Running an estate car over the past six months has given me a clear reminder of the immense practicalities of this kind of car, even more so than the car of the moment, the SUV. It struck me that there is still a willing market for low-level load carriers, such as the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate, among the dog-owning middle-classes.
I understand why SUVs are so popular – our main family car is a Volvo XC60 – but as the owner of a basset hound and miniature schnauzer I’ve discovered they have downsides that include making me lift almost 25kg of wriggling canine above a good 76cm to put her in the boot. The C-Class makes it that little bit easier, as the load level is almost 20cm lower and the boot floor is completely flat. Owners of large dogs, particularly ageing ones, will certainly appreciate the difference. What’s more, an integral storage net on the left of the boot becomes the perfect place to stow leads and water bowls.
Thanks to the existence of Facebook and WhatsApp groups for myriad different dog breed enthusiasts, switched-on carmakers could easily target this demographic. From what I’ve witnessed at our monthly communal walks, where our C-Class is one of many estate cars present, many prefer the safe practicality and prestige of premium-brand estate cars to the risk of being fashionable, but suffering a bad back.