Mercedes E-class All-ter­rain

FIRST UK DRIVE E-class joins the high-rid­ing es­tate fra­ter­nity with up­mar­ket new vari­ant

Auto Express - - Contents - Ja James Brodie Jame James_brodie@den­nis.co.uk @Jim­my­brods

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

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