A mighty all-rounder with the pace to humble a Ferrari 360 and the space to swallow a family.

The trouble with a car like the E55 estate is that you could end up liking it too much. You could even end up not wanting to drive anything else, because there isn’t a whole lot within the motoring spectrum that the E55 estate doesn’t do – and do well.

Yet despite this car’s very clear breadth of abilities – its clever load area, seductive styling, the quality of its cabin and its sheer practicality as a load lugger – what defines it outright has little to do with the sensible things in life. If you want space and grace from your E-Class estate, you buy the E270 Cdi. But if you want pace, you buy the E55, because pace is what the E55 does best.

How fast is it compared with, say, a Ferrari 360 Modena? In the real world, faster. You think I’m joking; I’m not. Okay, how about a Lamborghini Murciélago? Surely that would top the E55 in a traffic light GP? Nope. Not unless you made the perfect getaway and nailed every gearchange to within a millimetre of the rev limiter (not easy in a Murciélago, trust me).

So, assuming you now understand the full magnitude of what happens when you put your foot to the beautifully trimmed floor, what are the bad points about the 55 estate? Not many. The good news is that they’ve sorted the chassis and provided the estate with at least 92 per cent of the saloon’s ride and handling composure. The bad news? So long as £63,635 causes you to smile and not weep, there isn’t any really.

Inside, there is little you can criticise and much you can admire. Mercedes has thought hard about the load area, and the result is a genuinely huge, and in places rather clever, estate car: 650 litres with the seats in place, 1950 with them folded away (which they do collectively or individually). 

The tailgate is electric and folds up and away at the press of the key-fob button, and the spare wheel is big enough to get you home at more than the usual 50mph. As all-rounders go, it’s hard to think of a better one than this.

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