MERCEDES-Benz has thrown a pair of designer-brand gumboots at its all-new E-Class wagon as it attempts to woo luxury buyers who like the looks of an SUV, but don’t necessarily want the extra bulk of one.
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain is a new spin on the German carmaker’s mid-size luxury car, bound for a reveal at next week’s Paris Motor Show, as it prepares a model to sway buyers looking at either an Audi A6 Allroad, or queueing up to buy a Volvo V90 Cross Country after it launches next year.
The higher-riding, all-wheel-drive E-Class – it sits about the height of a 20-cent coin taller than the regular E-Class estate – uses a few traditional off-road cues, including larger wheels with taller sidewalls on the tyres and a black plastics along the wheel wells and lower sills that elevate the car visually.
It also uses the same Three-Point Star grille as Mercedes-Benz’s growing family of SUVs rather than the one used on the road-bound E-Class, and lifts the same switchable off-road function underpinnings as used by the GLE-Class SUV range.
Rather than scream of an active outdoor life, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain features an urban-focused interior, although there’s different floor mats and stainless steel scuff plates in high-use areas for those days it sees dirt beneath its tyres.
Underneath, it has air suspension that allows the car to rise high enough to clear large puddles, and lower to almost kiss the kerb – all at the press of a button.
Diesels are de rigueur in the SUV segment, and the E-Class All-Terrain turns down the same track. When it arrives in Australia sometime next year the high-riding E-Class will use a 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine producing 143kW and 400Nm, enough under-bonnet poke to allow it to behave more like a passenger car than an SUV.
If you’re prepared to wait a bit longer, a more powerful six-cylinder engine is being prepared for the All-Terrain, with more details on that engine due later.
If you can’t wait, Audi sells its mid-size station wagon-based A6 Allroad quattro featuring a more powerful diesel V6 under its bonnet from $111,510. And if you can wait, Volvo will have its Nordic-tall V90 Cross Country joining showrooms, providing a tantalising alternative
If that sort of outlay kills the escapist dream, don’t fret. The Skoda Octavia Scout, based on the Octavia wagon, delivers the same outdoorsy message but with a $32,990 starting price. Likewise, the ruggedly styled Volkswagen Passat Alltrack offers a bit more sophistication for a $49,290 outlay.