You’ll have probably noticed by now that the nights have drawn in and it’s getting colder outside: winter, inevitably, is on its way. No doubt your thoughts have turned to cosy nights in, comfy woolly jumpers, and Chri… No! Let’s not do that just yet, we’ve barely had Halloween!
My thoughts, inevitably, have turned to winter transport. How else am I meant to get all that extra shopping home? But I’m not exactly adverse to cosy and comfy either y’know. And I’ve no intentions of getting stuck outside in the dark in any of sort mud, floods, or – British tabloid and evening-telly-news horror-story-to-end-all-horrors – snow!
Hence perhaps my recent email to Mercedes Benz’s press office requesting the loan of their E-Class All-Terrain.
Of course, I could have just as easily requested the use of many a manufacturer’s SUV – there are after all a myriad of choices of such things. However, the E-class All-Terrain offers an alternative for those who…well…perhaps…don’t want to follow quite such a large and predictable crowd.
There, I said it. SUVs, you have to admit, they are becoming a tad samey.
But what if you actually need some of that extra ground clearance? What if you need the extra load-space? And what if you really do need four-wheel drive? (Instead of, sometimes, just the chunky looks that, more often than not, go with it).
Well, claim Mercedes Benz, that’s where the E-Class All-Terrain comes in. It is, as you can see a large family-oriented estate that offers not only a boot that’s more than capable of swallowing a demanding brood’s sales shopping or last-minute winter getaway luggage whilst simultaneously leaving enough space for the Labrador, but also has the ability to more than cope with the off-road demands of many an SUV owner. Admit it, when did you really last take your Q5, your X5, your Macan, or any other generic “Urban SUV” for that matter, really off the beaten track? Hmm…I thought as much. And I bet you’ve never towed anything with yours either. The E-Class All-Terrain incidentally comes with an electrically retractable tow bar as standard and the ability to pull a braked load of 2,100kg. Both of which proved very handy one wet Sunday afternoon when I just happened to pop out for and came back with a trailer. As you do…
I digress. Load lugging – and however competent it may be at it – is not entirely what this undeniably outdoorsy big Benz is really all about. It is to all intents-and-purposes a luxury – Mercedes-Benz always seem a cut above their more premium-orientated Bavarian rivals – and go (almost) anywhere wagon for those who’d rather not blatantly shout “Let’s off road!” every time we need to pop to Tesco. Hang on, this is a Mercedes, shouldn’t that say Waitrose? In fact, the only really visible giveaway the All-Terrain is not an entirely standard E-Class Estate is its sturdy plastic wheel arch cladding. It’s quite discreet really and quite easy to spec too.
Power comes from the only engine choice in the range, which just happens to be the silky smooth E400D. It produces 340bhp, and 516lbft of torque from barely above tick-over, so there’s more than enough oomph on the motorway, or should you choose to deploy that aforementioned tow bar.
When coupled to the only gearbox option, Merc’s 9 speed G-Tronic auto, that straight-six diesel also makes for very relaxed, near effortless, and if need be somewhat swift cruising. Covering big miles in hushed comfort is this car’s forte.
But the E-Class All-Terrain’s talent doesn’t run out when the tarmac does. You may have noticed its ride height. It sits 29mm higher than a regular E-Class Estate, boosted 14mm by some very attractive 20-inch alloys fitted with relatively high-profile tyres, and then a further 15mm thanks to a suspension lift. Ah yes, the suspension: the All-Terrain literally rides on air. And by selecting its All-Terrain mode you can raise it by another 20mm still. In fact, there’s even another setting above that should the going get really tough.
In all the E-Class All-Terrain offers a maximum of 156mm of ground clearance at speeds of up to 20mph – after which it automatically lowers itself. OK so that’s not the stuff of Range Rovers – but it’s more than enough to tackle an unpaved road, a soggy festival or gymkhana car-park, or snowy rural road. With a set of winter tyres – they’re so very this season dah-ling – the E-Class All-Terrain should be more than capable of coping with all that winter will throw at it. The standard fit Burmester stereo sounds magnificent, and Mrs B says the heated seats are nice and toasty too. Compliments all round then.
So, d’you still fancy that SUV? I thought not. You’ll need deep pockets: at £64,445 before options this most capable and comfortable of cars doesn’t come cheap. Perhaps you could put one on your Christmas list? But please tell me you’ll wait until after Guy Fawkes Night before you do.
MERCEDES BENZ E 400 d 4 Matic All-Terrain Edition
Engine: 2,926 cc 6-cylinder 24 valve turbo-diesel
Transmission: 9 speed G-TRONIC Plus auto. Four Wheel Drive
Power: 335 bhp @ 3,800
Torque: 516@ 1,200 – 3,200 rpm 0-62mph: 5.4 sec
Max Speed: 155 mph (electronically limited)
Mpg: 44.1(UK combined) CO2: 168 g/km
Price: from £64,445 otr (Car driven: £66,825)
Many thanks to Kate at Mercedes Benz’s UK press office for the loan of the E-Class All-Terrain