My bias will be showing in this review. Yes, it’s a Mercedes-Benz wagon. Yes, I love them.
Review and photos by Tom Sedens
Friends of ours will know that we’re quite partial to Mercedes-Benz wagons. This one here is a beauty. It’s the new C-class wagon. While other C-class variants, the sedan and the coupe, are available in more powerful renditions, like the C43 and even the fire-breathing C63, the wagon line starts and ends with the C300 version. Nothing wrong with that whatsoever, although there will always be griping about not being able to get the more powerful versions here. Well, people, start buying more wagons like they do in Europe and we’ll start seeing more variations of them here.
This wagon looks awesome. I’m a fan of Mercedes’ new styling direction, and while some have termed the look as “droopy butt”, I don’t mind it at all. Regardless, the wagon resolves that issue handily as you won’t find a droopy butt on it.
It has an assertive stance, and the sculpted lines look better than the C-class sedan’s in my opinion. My review car’s LED headlights looked great and are very effective as they actively paint the landscape in white light, following your steering wheel’s lead. And those 18-inch 5-spoke AMG rims are a great touch.
I’m a wagon guy through and through, so you don’t need to sell me on this thing, but I was surprised at how much appreciation this car got from onlookers. A number of people nodded to me, gave me a thumbs-up or even walked over and asked what it was – saying they liked it.
The new C-class’ modern and sculpted interior is one of my favourites, and is really a triumph of form and function. The materials are first-rate, with soft touch surfaces most everywhere and the open-pore ash wood trim is fantastic. The steering wheel is heated and is an ergonomic delight to use. I loved the heated ARTICO leather (read: not real leather) upholstered front seats – they’re comfortable and very well bolstered too.
The tablet-like screen is vivid and has beautiful contrast, although its tacked-on appearance isn’t for everyone. I don’t mind the floating screen look. It’s not a touchscreen – you use the COMAND system, which isn’t exactly intuitive from the start. But after the somewhat steep learning curve, it starts making sense and moving through the system using the touchpad and/or rotary button becomes part of your routine. The Burmester system has become a commonplace option in Mercedes review cars, and it continues to impress me. Cabin comfort is handled by the dual-zone automatic climate control system.
We enjoyed the three colours of ambient lighting. My review car’s driver assistance technology was pretty decent – it included blind-spot monitoring, a 360-degree camera with parking sensors all around, attention assist and collision prevention assist. Considering Honda and Toyota throw it in with even their most base models, it’s a shame that lane departure warning and assist and adaptive cruise control are still optional here – and none of these were included in this nearly $58,000 car!
Here’s the fly in the beautiful C300 wagon’s ointment. Sure the trunk is bigger (we’ll get to that), but the rear seats are still cramped. The outboard seats are reasonably comfortable, but they felt a bit upright for my taste. And even though the head room is fine, and it feels airier than it is back there thanks to the massive panoramic sunroof overhead, there’s no denying that the leg room is very limited. At 5’10”, my knees were half an inch from the front seats. And the middle seating position is miserable. It’s tiny and straddles a massive driveshaft tunnel. The best thing to do with it is fold down the middle seatback – it becomes a handsome armrest, with cupholders and a nicely carpeted storage bin. Suffice it to say, my three kids were not impressed with the C300 Wagon.
Rear passengers get side window sunshades, a 12V plug and an ashtray (thank goodness!), as well as adjustable air vents. If you’ve got little ones, who would be complaining less about the lack of space, there are two sets of ISOFIX anchors for child seats.
The cabin is standard C-class fare, so there are a few places to put your stuff. The front of the console houses a pair of cupholders and an ashtray (with lighter!) under a beautifully sculpted lid. The clamshell lid of the armrest opens to reveal a shallow but useful bin, complete with two USB plugs. The door bins are rubberized and carpeted on the sides, so those help.
The real story here is the hands-free power tailgate (kick your foot under the trunk to pop it open if your arms are full) and what’s behind it. You start with a 490L trunk, complete with a retractable, removable tonneau cover. There’s also a retractable pet divider mesh to keep Fido in the trunk. There are buttons in the trunk and on the pillars inside the rear doors that allow you to flip down the rear seats, creating a massive 1510L space.
Under the Hood
Mercedes’ turbocharged 2L 4-cylinder (putting out 241 HP at 5,500 RPM and 273 lb.ft of torque available at a wonderfully low 1,300 RPM) is the C300’s mill. It’s a sweet engine and MB is using it all over the place – for good reason. Here it’s paired with a 9-speed automatic transmission and 4MATIC all-wheel drive. It is rated at a very decent 10.7/8.0 L/100 km (city/hwy) although we averaged a sobering 12.6 L/100 km. In the C300’s defense, three of our days with it were spent slugging through fresh, deep snow at bumper-to-bumper commuting speeds, often inching along as the drive to work on one of those days took 2(!) hours. Not exactly ideal fuel saving driving conditions.
The engine provides plenty of power, off the line and for the mid-range. Stepping on it from a standing start makes for an exuberant launch – the car sprints from 0-100 km/h in 6.1 seconds but it feels faster than that – and there is plenty of passing power at any speed.
I found the transmission to be outstanding in its smoothness and intelligence. It never heads to the highest gears unless your cruising at highway speeds, so it’s always felt like it was in the right gear for the situation. Gears can be shifted manually with paddles. The 4MATIC all-wheel drive was seamlessly efficient – invisible on dry roads and very effective in snow and on ice.
You can choose from different driving modes, using the Dynamic Select toggle – the modes are Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual. These impact the responsiveness of the powertrain and the transmission.
The suspension is very nicely sorted for a little sport wagon. It’s firm but compliant enough such that it’s comfortable over any surface. Yet the car handles beautifully, and you can easily throw it into the curves with abandon, knowing that the C300 will handle it easily. The steering isn’t the most involving, but it’s direct enough that you know where things are headed and you’re not likely to take this car to the track so it’s suitable for the C300’s mission.
The C300 was quite quiet around town, although there’s a little distant snarl from the engine when you step on it. It stays reasonably quiet on the highway too, although I think the winter tires had a bit to do with the increased noise level at higher speeds.
WAF (Wife Approval Factor) was through the roof. If you know us, you know Mercedes-Benz wagons are our thing. This little thing caught my wife’s eye from the get-go and she loved everything about it – until the kids started complaining about the space in the rear seat.
I loved this car for myself. It’s a spacious, versatile wagon with plenty of efficient power on tap. It’s luxurious and modern, and looks stunning. But I can’t overlook that it’s pricey, particularly when you start adding option packages – and even then, optioned as it was (which wasn’t fully loaded), certain things are missing. And there are those rear seats. If you can handle those shortcomings, this is a wonderful vehicle and I would love to own one myself.
Thank you, Mercedes-Benz, for giving Canadians a wagon to love.
Please keep sending them, and I’ll keep trying to convince Canadians to buy them. They’re awesome!
Disclosure: Vehicle was provided by Mercedes-Benz Canada.
If you enjoyed this review, feel free to check out my other vehicle reviews under the car reviews tab at the top of my blog.
Pricing: 2018 Mercedes-Benz C300 4MATIC Wagon
Base price: $46,000
Options: $5,000 Premium package; $2,300 Premium Plus package; $890 Selenite Grey paint; $250 heated steering wheel; $475 satellite radio; $250 dark ash open-pore wood trim; $1,000 Burmester sound system
Price as tested: $57,865