Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: March 9, 2018
Wagons are a scarce commodity here in Canada. We much prefer the higher seating position and superior cargo room offered by those jacked up SUVs, but there are still a few automakers that invest their time and money into satisfying the unique needs of wagon lovers. There is the BMW 3 Series Touring wagon, the Audi A4 Allroad, Volvo V60, and now the Mercedes-Benz C-Class wagon, which is back for the 2018 model year.
Mercedes only offers the C-Class Wagon in one trim, and one trim only, sadly. So do not expect an AMG tire-slaying 63 variant to show up on our side of the pond. On the bright side, Mercedes still offers an E 63 AMG wagon, so not all hope is lost. The C 300 4MATIC is what Canadians get, and is actually well equipped straight out of the box with their run of the mill 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that delivers 241 hp and 273 lb-ft. All-wheel drive is standard, as is a 9-speed transmission, which was recently added to the C-Class lineup.
The C 300 4MATIC wagon starts at $46,000, only a reasonable $1,300 more than the equivalent sedan, a bargain for that extra cargo room if you ask me. However, crossover lovers may find solace and justice in their purchase of the GLC 300, as it cheaper than the wagon by a whopping $100.
With that extended roofline that wraps around to the liftgate, the C-Class now appears more mature and professional. It is no longer the slinky skinny lean sedan that it once was. The rear end is a hit or a miss with most people. In my eyes, there are too many horizontal elements with that chrome bar running the width of the wagon. Be that as it may, I still think it is one of the most pleasing looking wagons on the road. The Sport Package does spice things up a bit with a more aggressive front and rear bumper, along with 18-inch wheels and flared side panels. It also adds a slightly stiffer sport suspension, along with larger front brakes and perforated four-piston calipers.
This is a wagon after all, so the interior is a crucial point to evaluate. I won’t argue with you if you want to list all the “better” attributes about an SUV like its higher ride height and “safer” feeling up there, but the wagon also has its own virtues. The C Wagon offers impressive cabin space, less than the GLC but only by a hair. The wagon also makes folding the rear seats a breeze. There are switches right next to each of the rear seatbelts and one on each trunk side which will flick down the rear seats in a split second. Of note, the switchgear is of the same high quality material as the ones you get up front for the windows, and are not some plasticky buttons that Mercedes found in the spare parts bin. Excellent touch, and it goes a long way in making owners feel like their car is that much more premium.
Another area where the wagon excels over the sedan and SUV is rearward visibility. In the wagon, the rear windscreen is larger and flatter, meaning you get a nice unobstructed view of what’s behind you. Not that you will really need it, as the standard rear view camera and optional 360-degree camera views have you covered during low speed and parking maneuvers. In fact, the only fault I found with the wagon was its low loading height, making it difficult for my six-foot frame to load and unload heavy items, something I did not have a problem with in the taller GLC. The hands-free liftgate is a noteworthy addition, and will automatically open the trunk when you wave your foot underneath the rear bumper.
I know a lot of our readers adore the interior of the C-Class but I am impartial to it. The steering wheel is a great size and well padded, but that center console that waterfalls down into the cupholders not only wastes precious room that could have been utilized for storage space, but it looks tacky with that infotainment screen just plastered on the dash and appearing like an afterthought. Worse still, when you flip open the panel that hides the cupholders, you can’t store anything meaningful in there if you want to close back the panel - its depth is incredibly shallow.
Mercedes has relocated their gear shifter to the steering column to free up center real estate but it feels like a missed opportunity to make the center stack more of a functional than a design statement. That is not to take away from the fact that the interior is extremely well put together. Fit and finish is above par in this segment and I cannot stress enough how expensive the switchgear feels. And no wonder, you will find the same stuff in the S-Class.
As the sole powertrain option, it is a good thing that Mercedes has nailed this setup to the tee. That four-cylinder engine and 9-speed transmission are married at the hip and stick together like white on rice, never missing a beat on shifts and tagging RPMs at just the right time. The C 300 Wagon is slightly faster than the GLC 300 from 0-100 km/h by three-tenths of a second as well. The wagon is also more fuel efficient thanks to a more aerodynamic shape and the fact that it weighs 80 kg less. This is definitely one of the smoothest four-cylinders on the market and I take my word back about wanting a C 43 Wagon - not necessary when a base four-cylinder powertrain has this much zest.
Another wagon advantage is when it comes to handling. Thanks to a lower ride height and lower center of gravity, the C wagon does not feel cumbersome around corners and body roll is relatively minimal. You really do feel that weight difference between the SUV and wagon, and the suspension aptly keeps ride quality in check with a comfortable and floaty ride. It’s no 3 Series corner carver, but it is one hell of a long distance cruiser.
The Mercedes-Benz C 300 Wagon is a compelling SUV alternative for those looking for practicality but in a sleeker package. The wagon may fall short when it comes to powertrain options, the low loading height for taller folks, and overall cargo space, but it makes up for these minor faults with better handling, quicker acceleration, and the ease of rear seat folding.
Model: 2018 Mercedes-Benz C 300 4MATIC Wagon
Paint Type: Selenite Grey ($890)
Base Price: $46,000
Price as Tested: $56,865
Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,702 / 1,810 / 1,462
Curb weight (kg): 1,705
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder
Horsepower: 241 hp @ 5,500 rpm
Torque: 273 lb-ft @ 1,300 - 4,000 rpm
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 11.1