TELL ME ABOUT THIS CAR
Mercedes-Benz is giving the long-lived but now-dying large luxury wagon concept some much-needed relevance with an All-Terrain injection. Based on the all-new, sixth-generation S213 E-Class Estate wagon, it boasts all-wheel drive, a higher ride height, the obligatory plastic body cladding, and tougher grille/bumper inserts for a more rugged lifestyle-enhancing look, to help lure buyers away from the dominating big luxury SUVs. Tellingly, the E220d All-Terrain will be the only E-Class Estate on offer as well, meaning it’s the large luxury wagon’s last stand – at least, as far as the Stuttgart brand is concerned.
Unparalleled safety: The latest E-Class is at the cutting edge of safety technology, including semi-autonomous active driving systems that can steer or brake the car out of harms way like no other production vehicle before it – and this means the All-Terrain scores all these advancements as well. No SUV can match this.
Real car driveability. Unlike similarly priced large SUVs, the $110,000 E220d steers, corners, road-holds, and brakes like a Mercedes-Benz passenger car (which means, superbly!), so it is deeply rooted in luxury wagon dynamics. Better still, nothing rides as quietly or comfortably this side of an S-Class limousine thanks to trick air suspension. The All-Terrain is brilliantly refined.
Is this the best-ever Mercedes interior? Lush materials, striking design, and new levels of technology incorporating advanced multimedia and communications systems makes the E220d All-Terrain feel like a true luxury conveyance. Cocooning seats, ample space, and a massive luggage area denote this as first-class travel as a result.
Efficient powertrains. For Australia, the All-Terrain will only be available (initially at least) with an all-new all-aluminium 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel that, combined with fuel-saving tech like stop/start and streamlined aerodynamic bodywork, provides strong mid-range performance and incredible economy of around 5.2L/100km (on the Euro cycle). Plus it’s eerily refined for a diesel – you’d never tell from inside the car.
Doing your own thing. Not just a statement of success, the All-Terrain’s crossover concept says something about non-conformity as well as considered intelligence, since the E220d is superior in virtually every important way compared to most large SUVs – including Mercedes’ own GLE.
More power please. While the E220d’s 143kW/400Nm 2.0-litre four-pot turbo-diesel is strong in the mid-range, exceptionally economical, and uncannily quiet, it needs more off-the-line power to overcome some unexpected lag.
Some fiddly ergonomics. Why does Mercedes persist with the auto column shifter that’s too easily knocked out of gear? Also the multimedia screen controller is ugly and confusing to operate, at least at first.
Perceived value. At around $110,000, the E220d will have a fight on its hands convincing buyers to abandon their bigger, heavier, and more lumbering SUVs, even though the truth is obvious that basing a crossover on the world-leading E-Class can only yield a superior car in terms of safety, refinement, driveability, dynamics, and efficiency.
Expensive options. The E220d All-Terrain in the pictures provided can become quite pricy when you add a sunroof, Nappa leather upholstery, motorised front seats, spunky 20-inch alloys, premium audio systems, and a whole host of other desirable options.
ANY RIVALS I SHOULD CONSIDER?
Against its natural large luxury crossover competitors, the E220d All-Terrain should easily outclass the now-ageing Audi A6 Allroad quattro that clearly inspired it, especially in the areas of ride comfort, safety technologies, and driving dynamics, though the Audi does have a gutsier V6 TDI turbo-diesel.
The only other rival is the upcoming Volvo V90 Cross Country, and that should be a far more equal opponent to the Mercedes-Benz in size, safety, comfort, and performance, so it might be worth waiting for that one when it is released not too long after the E220d All-Terrain arrives in about May 2017.
Finally, the only large SUV that might give the Benz a worry is the hugely impressive Audi Q7, but only with optional air suspension to approach the All-Terrain’s terrifically cushy ride.