Inside the C-Class Estate, the attractively styled dashboard, high-grade materials and appealing colour schemes create a homely atmosphere. Surfaces with pleasant tactile qualities, precision edges and tight radii set the tone for the cabin’s high-quality ambience.
Depending on the chosen appointments, the two-tone colour scheme, with the darker, contrasting colour continued from the upper section of the dashboard to the door linings, extends as a feature right into the load compartment.
Each model line has a unique interior finish: aluminium trim and Liverpool cloth/Artico upholstery in Sport models; eucalyptus wood and Artico upholstery in Elegance models; and an elegant high-gloss black and Brighton cloth upholstery combination for SE.
Leather upholstery is available as an option for £955 on Elegance models and £1,295 on Sport models.
Seats: long-distance comfort as standard
The levels of comfort and freedom to move inside the new C-Class Estate match the exemplary standards set by the Saloon and are made possible by a longer, wider body. Passengers also sit slightly higher than before, and together with the larger front door aperture and the new shape of the seat cushions in the rear, climbing in and out is now even easier.
Long distance comfort has been enhanced by a new front seat design in which more prominent side seat bolsters and firmer foam padding used in the outer edges offer good lateral support, with the inner area of the seat cushion and seat back deliberately made softer and with an increased depth of foam.
Finding the optimum driving position is made possible by a steering column adjustable for height and reach, and front seats with electrically adjustable height and backrest angle and manually-adjustable fore-and-aft position and seat cushion angle. Driver’s seat lumbar adjustment relieves the strain on back muscles. At 290 mm, the new C-Class Estate boasts the longest longitudinal seat travel in this market segment.
Front seats with more pronounced cushion and backrest side bolsters affording greater lateral support are standard on Sport models.
A Memory Package comprising front seats, steering column and driver’s door mirror electrically adjustable with three memory settings is available as an option for £950, while the ultimate in luxury is provided by multi-contour front seats (£310) which allow occupants to adapt the contours to suit their anatomy or personal preferences. This is made possible by separately controllable air chambers beneath the seat padding.
The rear seat features a centre armrest with an integral stowage compartment and two cup holders as standard.
The illuminated glove compartment has a capacity of 6.4 litres and accommodates a 12 volt power socket and a jack for connecting an external audio device such as an MP3 player.
Logical displays designed for clarity
The main analogue dials with their chrome bezels, black faces and white markings are illuminated in white and each incorporates an additional display – a clock in the water temperature/fuel gauge dial; total and trip mileage, plus any warning messages within the central speedometer; and outside temperature within the rev counter. The display functions can be selected using four buttons on the multifunction steering wheel.
In Elegance and Sport models, the instrument cluster is linked to an enhanced multifunction steering wheel with 12 buttons and in the centre of the speedometer there is a 4.5-inch display whose upper section can be used to show a variety of information such as the odometer reading, range, oil level, distance and time travelled, average fuel consumption, average speed, radio station selected and telephone numbers. If a navigation system is installed as part of the optional Audio 50 APS system, this display area also shows route directions.
The buttons on the right-hand side of the multifunction steering wheel are used to adjust the volume, switch to mute and operate the car phone. Below is an additional button with which the driver can activate the Linguatronic voice control system (see below).
The colour display in the centre of the dashboard and standard on all models is linked to an aluminium controller on the tunnel console which can be used to operate the audio and navigation systems or the telephone. Rotating the controller selects the main and sub-menus in the display, pressing it confirms the relevant function. A clear menu control structure makes it simple to use; alternatively, there are direct selection keys in the centre console.
State-of-the-art technology: Bluetooth standard across the range
Mercedes Benz developed three new infotainment units for the C-Class: Audio 20, Audio 50 APS and COMAND. They all feature a keypad for entering telephone numbers and radio frequencies, as well as a standard Bluetooth interface which allows mobile phones to be connected wirelessly to the hands-free system.
The Audio 50 APS system (£1,075 (SE) or £995 (Elegance and Sport)) also features pan-European DVD navigation using arrow symbols for route guidance. With the COMAND multimedia system (£2,075 (SE) or £1,995 (Elegance and Sport)), the navigation data is stored on a hard disk. A high-resolution map which can be viewed from different perspectives appears on the tilting colour display. The COMAND also comprises a DVD player with an integral six-disc DVD changer, a music server able to store up to 1000 MP3 tracks, and a PCMCIA slot which enables various PC memory cards to be connected.
The Linguatronic voice control system is automatically included on C-Class Estate models equipped with the Audio 50 APS plus the six-disc DVD changer or with the COMAND system. One of the most sophisticated voice recognition systems available – it requires 10 Megabytes of computer memory to operate – the new improved system is now able to recognise whole-word commands when entering a destination, selecting a radio station or calling up a name from the telephone directory. The driver no longer needs to spell out the names of countries, towns or roads, for example, but is able to speak them as whole words instead.
The system has undergone an exhaustive ‘learning’ process to enable it to cope with the variety of pitch, speed and local accents likely to be encountered in any particular language.
Linguatronic also lessens the driver's workload, making it easier to concentrate on what's happening on the road ahead.
As a £560 option, passengers can also enjoy Logic7 surround-sound which Mercedes Benz developed in conjunction with harman/kardon. The system delivers three-dimensional sound as a natural 360-degree musical experience for all passengers, from both DVD and CD and regardless of whether the source was recorded in 5.1 surround or normal stereo. The audio signals are distributed via a 450 watt amplifier connected to 11 speakers plus a bass box in the load compartment's side trim.
Climate control: three-zone comfort is a first in this model class
Enhanced performance dual zone automatic climate control is standard on all models and features air vents with enlarged cross-sections which reduce the speed of the airflow and the risk of irritating draughts. There are 16 air outlets and with the exception of the defroster vents below the windscreen and the air outlets in the footwells, the quantity of air passing through each is incredibly adjustable.
An optional three-zone system at £470 is the first to be offered in thiS-Class and allows rear seat occupants to select their own temperature settings. It also features an automatically controlled, upward-pointing diffuser nozzle in the dashboard, which provides indirect and therefore draught-free ventilation. Thanks to a dewpoint sensor, inflowing air can be cooled and warmed up again if required, depending on its moisture content. This makes the air conditioning system all the more economical.
Sliding sunroofs: panoramic effect now available for Estate passengers too
In addition to the optional tilting/sliding glass sunroof (£910), the C-Class Estate is offered with a panoramic sliding sunroof, whose glass surface covers almost twice the area and extending from the windscreen right back to the load compartment. At the touch of a button, the front section of the glass roof rises up and slides to the rear over the fixed section, while a wind deflector pops up at the front. The moving section of the panoramic sliding sunroof can also be moved into a tilted position (£1,295).