The SUV sector is running rampant, but not everyone is buying. Some want something perhaps a bit lower-key if not lower on the road, but they still want all that practicality, ability and space. And for them Mercedes has built the E-Class All-Terrain which in theory does what it says on the tin.
You get all the immense cabin space and luxury of the normal E-Class Estate but you also gain some off-road ability, four-wheel drive and some chunky bits of bodywork. This is in the mould of the Audi A6 Allroad or Volvo’s V90 Cross Country, and at £58,880 as the entry point, there should be plenty to like. But what do real drivers make of it? We let some loose and here’s what they thought.
In theory Brian Farmer, a company director, should be the target market as he needs a car to carry dogs, to go off-road and to be practical and spacious as he likes to shoot. However, he was less than enthralled with the headroom, partly compromised by the panoramic sunroof. He also felt there should be a seven-seat option as there is in the normal estate version.
The car only has one engine, and that’s the 245bhp diesel in the E350d, and Farmer felt that was too restricted a range, with too high a price tag. However, he liked the looks a lot, and, apart from headroom, the cabin really impressed.
Neil Cumins also loved the interior, particularly the digital dashboard, and he reveled in the feeling of a really premium product. However, he was wary of how the carpets and boot would age given the presence of dogs, rain and mud in his native Scotland.
But for those conditions the All-Terrain’s all-wheel drive got a big thumbs up, as did the smooth running of that diesel. The only real downside for him was the lack of a spare wheel. Given road conditions in rural Scotland, punctures and blowouts are not unknown, and he’d be uneasy without proper back up.
IT director Marek P loved the car, particularly the cabin. He was also the only person to discover you can sit in the boot and not get hit in the head by the tailgate. “Having a proper covered picnic area is rare in an estate car these days,” he commented.
He found the driving seat extremely comfortable, although he didn’t like the armrests so much. Overall the cabin really ticked the boxes, as did the rest of the car. As he put it: “There’s not a lot I don’t like; it’s not as garish as some rivals.”
However there was one big cloud on the horizon for him and that was the entire future of diesel. Until he could see which way that cloud is going to blow he’d hold off buying a new diesel car.
But horses for courses – that diesel engine with the auto transmission and all-wheel drive was a major attraction for Alex Grieve. He felt the engine was a good match for the car, and would come into its own when carrying lots of people and luggage over difficult terrain.
It’s not as if he’s a stranger to Mercedes – he’s owned nine of them. But this is the first one that he felt ticked all the boxes he needed, although, like Brian Farmer, he was not impressed by the low roof brought about by the panoramic sunroof and, like Neil Cumins, he was not at all impressed by such a large, luxury motor having just a tyre repair kit rather than a proper spare wheel.
Graham Scott is a writer for WhatCar.