The wagon is new from the B pillar back, and, aesthetically speaking, that’s where some of its problems start.
Mercedes will not appreciate hearing it compared to a hearse, yet from the wrong angle (i.e from 5ft 8in high, looking at the back, side-on) there’s definitely something regrettably suggestive about the estate’s mismatch of roof and window line.
Its rivals – especially those from Volvo and BMW – are undeniably better looking. But neither lives up to the C-Class’s superior internal ambience.
If the exterior takes Mercedes striven-for somberness to funereal levels, the interior bats it effortlessly back toward supreme tastefulness. Save for a stuck-on infotainment screen posing as a cheap tablet (and the utterly woeful Garmin satnav system that appears on it), the innards are polished, brushed and tenderized to a premium tee.
That much we knew from the saloon, of course, but the estate better rounds off the experience with the appreciable addition of airiness to the rear.
Not that the more commodious ceiling adds a significant amount of extra luggage space with the seats up: the estate being only 15 litres larger. It doesn’t fix the C-Class’s slight stinginess on legroom either.
It is much more accessible, though, and if you tug on the boot-mounted seatback triggers, there’s 1510 litres of near-flat loadspace on offer – more than you’d find in a V60 or 3-series Touring.
To drive, the estate doesn’t particularly alter the W205’s sensitivity to spec or its dynamic inferiority to the BMW. Featured here (despite the Sport trim) is the conventionally sprung ‘comfort’ suspension, making the C 220 plumply refined on the motorway, decently cultured on smooth A roads – and then, over biting, uniquely British obstacles, a little more baffled than expected.
Quicker progress is met more benignly than it would be in a 3 Series Touring thanks to the poorly weighted Direct Steer system and the dampers’ initially indulgent wallow (even in Sport+ mode) – although its stability and ultimate balance aren’t ever seriously in question.
While the estate’s weight gain is negligible on paper, its 2.1-litre four-pot could honestly do without the extra effort.
It pulls cleanly – especially through its 295lb ft mid-range – yet the quoted 7.6 seconds to 62mph time seems incredibly optimistic (given we were half a second down on that to 60mph in the saloon we recently road tested).
The combined 64.2mpg economy and 115g/km CO2 emissions remain blue-ribbon claims, but it’s more apparent than ever that Mercedes’ stock diesel engine is a generation behind, for example, the new 2.0-litre unit powering the cheaper Volvo V60.