WHEN I was a boy spending my Saturday mornings begging local car dealers for brochures and posters, my biggest thrill always came from stepping through the doors of the Mercedes showroom.
To me, it was the epitome of luxury motoring.
Many, many years later I still get a buzz from sliding behind the wheel of a car with the three-pointed star on the front and it was no exception with the C-Class estate.
I was hooked the moment my backside connected with the lush manmade leather driver's seat.
The award-winning C-Class is Mercedes' best-selling model in the UK and it's easy to see why.
With its S-Class inspired styling and the sporty AMG Line extras, its simply exudes class, comfort and quality. The BMW 3 Series Touring may be a better ‘driver's car' but the C-Class has much more character. It is a statement.
With a boot capacity of 1,480 litres - 460 with the rear seats up - it's not the largest load lugger available but it's a practical, nimble, relaxed and cosseting family mover.
This latest version has been around since 2014 but was refreshed in 2018 to keep it competitive.
Leaving aside the high-performance AMG models, it comes in three generous trim models SE, Sport and AMG Line - and with a range of petrol, diesel and diesel-electric engines.
The 1.5-litre petrol engine with EQ boost technology is a new addition to the line-up. When needed - for a speedy overtake or some such - this mild hybrid system gives the Merc an extra 14hp to push it along. It only comes matched with Mercedes' latest 9G-Tronic automatic gearbox.
SE models come as standard with Agility Control comfort suspension, Collision Prevention Assist Plus, reversing camera, a tablet-style, easy to use 10.25-inch media display, heated front seats, DAB radio, and satnav. Sport adds comfort suspension lowered by 15mm, LED high-performance headlights, and sports seats while the AMG line includes 18-inch alloy wheels, chrome roof rails, sports suspension, AMG mimicking bodystyling, AMG sports seats and sports braking system with perforated front brake discs.
The car was fitted with a Premium Plus equipment package costing around £5,000 which included wireless charging, a 360-degree camera, a top-notch Burmester surround sound system, keyless entry and a panoramic sunroof.
The interior is plush and roomy with plenty of gloss black plastic and metal switch gear. There's plenty of room for four adults - five at a push - and loads of adjustability built into the driving seats and steering wheel so all shapes and sizes can find a comfortable position.
As a family car, safety is imperative with seven airbags as standard alongside a range of features such as tyre pressure monitoring, traction control and drowsiness alert. There's also an Argos catalogue sized list of optional equipment such as lane-keep assist and autonomous braking.
Because of the Agility Control suspension, the C-Class is pretty good to drive. Flick it into Sport mode and the suspension sharpens up noticeably, giving you strong enough body control to hustle the car along a twisty road at a fair old lick. Grip levels are high but there's a fair bit of body leans in the corners.
Set in Comfort mode, it is, as you would expect from such a reassuringly expensive vehicle, hushed and smooth - a true autobahn cruiser.