The world has gone SUV crazy in recent times, but there's still hope for devout wagon lovers. Volvo has the gorgeous V90 and more rugged Cross Country, and Mercedes has turned the new E-Class into the delightfully practical Estate. That practicality has now been paired with a raised ride height and the motoring equivalent of gumboots to create the new E-Class All-Terrain.
Compared to the regular E-Class Estate, there are a few noticeable tweaks making the All-Terrain a bit more gravel, mud, and grass friendly. Gone is the sporty front splitter, and in its place is a plastic and chrome bumper to match the side skirts and rear cladding. The car sits on unique 19 or 20-inch wheels, and the twin-strake grille is nicked straight from the Mercedes SUV parts bin.
There's more to the All-Terrain transformation than plastic cladding. Thanks to bigger tires and the standard air suspension tune, it sits 29 mm (1.14 in) higher than the standard Estate, although flicking through the different drive modes can add another 35 mm (1.4 in) to the ride height. Ground clearance ranges from 121 to 156 mm (4.8 to 6.1 in), with unique stability and traction control tunes to match each setting.
Power comes from a 2.0-liter turbodiesel engine, with 143 kW (194 hp) of power and a useful 400 Nm of torque, on tap from just 1600 rpm. Although you couldn't call it fast, the 232 km/h (144 mph) top speed and 8 second sprint to 100 km/h (62 mph) is likely to be enough for most. A more powerful six-cylinder will be offered down the track.
Both engines will be hooked up to the same 9-speed gearbox, which helps to keep CO2 emissions down to just 137 g/km on the combined cycle.
Inside, there's not much difference between the All-Terrain and regular E-Class Estate. The driver sits behind the same high-tech dual-screen dashboard, perched on the same sumptuous leather pews. There is a unique off-road display in the instrument panel, and a special set of trim finishes for the dashboard, but they're the only real changes to what was already a beautiful cabin.
Pricing will be announced early next year, and the car will hit showrooms at the start of Q2 2017. Expect to pay a small premium over the regular E-Class Estate, which should put it around the £40,000 (US$52,000) mark.
We'll be sure to check it out when it launches at the Paris Motor Show later this month.