What will ordinary motorists make of a high E-Class Estate for occasional adventurers who don’t like SUVs?
In case you haven’t seen one of these before, may we introduce you to the Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain. It’s a roomy, high ground clearance estate and an interesting alternative to the ubiquitous SUV.
Like the Audi A6 Allroad and Volvo V90 Cross Country, the E-Class All-Terrain delivers robust styling, a grunty engine and four-wheel drive. Only one engine is offered, the 254bhp E350d diesel, and prices start from £58,880.
The normal E-Class Estate is a fine car, but how will this jacked-up version go down with the kind of real-life motorists who are looking to buy in this market?
Brian Farmer (four stars)
61-year-old company director Brian Farmer currently drives an Audi A8. He’s always had Audis and is on the point of changing his car. Needing to carry dogs and go off-road on shooting expeditions, his natural choice would be the Audi A6 Allroad, but this Mercedes option is also interesting him.
His first impression was of a “very good-looking” car. “One of the things I would have preferred is to get colour-coded cladding around the edges,” he said, “but I like the new-style grille, as it links in with some of Mercedes’ SUVs.
“There’s not as much head room inside as I thought there would be, but that might be down to the panoramic roof. Having said that, I think the interior is brilliant and the dashboard looks really good.
Brian thought a seven-seat option would make sense, to mirror that option on the E-Class Estate. He’d also welcome a wider choice of engines and trim levels. The biggest obstacle for him was the price. “I’m not sure whether that’s competitive enough with what other people can offer.”
Neil Cumins (five stars)
Another company director, 39-year-old Neil drives a Volvo S60 in Scotland, but he’s always liked the Mercedes brand. “The Scottish roads near to where I live aren’t suited to rear-wheel drive in winter, so I’ve always brought front or four-wheel-drive cars,” he said. “The E-Class All-Terrain offers most of what I’m looking for: its four-wheel drive will be good in winter, it’s spacious and it’s from a prestigious brand with a good reputation for reliability.”
Neil noted the car’s elegance, but had expected it to be a bit higher up. “A Volvo V90 Cross Country has better ground clearance,” he said. Having said that, he thought the Mercedes felt like a quality product. “The engine feels very smooth when you start it up.”
A gadget fan, Neil was impressed by the E-Class’s digital instrument cluster. “It’s over-engineered, to a degree. You can zoom out to see the entire planet Earth on the sat-nav map. It’s a very sophisticated car and it’s advanced enough that in two years’ time it will still be up to date.
He wasn’t so sure about how well the boot carpets would hold up to dogs and shopping or mountain bikes. “They look fantastic, but after two years of daily use they could be looking worse for wear.” He was also unsure about the absence of a spare tyre. “Having had a couple of blowouts, I would be very hesitant to buy a car that didn’t have a spare tyre.”
Overall though he pronounced himself as “definitely interested” in buying an All-Terrain. “From what I’ve seen, it ticks every box.”
Marek P (four stars)
IT director Marek (54) drives a BMW 3 Series. He’s looking for a car that will ride over speed humps well, because there are plenty in his neighbourhood. It would also need to be spacious enough for kids.
His first thoughts were on the good interior detailing, and the fact that the driver’s seat was so comfortable (“that’s rare for me”). He liked the quality feel, having plenty of space behind the driver’s seat when it was set in his preferred position, and “not being hit on the head by the tailgate if you sit in the boot”. Marek also appreciated having “a proper covered picnic area… that’s rare for an estate car these days.”
He wasn’t so keen on the door armrests up front – “they don’t go back far enough” – or the car’s “super-aerodynamic shape”, preferring the higher dimensions of the old E-Class. “There’s not a lot I don’t like, though,” he added. “It’s not as garish as some rivals.”
For Marek, the biggest putoff was his uncertainty about diesel as a fuel and whether he would be penalised for driving one. “I need to know what’s going to happen there before I decide.”
Alex Grieve (four stars)
71-year-old retiree Alex is presently driving a Skoda Superb, so any replacement would need to have “decent space inside” along with an automatic gearbox, a diesel engine and four-wheel drive.
“I’ve always been keen on Mercedes as a brand – I’ve owned nine previously – but until now there wasn’t a lot that satisfied those criteria.”
He thought the All-Terrain’s build quality was “extremely good” and also praised features such as the electric seats, “which are useful if lots of people are going to drive it”. Alex also rated the diesel engine as a good match for the car, “especially if you’re going to be carrying a lot of luggage over rough terrain”.
Like Neil, he didn’t like the fact that there was a tyre repair kit rather than a spare tyre. “If a tyre is shredded then you’re stuck.” He was surprised to find his head wasn’t far from the ceiling. “I’m not a tall person but the panoramic sunroof does reduce the height on offer.”