All-Ter­rain? Maybe. Mo­tor­way? Yes

What­ever else it can do, the E350d is bril­liant at get­ting you to the end of your jour­ney ready for any­thing.

CAR (UK) - - Our Cars - By Ben Oliver

TRAV­EL­LING FAIRLY calmly and in a mostly straight line might not seem the most de­mand­ing of tasks, but some cars man­age it far bet­ter than oth­ers. It’s an over­looked and un­der­rated tal­ent, given how much of our driv­ing is on multi-lane roads. My Merc’s mo­tor­way mileage has been rack­ing up rapidly of late, with trips to North­ern Ire­land, north­ern France, Wales and the Isle of Man, some of which you’ll read more about in com­ing is­sues.

It’s hard to think of a bet­ter car for the job. Un­der the All-Ter­rain cladding this is still an E-Class, and the defin­ing pur­pose of the E-Class has al­ways been to de­mol­ish big au­to­bahn jour­neys. Sure, an S-Class may be qui­eter and more spa­cious in­side, but these are by-prod­ucts of its main pur­pose, which is to be luxurious, which brings penal­ties of weight, size and cost. I’m not say­ing that the E-Class is light, small or cheap, but it’s per­fectly op­ti­mised for its main pur­pose: rapid in­ter-city trans­port.

The All-Ter­rain comes on air springs as stan­dard, which helps with steady-state ride comfort and noise, and my car’s op­tional Driv­ing As­sis­tance Plus pack­age al­lows the car to self-steer and ex­e­cute lane changes au­tonomously, sub­tly re­duc­ing the strain of a long trip. Seat comfort is su­perb too – this from a man with a spring in his spine. In Eco mode, which de­cou­ples the trans­mis­sion to let the car glide down hills, the E350d will re­turn some­thing close to its claimed com­bined con­sump­tion of 41.5mpg, and I get around 450 miles be­tween fills.

This isn’t just about be­ing pam­pered. Any new car will carry you along a mo­tor­way. But if you do these trips reg­u­larly, the E-Class will de­liver you in a bet­ter state and able to do more. An ex­am­ple: I cy­cled a lap of the Isle of Man be­fore putting the car on the Steam Packet ferry for the two and a half hour cross­ing to Liver­pool. After the ride, I was dread­ing my five-hour drive south and planned a ho­tel stop half­way. In­stead, I was feel­ing so fresh in the E that when a friend rang and asked if I wanted to join a night out in Brighton, I agreed, di­verted, and stayed up un­til 6am. Not, per­haps, why Ger­man ex­ec­u­tives have long loved the E-Class, but a good illustration of its abil­ity to do a sim­ple thing well.

Ben on a team out­ing with fel­low mem­bers of the Ca­sual Park­ers Club

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