Mercedes E-class All-terrain
FIRST UK DRIVE E-class joins the high-riding estate fraternity with upmarket new variant
Rugged jacked-up estate joins exec car line-up
THE fifth-generation E-class has already proven itself as one of the finest choices in the executive market. Now Mercedes has expanded the range to fill another niche: the jacked-up, soft-roader estate.
Car makers such as Audi and Volvo have offered tougher, higher-riding versions of premium wagons for years. But this is new territory for the E-class All-terrain – although Mercedes’ knowledge of off-roading with its G-badged SUVS should hold it in good stead.
The brand has played it safe by offering the All-terrain as a lone model with a single engine choice. It gets a 3.0-litre diesel that sends power to the 4MATIC all-wheeldrive system via a nine-speed dualclutch gearbox. There’s no doubting the powertrain’s refinement and performance; and the six-cylinder motor under the bonnet barely makes a peep – no matter how the car is driven. The gearbox is slick and alert, and takes on the job of swapping cogs with a swift but soft approach.
Flicking the drive select switch into Sport mode ratchets things up a little, with more responsive throttle inputs and weightier steering. But while it’s sharp enough, the AllTerrain doesn’t feel at its best when driven with gusto. On the road, this car is about comfortable cruising – a role it executes well, thanks to the supple ride granted by the standard all-round air suspension. It’ll only rebound with slight harshness if you go looking for trouble, or by throwing the car at the largest rough spots in the road.
The heightened E-class can also venture surprisingly far off the beaten track. It’s no Land Rover Discovery, but the All-terrain drive mode and 4MATIC set-up mean that the Mercedes can head fairly comfortably down muddy, rocky tracks, even with a trailer. Keep things below 19mph, and the suspension remains propped up as far as it can go, resulting in a respectable 156mm of ground clearance.
The tech inside and out is excellent, too, especially if you’re eying up the All-terrain as a vehicle to pull a trailer. An electronically retractable tow bar is standard, while the reversing camera boasts selectable viewpoints, making backing up easy. However, you can’t tow as much as in rivals; Mercedes has rated the maximum braked weight at 2,100kg, while the Volvo V90 Cross Country D4 and Audi A6 Allroad manage 2,400kg and 2,500kg respectively.
Elsewhere, the All-terrain inherits the standard E-class’s plush interior, with two 12.4-inch cabin displays sprawling across the dashboard. This model is more expensive than its Audi and Volvo rivals, but it’s a higher-quality car than the V90 and much fresher than the ageing A6. Pay the premium and you’ll be rewarded with the plushest, most modern off-road estate on the market.
On tarmac the All-terrain is a great cruiser, and it’s surprisingly capable off-road
NEED TO KNOW There is no fourcy lin de rE220d All-terrain for the time being – only this sixcy lin de rE350d