The new Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate appears unlikely to come to Australia in this generation, on account of the declining demand for passenger wagons that saw its predecessor struggle to achieve adequate volume.
The load-lugging version of the E-Class sedan, a technological powerhouse that has achieved ripping sales since its July launch, will instead morph into a crossover for the Australian market, though conventional models are available in Europe.
This crossover is the brand new all-wheel-drive E-Class All-Terrain crossover derivative, set to launch locally in June 2017. It offers tougher styling, a higher ride height thanks to air suspension, soft-roading ability and diesel power.
Pictured: Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain
Mercedes’ strategy for Australia mirrors Audi, which axed the regular A6 wagon and now only sells the $112,855 A6 allroad crossover — clearly the E-Class All-Terrain’s main rival, alongside the imminent Volvo V90 Cross Country.
According to Mercedes-Benz Australia’s senior manager for product communications, David McCarthy, the E-Class All-Terrain should satisfy the coterie of loyal E-Class Estate buyers, while luring some incremental volume to the brand as well.
“We do around 100 units a year currently in the E-Class Estate [superseded model], and that’s really the sort of figure you need to do in that price range to cover your compliance, training etc,” he said.
Pictured: Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate cabin
“At this point the All-Terrain is an absolute definite. To bring in another model you have to make the business case for it and I think for someone who’s after an E-Class Estate, this will meet their needs, and we hope there can be some incremental volume.
“Particularly when you go to the snow, you see a lot of these wagons, non-SUVs, there’s definitely a market for them. Audi has proven that. They no longer offer a non-allroad estate — the volume in that segment isn’t huge.”
This also means that the company is unlikely to offer a Mercedes-AMG E63 S Estate derivative of the 450kW/850Nm V8 sedan we drove earlier this week, giving the Audi RS6 one fewer rival to worry about.
Pictured: Audi A6 allroad
Using the same recipe as rivals, the E-Class All-Terrain butches up the regular wagon design. Silver front and rear skid plates adorn the bumpers, while the wheel arches, skirts and bumpers are all covered in grained black plastic cladding.
At launch, the E-Class All-Terrain will only be offered in E220d four-cylinder turbo-diesel form, with 143kW of power and 400Nm of torque available. Zero to 100km/h takes 8.0 seconds, on its way to a top speed of 232km/h. Fuel use is rated at 5.1-5.2L/100km.
The E-Class All-Terrain comes equipped with 4Matic all-wheel drive as standard, increased ground clearance (up 29mm) over the regular E-Class wagon along with adjustable air suspension. Like the E-Class sedan and wagon, all E-Class All-Terrain variants will employ the company’s nine-speed automatic transmission.
Pictured: Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain off-road mode
Dubbed Air Body Control, the air-suspension system can be adjusted between 0mm and +35mm, with maximum ground clearance rated at 156mm.
Inside, the E-Class All-Terrain gets model-specific aluminium-carbon look trim, along with stainless steel sports pedals with rubber studs and floor mats with All-Terrain branding.
Note: We’ll be driving the new E-Class All-Terrain soon, and will bring you a review from the world launch. Stay tuned.