Wagon for the well-off

Not ev­ery­body wants an SUV, writes PAUL GOVER

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page -

THE mid-sized Benz fam­ily is fill­ing fast. The lat­est E-Class sedan and coupe are al­ready on the road, the go-fast E63 AMG is con­firmed for later in the year, and now comes the sta­tion wagon.

There will also be an E-Class cabri­o­let, which should land in the first quar­ter of 2010 at al­most the same time as the E-Class Es­tate re­vealed this week.

First pic­tures of the wagon show very lit­tle change from the sedan, apart from the ob­vi­ous stuff around the tail. Still, the car is smoother than the Es­tate it re­places, with in­no­va­tions in­clud­ing a sys­tem that lets the rear seat-backs be folded us­ing han­dles in­side the rear tail­gate.

The wagon ex­tends a 30-year fam­ily line and, even with small sales in Aus­tralia, it is ex­pected to do well.

‘‘The Es­tate is tra­di­tion­ally about 6 per cent of E-Class sedan sales, but we have a very strong, loyal buyer group that comes to us spe­cially for the E-Class Es­tate,’’ Peter Fe­dayev of Mercedes-Benz Aus­tralia says.

‘‘His­tory has shown they much pre­fer an es­tate ver­sion of a sedan car as op­posed to a lux­ury SUV. There are some strong con­cen­tra­tions of Es­tate buy­ers in par­tic­u­lar cities, to the north in Syd­ney and the east in Mel­bourne.’’

The wagon has a car­ry­ing ca­pac­ity of up to 1950 litres and picks up the in­creases in passenger space from the E sedan.

Nine airbags are stan­dard and, though Benz is yet to con­firm the lo­cal spec­i­fi­ca­tions, ev­ery­thing from a drowsi­ness warn­ing and au­to­matic emer­gency brak­ing to lux­ury cabin gear is avail­able in Europe.

The me­chan­i­cal set-up of the wagon is al­most iden­ti­cal to the sedan’s, apart from stan­dard self­lev­el­ling sus­pen­sion at the rear, but the en­gine choices will be lim­ited.

‘‘Cus­tomers can ex­pect a choice of four and six-cylin­der en­gines,’’ Fe­dayev says, without men­tion­ing petrol or diesel power.

‘‘The Es­tate gets all the tech­nolo­gies the new sedan gets. The dif­fer­ence be­tween the sedan and the Es­tate is the lug­gage space and the avail­abil­ity of a third row of seats.’’

Fe­dayev says the Es­tate is ex­pected to ar­rive about Fe­bru­ary next year.

There is no news yet on cost, though the start­ing price for the new E220 sedan was cut to more than 20 per cent less than that of the pre­vi­ous model.

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