New Mercedes E-Class All-Terrain 2017 review
Don't want an SUV, but still want rugged off-road ability in a luxury package? The new Mercedes E-Class All-Terrain could be the answer
For those after SUV practicality and a dash of legitimate off-road competence in an executive car package, the Mercedes E-Class All-Terrain is a fine choice. The jacked up looks and cladding may not be to all tastes but it’s sumptuously finished inside and well equipped. The powertrain is impeccably smooth and ride quality excellent, but that’s expected given the near £60k price tag.
The fifth-generation Mercedes E-Class has already proven itself as one of the finest choices in the executive segment, and Mercedes feels confident enough to guide the current incarnation of its long-time BMW 5 Series rival into a new niche sector; the jacked up, soft-roader estate class.
Far from being a new market sector, carmakers such as Audi and Volvo have offered tougher versions of their A6 and V90 executive estates for a number of years. As such, the new E-Class All-Terrain hits the UK market with a couple of established rivals to dethrone.
With this being the first time the E-Class has received obligatory plastic cladding and a raised ride height, Mercedes has played it safe by offering the All-Terrain as a single model with a single powerunit choice. Under the bonnet is a turbocharged six-cylinder 3.0-litre diesel sending power to the 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system via a nine-speed dual-clutch gearbox.
There’s no doubting the powertrain’s refinement and performance; the six-cylinder motor under the bonnet barely make a peep no matter how the car is driven. The nine-speed dual-clutch gearbox is slick and alert, and takes on the job of swapping cogs with a swift but soft approach.
Flicking the drive select into Sport mode ratchets things up a little with more responsive throttle inputs and weightier steering. While it’s sharp and powerful enough to feel mildly entertaining, the E-Class All-Terrain doesn’t feel best put to use when driven with the verve and gusto suggested by the Sport mode. On the road, this car is about comfortable cruising – a role it executes excellently thanks to the supple ride granted by the standard front and rear air suspension. It’ll only rebound with a slight hint of harshness if you go looking for trouble, throwing the car at the largest undulations and rough spots in the road.
The tech inside and out is excellent, too, especially if you’re eying up the All-Terrain as a tow car. An electronically retractable tow bar is standard fit, while the reversing camera system boasts selectable view points, making the job of backing up accurately to a trailer easy for novice towers. However, just how much you can tow isn’t as generous as rivals; Mercedes has rated the maximum braked towing weight at 2,100kg, meaning on paper it’s bested by the capacities of the Volvo V90 Cross Country D4 and the 3.0 TDI Audi A6 Allroad.
The All-Terrain can also venture surprisingly far off the beaten track, too. It’s no rough and ready off-roader, but the All-Terrain drive mode and 4MATIC all-wheel-drive setup means that it can head fairly comfortably up and down muddy, rocky tracks, even with a trailer in tow. Keep things under 19mph, and the air suspension remains propped up as far as it can go, resulting in a respectable 156mm of ground clearance.
Combined with the plush interior of the E-Class, with two 12.4-inch cabin displays sprawling across the dashboard being standard fit, the All-Terrain feels like a convincing premium product for the great outdoors. It’s more expensive than its Audi and Volvo rivals, but it’s a higher quality item than the V90 Cross Country and much fresher than the ageing A6 Allroad. Pay the premium, and you’ll be rewarded with the plushest, most modern off-road estate on the market.