What is it?
It’s the latest weapon in the impressive arsenal of Mercedes’ new E-class: the estate. We recently concluded that the E-class saloon has a (very narrow) edge over BMW’s latest 5-series, the first time it has enjoyed that status in a fair fight in over 20 years. And now the wagon – arguably the strongest variant – is starting to fill dealerships.
And believe me, it will fill them to bursting point. This latest E-class estate is even longer than its predecessor, at 4895mm long and 2071mm wide, including mirrors. It’s not made for nipping in and out of high street parking bays, in other words.
Still, the trade-off for this bulk is a class-leading load capacity. With the rear seats up, the boot capacity is 695 litres, but lowering them yields a vast 1950 litres. Oh, and there’s another 112 litres under the boot floor on top of (or underneath) that.
The price you pay for this is a premium of £1750 over the equivalent saloon – which seems fair for the extra practicality.
What’s it like??
There’s got to be a catch to all these positives, right? No. In pretty much every way – from the less awkward looks to its even more planted feel – the estate is the pick of the E-class range.
Up front, there’s little to indicate that you’re in a huge estate, apart from the sight of a distant wiper in your rear-view mirror. The latest E-class’s neat, classy fascia is present and correct, and the control weights are as much of a delight here as they are in the saloon. That does mean that the steering is a teeny bit on the light side, particularly around the straight ahead, but it’s still gloriously smooth and linear.
Our example came in with the most obvious engine choice, Mercedes’ 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel, and at no point did it feel like it was struggling to cope with a kerb weight just 75kg shy of two tonnes. Mercedes claims a 0-62mph time of 7.2sec, and it sounds about right.
E-class estates come with self-levelling air suspension at the rear as standard, and the system hooks up well with the regular springs at the front. The ride is composed on all but the worst urban potholes, and motorway cruising is an impressively relaxing experience. Body control on twistier routes is better than you might expect, too.
In keeping with tradition, the new E-class estate can be had with seven seats. For an extra £960 you can add two leather-trimmed, rear-facing child seats, which fold into the boot floor when not required, returning the load space to that of a modest aircraft hangar.
Neat design touches in the storage end include an electric tailgate, an electric luggage cover that moves automatically up and out of the way to widen the load aperture, and handles near the boot opening that allow you to release the rear seats without having to clamber inside.
In front of the load bay, there’s room for four six-footers to travel in comfort – thanks, in part, to neatly sculpted seat backs.
Should I buy one??
Okay, so there are some small downsides. The amphitheatre behind you does amplify road noise to a slightly louder volume than you’ll find in the coupe or saloon. And the seven-speed automatic ’box can be a little clumsy at times, introducing an annoying delay when pulling away from junctions.
But these are minor blemishes on a very fine scoresheet. The E-class saloon may hold a small advantage over the 5-series saloon, but on this strength, BMW will have to work miracles with the next 5-series Touring to avoid a rout.