The Mercedes Benz E-Class All-Terrain is enough to make folk in the Shires go weak at the knees – an estate car with off-road credentials. But Charlie Flindt won’t be replacing his farm truck just yet
Few cars will be greeted with as much joy as an estate car with off-road ability. The Mercedes Benz E-Class All-Terrain ticks all of these boxes. But Charlie Flindt will be hanging on to his farm truck for a little while longer.
For more cars that prove useful on the farm, the Suzuki Ignis Allgrip is, rather surprisingly, the perfect runaround.
MERCEDES BENZ E-CLASS ALL-TERRAIN
We country folk love a good estate car – and we like our estate cars even more if they come with a bit of off-road ability: a bit of cladding here, an extra pair of driven wheels, a soupçon of raised suspension. Study the point-to-point car park and you could be forgiven for thinking that we prefer them to the SUVs that tumble in their thousands out of the showrooms and onto the drives of our urban cousins.
Estate cars don’t come much better that the Mercedes Benz E-Class, and you can imagine the joy out in the Shires as the All-Terrain version arrived complete with cladding, four-wheel drive and raised suspension.
The inside is a curious mix. The dashboard seems to have fallen victim to the “we must appeal to the yoof” concept, looking like a long, thin, horizontal iPad. There’s also an odd control pod sitting in the middle of the centre console, masking perfectly the buttons on the other side of it. But gadgets and gizmos aside, the interior is lovely. Room in the front is good, although the steeply raked A pillar is a bit of a nuisance; room in the back is better and the load area in the boot is vast. Put the back seats down flat and the floor extends to more than two metres. The self-opening boot sounds just like the “no no no cat” off YouTube, which I found hugely entertaining for at least 10 minutes, even if no-one else did.
Mercedes obviously know us better than we thought; the All-Terrain comes with only one choice of engine, the long-serving and excellent three-litre V6 diesel, which is all we want. No hybrid nonsense or underpowered power plants for the sake of tax efficiency; give us plenty of cubic inches of oil-burner and be done with it. It’s enough for some serious performance in a big car, even if the fuel economy is a tad 1980s for the same reason.
The raised suspension is useful on a muddy track but not for deep mud, therefore the All-Terrain is never going to replace my farm truck. While it sounds a lot in millimetres, it’s only in fact a couple of inches.
Leaving aside the metric/imperial debate, there’s another crucial reason why the All-Terrain fails in its claim to be “all terrain”: the tyres. I was strolling round it, pretending it was mine. There’s no spare wheel (instant black mark), so I’d buy one to replace the idiotic glue kit. What size would I need? The number on the back wheels says 275/35 R20. So that’s what I’d need for the inevitable off-roading puncture. But a different number caught my eye as I passed the front wheel: 245/40. I know the boot is spacious but I’m damned if I’m carrying two sizes of spare around. No, no, no, Mercedes (as the internet cat would say): give us four equal wheels and a proper spare in the boot. Otherwise, you’re soft-roading, with the Waitrose and the point-to-point car parks being the limit of your ambition. And as much as we love the E-Class estate, that’s not All-Terrain.
Mercedes Benz E350 All-Terrain
♦ Engine: 2,987cc V6 diesel
♦ Power: 258bhp
♦ Max speed: 155mph
♦ Performance, 0 to 62: 6.2 seconds
♦ Combined fuel economy: 41.5mpg
♦ Insurance group: 43E
♦ Price: £58,880