Mercedes-Benz has released the E-Class All-Terrain — its take on a rugged estate. Ryan Hirons finds out what it's like.
What is it?
Premium estate cars equipped for off-roading are certainly something of a niche in the current car market, and is one that has been cornered off by Volvo and Audi since the mid-2000s — until now
Introducing the Mercedes E-Class All-Terrain, the Stuttgart-based manufacturer's answer to the V90 Cross Country and A6 Allroad.
The All-Terrain gives the E-Class Estate rugged looks and go-anywhere ability, while maintaining the practicality of the standard vehicle.
New additions include a 29 millimeter higher ride over the base machine, as well as larger tyres to allow it to cope on rougher terrains and an electronically deployable tow bar as standard.
There's also a new driving mode, coincidentally named All-Terrain, that can raise the ride height further while also adjusting the car's electronic systems to allow it to tackle the dirty stuff
What's under the bonnet?
There's only engine option on offer for the E-Class All-Terrain at launch — a 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine, developing 254bhp and 620Nm of torque. It propels the estate from 0-60mph in six seconds and up to an electronically limited top speed of 155mph.
Despite the large amount of torque and relative pace of the car, it's far from a performance-focused engine. It's built to cruise along at 70mph, with barely a whisper coming into the cockpit for proper 'waft-ability' — although the more-than-ample mid-range torque means it pulls well enough, especially thanks to the smooth and responsive transmission.
What's it like to drive?
The All-Terrain is a car built for a countryside lifestyle, which is reflected in the driving experience.
Soft suspension, light (but not overly so) steering and a quiet ride makes it perfect for covering long distances on country lanes and A-roads — especially thanks to the engine being perfectly set up for that kind of driving.
A variety of driver assists make town driving easy too, despite the raised height and size of the vehicle. Active parking assist, active braking and attention assist (which detects drowsiness in driving) are all standard features.
Go off-road, and that's when you'll want to select All-Terrain mode. This raises the estate's air suspension and adjusts its electronic systems to optimise it for rougher terrains — and it actually works.
We spent a good portion of our time with the car taking on some dirt tracks around the Yorkshire moors and it handled almost everything with no problem, also thanks to the excellent 4Matic AWD system — although do bear in mind it's no Land Rover Defender and as a result, does have a tougher time with really muddy spots.
It's worth noting that All-Terrain mode can only operate up to 20mph, after which the car will begin to lower without warning — but you can limit the speed via the cruise control stalk if you so wish.
How does it look?
Don't expect a design revolution here — what've you effectively got is a rugged-looking E-Class estate.
Although that's no bad thing. It's a handsome machine, and the aesthetic tweaks indicate toward a go almost-anywhere ability, while retaining an overall classy visual. It's a cool-looking thing and wouldn't seem out of place at any country club.
The one questionable addition to the visuals is the addition of 20-inch alloy wheels — which seem odd on a vehicle designed for rugged terrains and also serve to detract from its off-road ability.
What's it like inside?
The E-Class All-Terrain remains comfortable and luxurious inside, despite the more rugged focus.
Leather seats and upholstery are prominent throughout the cabin, and creates a plush atmosphere in combination with a 64-selectable colour ambient lighting system.
Our test car did also have aluminum interior trim, but this looked totally out of place and also felt cheap to the touch. A wood option is also available and to us, would have been preferable.
There's tons of practicality, too. Boot space totals 640 litres with the rear seats up — compare that with 560 litres with the V90 Cross Country and 565 in the Audi A6 Allroad, and it's a class leader.
What's the spec like?
The E-Class All-Terrain is generously equipped as standard — as would be expected on a £60k estate car.
Out-of-the-box equipment includes a host of driver aids including active parking assist (which includes reverse cameras), active braking and attention assist, as well as cruise control with a variable speed limiter.
There are also electric heated front seats, a panoramic sunroof, keyless entry, an automatic tailgate and Mercedes' Comand infotainment system with a 12.3-inch display and an electronically deployable tow bar.
If you're in the countryside, and need something to cover plenty of back roads while also being capable of taking on the occasional rough track, the E-Class All Terrain may just be perfect for you.
It offers bags of practicality, a luxurious experience, plenty of equipment and puts it all in a well-refined package that can take anything that will be thrown at it on a regular day-to-day basis.
It's no SUV, of course, and shouldn't be treated as such — but it's all the car most will ever need, though it does come with a price tag to match that.
FACTS AT A GLANCE
Model: Mercedes E-Class All-Terrain
Price as tested: £61,470
Engine: 3.0-litre V6 diesel
Power (bhp): 254
Torque (Nm): 620
Max speed (mph): 155
0-60mph: 6.0 seconds
MPG (combined): 41.5
Emissions (g/km): 179