Road Test: Mercedes-Benz C220 CDI Executive SE estate
Sector: Upper-medium Price: £29,505 Fuel: 60.1mpg CO2: 124g/km
The vast majority of the C-Classes that you see on the road are in Sport trim; all big alloy wheels and bulging bodykits to make them look more like the potent AMG models in the range.
This works well among user-choosers, giving them a sporty-looking model without having the expense of fuelling the mammoth V8 petrol engines that you find under the bonnet of the AMG versions.
But Sport trim, or AMG Sport and AMG Sport Plus as they are now known since a model year action earlier this year, add hefty premiums on to the basic price of a C-Class, adding £2,000 to go from entry-level Executive SE to AMG Sport, then a further £1,000 to get to range-topping AMG Sport Plus.
For the majority of image-conscious user-choosers, these are premiums worth paying for, especially as the price differences are not as marked when it comes down to monthly lease rates.
But for some people a basic Executive SE riding on tiny 16-inch wheels will do them fine, even if this trim level means the C-Class loses much of the road presence of its sportier stablemates.
While the small wheels and less stiff suspension set-up may not give the car the looks or roadholding of the sportier models, the payoff is very good ride comfort, having little of the jarring and banging that Germanic sports saloons generally offer.
Coupled with a smooth automatic gearbox and frugal turbodiesel engine, the C220 CDI Executive SE makes for a comfortable and economical estate choice. Only a noticeably noisy engine at start-up spoils matters.
There’s not much in the way of toys to keep drivers happy, although Executive SE trim comes with a sport grille, 16-inch alloy wheels, artificial leather upholstery and LED daytime running lights, all for a price increase of only £35 over the previous SE grade.
There are also new interior and exterior features, including revised colour options, repositioned cruise control and indicator stalks and easier-to-read graphics for the telematics screen. The telematics system in conjunction with the COMAND voice activation system now includes eCall to report the car’s position to a call centre via GPS in the event of an emergency.
This version of the C-Class appeals to the sensible minority of user-choosers. For me and, seemingly, most of other C-Class drivers, the general rule seems to be the sportier the better.