First Drive: Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate
Impressive refinement from the new diesels and great to drive, reckons John Kendall.
SECTOR Executive PRICE £37,395-£40,430 (E 220 d only) FUEL 33.6–67.3mpg CO2 109–192g/km
As day follows night, Mercedes‐Benz was certain to follow up the impressive new E‐Class saloon with an estate variant; a part of the line-up that’s been popular since its first executive load-carriers appeared back in the late 1970s.
Based on the latest saloon, and sharing many of its drivetrain options, it’s packed full of clever features befitting the extra space. These include a three-piece backrest which can be set 10 degrees closer to vertical, increasing the cargo capacity by 30 litres, rising to a maximum load space of 1,820 with all sections folded flat. Later this year, it will gain a rear-facing folding bench seat for two children, set in the boot floor – a feature of earlier E‐Class estates. Space is plentiful, though the rear bench is not as generous as it is in the saloon.
Most of the petrol line-up won’t be offered in the UK, at least from launch, though the 180bhp E 200 and 207bhp E 250 are starting to look viable at 138g/km CO2. British buyers will be able to choose the 396bhp AMG E 43 4MATIC; an unlikely fleet option, but impressive at 194g/km.
Diesel engines are the CO2 champions, and the core of these will be the new four-cylinder 2.0‐litre units, comprising the 148bhp E 200 d and 194bhp E 220 d. Both emit 109g/km CO2 and return 67.3mpg combined. Topping off the diesel range is what must be regarded as a stopgap model, the 258hp 350 d powered by Mercedes’ 3.0‐litre V6 engine. The new four‐cylinder diesels are the first of a new family of engines and the V6 will be replaced in time by new in‐line six‐cylinder diesels.
Standard equipment includes self‐levelling rear air suspension, with all‐round air‐suspension on the options list. All E‐Class estates will be equipped with Mercedes’ own 9G‐Tronic nine‐speed automatic transmission as standard.
Overall, the E‐Class estates weigh around 100kg more than the saloons. Mercedes has used a neat visual trick to make the estate look modern and sporty by including a sloping side window line at the rear, while keeping the roof‐line long to maximise interior space. It works for both design and practicality. Inside, the estate will be familiar for anyone already familiar with the saloon, with the same dashboard, instruments and controls. I was pleased to see that the foot‐operated parking brake has gone, replaced by an electrically operated system.
The jewel in the crown is the new four‐cylinder diesel, which is one of the smoothest and most refined I have driven. I drove the V6 E 350 d, followed by the E 220 d and once the car is on the road, it is very difficult to tell the two apart from the driving seat, making the E 220 d a particularly attractive fleet option, with high power, low emissions and excellent refinement.
The E‐Class offers spacious five‐seat accommodation, not as much as the Skoda Superb, for instance, but the finish, refinement and driving excellence offered by the latest E‐Class estate make it one of the most desirable premium estate cars available.
The E-Class estate offers an impressive blend of comfort, refinement, accommodation, practicality and driving pleasure. It’s a premium estate car to desire.