Isn’t it odd how turning a saloon into an estate can totally alter a car’s appeal? It is just a bit more boot space, after all.
For me this was exactly what happened with the Mercedes E-class, which we road tested this week in E350 CDI estate form. I have driven the equivalent saloon and it’s great, but from a completely subjective point of view I find it wholly uninteresting.
I may even have suggested to some well-respect journos that the E-class was too middle-aged, and that the XF was much more interesting, which caused some consternation (possibly more about who I was calling middle-aged than about the cars) but that goes to prove how un-scientific my preference of premium saloon is.
I don’t deny that the E-class is brilliantly put together, comfortable, has a great range of engines and does all the things that an E-class needs to do. But I still look at the saloon and feel little personal interest (E63 AMG aside).
The estate is a different matter. I look at the estate and wonder how long I’ll have to wait before I can afford one, and I look forward to that moment. I actually like the idea of buying a low-price, high mileage E350 CDi estate in ten years time and just running it forever until it eventually gives up. This is currently what I plan to do with my own 135,000 mile, 1991 Mercedes 190E, which could well see me through until 2020 if it remains as indestructible as it appears to be now.
I don’t know why I have such a hankering for an E-class estate, because I certainly don’t need one. I have no kids, no dogs and no converted farmhouse outside which to park it. But it seems to me that the estate is less pretentious, better to look at and lacks the corporate blandness of the saloon. If I could also put an old Caterham on the driveway alongside the Merc, I can’t think of a scenario when I wouldn’t have a suitable motor to hand.
I just enjoy covering miles in the E-class estate, and I like the prospect of owning it. It deserves every bit of the four and a half stars we gave it in the road test.