There are good and bad points inside, with comfortable seats - especially the sports ones on the higher trims - and a good driving position being plus points. Quality, too, is a major positive, with dense, high-grade materials that give you a plush feel.
The large 10.25-inch infotainment screen displays the car’s main functions, and the system is pretty easy to use if you use the central rotary dial, but it does look like a tablet has been glued to the dashboard, rather than being an in-built screen integral to the car. You can also operate many functions through the steering wheel controls, but it does mean the wheel has a vast number of controls - 16 in fact, plus two extra touch pads - which makes for a rather distracting experience. There are even more controls on the bespoke steering wheel of the C63, which allow you to scroll through various driving modes and engage various driving systems, but these are really well designed and are a doddle to use considering the wide variety of functions they operate.
Obviously, boot space
is the main reason that estate
cars exist, and the C-Class Estate’s isn’t the largest, with the 460 litres stacking up pretty poorly against all the car’s main rivals, the BMW 3 Series
Touring and Audi A4
Avant. However, it is a nice, flat, square space, with a netted area to one side to keep small items from rolling around. All cars get 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats to enlarge the load area, with a switch to drop the seats from the rear of the car, but they don’t drop entirely flat.
What’s more, given some cars in this class are a bit short in rear passenger space, the C-Class performs well, and will carry four big adults without drama. The narrow middle seat and bulky transmission tunnel means life won’t be quite so comfortable for a fifth, but at least the seat cushion is flat rather than being raised and rounded like it is in some rivals.
The suspension you get on your C-Class depends on which version you pick. Sport Edition is lowered compared with the standard saloon, while the AMG Line is both lowered and stiffened. It’s actually the AMG Line that’s the best, even though it’s firm; the Sport’s bouncy ride is less appealing.
Don’t let the names fool you, though; the C-Class is more comfort-orientated than sporty, prioritising the ability to cover long distances in a relaxed manner, but it’s still sure-footed and composed enough to be entertaining on a quiet back-road run. The top two trims can also be upgraded to air suspension as an optional extra, which tailors the suspension set-up according to which of the five driver modes – from Comfort to Sport+ – you select. It works really well, filtering out even the worst bumps and potholes, while providing a marked improvement in agility.
We’ve also had a shot in the high-performance C63 version, which doesn’t have full-on air suspension, but does have an adaptive one that can also vary its behaviour according to which mode is selected. The range of different modes is rather dizzying, with six main ones, four for the torque vectoring system that distributes drive across the rear wheels, plus no less than nine modes for the clever traction control system that allows varying degrees of slip on the back end. Using the various profiles isn’t as complicated as it sounds, though, and the technology means that the C63 can play a variety of roles with impressive polish. It can be a civilised and comfortable cruiser, an agile and alert sports car or, if you turn everything up to eleven, an absolute foamy-mouthed, tail-sliding lunatic.