integration, LED headlights, heated seats, leather upholstery, Blind Spot Assist, rearview camera and wireless phone charging.


Mercedes C-Class Estate AMG Line Premium adds Digital Light, Parking Package including 360° camera, Memory package including electrically adjustable driver and front passenger seats, Keyless Go Comfort package and augmented reality for navigation.


Mercedes C-Class Estate AMG Line Premium Plus adds a Burmester 3D surround sound system, head-up display, Thermotronic automatic climate control, panoramic sunroof and access to music streaming services via MBUX.

Ask the heycar experts: common questions

The Mercedes C-Class has proved a below par performer in many reliability indexes and owner satisfaction surveys. In the 2022 Honest John Satisfaction Index, the C-Class was one of the least reliable cars with poor ratings for the cost of repairs as well as overall reliability.
There are plenty of Mercedes C-Class models on the used car market which means plenty of choice from cheap high mileage diesels to performance AMG models. It doesn't have a great track record for reliability though so it's important to check the servicing and maintenance history. But at the right price, the C-Class can be a good buy.
It's all down to personal preference and which type of car you want, but in general, a BMW is better for driver enjoyment and handling while Mercedes tend to be more comfort-biased.

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