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SUV practicality mixed with executive car luxury. Can the All-Terrain make this work?
4MATIC all-wheel drive, Dynamic Select, Air Body Control
Manufacturers such as Volvo and Audi have all offered more rugged versions of their executive estates over the last few years, meaning that the E-Class All-Terrain is entering a market with some already established competition.
Mercedes' offering comes with 4MATIC four-wheel drive and a specific all-terrain driving mode to help the estate tackle more challenging roads, while sitting 29mm higher than its E-Class estate counterpart. The suspension configuration and large 20-inch wheels with higher sidewalls meanwhile, further increase ride comfort on the rough and challenging English country roads in the Sheffield Downs, where we tested the car for the first time.
At £58,025, it's not a budget option; the car we tested ran to £60,575 with the optional driving assistance package added, compared to the Volvo V90's £50,000 pricetag but slightly cheaper than the Audi A6 Allroad at £58,040.
The E-Class All-Terrain comes generously equipped as standard with a Burmester surround sound system, a Keyless-Go comfort package, Air Body Control air suspension; panoramic electric sunroof; Mercedes' Comand Online with a 12.3-inch infotainment display and 12.3-inch cockpit display among the highlights.
Inside the interior is plush as to be expected but the silver detail on the dash is a bit marmite. The interior certainly does look modern, though, especially with the standard dual-12.3in screens that appear as one long display for the digital instruments and the infotainment display, which we were very impressed with.
The new model is every bit as practical as the E-Class estate, with the same load capacity of 640 litres or 1,820 litres with the rear seats folded, and standard 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats. This tops the 560-litre boot offered by the V90 Cross Country.
As with all E-Class models, the All-Terrain has Dynamic Select as standard. This features five driving programmes, each offering different engine, transmission and steering characteristics.
Unlike on some cars where driving modes rarely offer much of a noticeable difference to the driving style, there are significant differences between modes such as Comfort, Eco and Sport. The most noticeable difference is when flicking the drive select into Sport mode which makes the throttle more responsive and gives more weight to the steering.
A comfortable cruiser
Where this E-Class is most comfortable is cruising on the motorway but its also more than equipped to venture further afield too. Its All-Terrain drive mode and 4MATIC all-wheel-drive setup means that it can tackle thick mud and rocky surfaces like it's second nature.
Selecting the All-Terrain driving programme raises the chassis by a further 20mm using the standard Air Body Control up to a speed of 20 mph, giving it that much needed ground clearance on the challenging country roads.
The refinement and performance of the powertrain is obvious as soon as you put your foot down for the first time and the engine is quiet no matter how you're driving. The nine-speed automatic gearbox is refined and swift and makes for a pleasurable and smooth ride too.
The All-Terrain will be launched in the guise of this 258hp four-cylinder diesel engine and a short time later, Mercedes says a six-cylinder diesel engine is set to follow. Both will come with the new 9G-TRONIC nine-speed automatic transmission as standard.
On the whole-life costs front, the E-Class holds its value and comes out on top of its Audi A6 AllRoad competitor with an RV of 34.3% compared to the Audi's 31.9%. The equivalent Volvo, the V90 Cross Country, has a lower P11D of £50,000 but a slightly lower residual value of 33.8%.
CO2 is a vital consideration for fleet managers and the E-Class actually has the highest out of its close competitors, reaching 179g/km compared to the V90's 177g/km and the A6's lower 172g/km.
But how does it compare to the E-Class without All Terrain capabilities, and do we think it's worth the compromise? In fact, the All Terrain has a pretty large CO2 penalty compared to the two-wheel drive estate in AMG-Line, bumping up the CO2 by 15g/km. Meanwhile the mpg of the All Terrain totals 41.5mpg compared to the two-wheel drive estate AMG-Line's 46.3mpg. Head to the lower-powered E220d and the savings are considerably more too.
For those after estate practicality and a dash of legitimate off-road competence in an executive car package, the Mercedes E-Class All Terrain is undoubtedly one of the best choices out there. Whether the All Terrain abilities are worth the penalties or the inevitable £5330 price hike on the AMG-Line though, we're unsure.