Wagon for the well-off
Not everybody wants an SUV, writes PAUL GOVER
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.