The Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate has been successfully dominating the premium wagon market for decades when it comes to comfort and space. For the 2017 model, we should probably add intelligence to that list. Because if we are to continue where we left off with the E-Class Sedan earlier this year in Portugal, it would be safe to say that this is the most intelligent station wagon ever built standing right before us. And there is more, but before I get into details it’s important to recognize the presence of the first official 2017 E-Class AMG model: the fresh E43 AMG with V6 biturbo.
Continuing on that note it’s the Mercedes-AMG E43 Estate that I spent most time with, naturally, because it’s this particular model that will give us a slight taste of what the future E63 Estate will be like to drive, the ultimate family car on steroids. With my early spring E-Class experience still relatively fresh in mind, I take the sporty E43 on to the road to see how it compares to the very comfortable E400.
As far as first impressions go, the E43 Estate looks proper long but not in a ponderous way. Its gracious roof line is lower than that of its predecessor giving it a more dynamic look. I personally find the rear end quite an improvement as well, it suits the car’s proportions better and is far more elegantly sculptured than that of the outgoing model. The grown wheelbase emphasizes this more powerful stance from the side, slap a set of 20-inch AMG wheels on there and it looks better than ever before.
Until the B-pillar little has changed compared to the sedan version. AMG styling at the front comes in the form of the aluminum diamond radiator grille and a slightly more aggressive front bumper design. At the rear newly designed two-stripe taillights with stardust LED technology, if you want it, accentuate the rather wide boot lid. This brings us to the practicality aspect of the wagon, which is space. The low overhang doesn’t just improve the car’s drag coefficient, but makes it significantly easier to load luggage and cargo.
Customers have 670 liters of luggage space at their disposal, which is extendable to a huge class-leading 1820 liters with the rear seats folded down. The optional EASY-PACK load-securing kit comes with special rails in the floor of the luggage compartment, additional fasteners, a telescopic rod and luggage holders to secure your luggage, in case you do want to make good use of that extra performance of the E43.
Then again, depending on the nature of the cargo, you may want to keep that plushy premium interior spotless. The luxurious interior design that I got to admire separately late last year before the new E-Class was launched sets new standards in the segment. It’s spacious, but comfort is where the traditional Mercedes-Benz interior truly excels. The use of high quality materials and funky extras such as the 64-color ambient lighting scheme and 23-speaker 3D Burmester sound system almost makes the interior more high-end than that of the current S-Class.
And then there is the reworked dashboard, another exemplifying display of luxury and modern capability. Upgrading to the double digital 12.3-inch screens with handsome glass cover may cost a penny, but is well worth it. It may take a while getting used to the interface, but the system is diligent, responsive and quick and provides customers with endless capabilities.
Adding more flair to the Estate’s interior is the premium styling package that comes with the E43. The characteristic Mercedes-Benz analogue fits nicely into the mid-console. Contrasting stitching and subtle use of the AMG logo further underline the car’s sporty character.
An abundance of technological features can be found in the new E-Class Estate, the majority of which I have discussed in my earlier review of the W213 sedan. Technological highlight is the semi-autonomous drive pilot, a system similar to Tesla’s autopilot but will ask drivers more frequently – every 60 seconds – to touch the wheel and let the system know that they’re still there. For good reason, the slightly more conservative approach towards these autonomous driving functions should prevent morons from taking place in the backseat and see what happens.
The system works relatively simple, and is a relaxing way of cruising down the Autobahn when traffic is low and changing lanes – which it will do automatically if the left lane is clear and you switch the indicator – isn’t really necessary. Another one of those nifty autonomous features is the remote parking pilot. Customers can now move the vehicle in and out of garages and parking spots using an app on their smartphone.
Talking about the smartphone, Mercedes-Benz takes a next step in connectivity and smartphone integration with their new Keyless go system. This essentially turns your smartphone into a key which could come in handy at multiple occasions. In practice however, I’m not yet sold on the smartphone as a car key concept. I’m not the type that forgets car keys and unlocking the car by phone doesn’t happen on a radius basis, but requires the driver to place the phone exactly on the door handle for the car to unlock.
Further connectivity solutions come in the form of the ‘Mercedes-Me’ platform. Mercedes-Benz have now added a personalized concierge service. Users of the Mercedes-Me connect system in Europe can now call a personal concierge that can take care of almost anything, as nicely demonstrated by the Mercedes-Benz E-Class’ head of development Micheal Kelz at the press conference. He called the concierge asking for restaurant recommendations nearby, upon which the concierge gave a couple of suggestions and finally made a reservation.
Finally the concierge will engage the vehicle’s navigation system and put in the route to the restaurant of choice. While all this seems a bit excessive, it’s essentially what sets the truly premium E-Class apart from its direct rivals.
Engine, Drivetrain and Chassis
The first performance version of the E-Class Estate comes with the very capable twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 fine-tuned to deliver a steady 401 hp (295 kW) and 520 Nm of torque. That’s a significant output premium over that of the E400, which develops 333 hp (245 kW) from the same engine. Paired with the very efficient 9G-Tronic automatic transmission, specifically configured with shorter shift times, the Mercedes-AMG E43 Estate rushes to 100 km/h in just 4.7 seconds.
The estate’s acceleration is given a further boost thanks to the standard 4MATIC all-wheel drive system, making the E43 especially usable 365 days a year. I am personally a huge fan of Mercedes’ V6 biturbo engine, it’s balanced, quick, sounds good and in combination with all-wheel drive its handling is far superior to that of the rear-wheel drive V8 biturbo.
Pushing the E43 on the Autobahn was a real pleasure. The cabin is very well isolated and boosts extra confidence on top of the wagon’s sturdy road presence. The electronically limited top speed of 250 km/h is effortlessly reached and I could feel that the car has plenty more to give. In terms of engagement the well-isolated cabin may take away a little bit of the engine’s emotion and sound, but it makes up for it when cruising long distances.
Compared to the E43 sedan, which I also briefly drove, the estate barely suffers from a performance deficit. It feels just as nimble in the corners and despite the longer tail it cuts through corners like there’s no tomorrow. By all means it’s not the typical car you want to be hooning around challenging country roads, but it feels comfortable being pushed to its limits.
Upon my arrival I received the keys to the E400 and drove it a fair stretch through the North of Germany. Being stuck in gridlocked city traffic wasn’t half as bad in the all comfortable E400, the estate you want when you’re looking for a balanced equation of luxury and performance. While I’m no fan of the old-fashioned beige interior that my test car was specced with, the combination of assistance systems installed on the E400 I drove was splendid.
The AIR BODY CONTROL adaptive air suspension is a must if your country’s infrastructure lacks quality. The many bumps and inefficiencies of the road surface I encountered were softly neutralized by the car’s comfortable suspension. In general, this is probably the most comfortable Autobahn cruiser I have ever driven, aside from the Maybach S600, that is.
Competition and Pricing
In Germany sales of the estate account for half of the annual E-Class model sales and in Europe that’s over one-third. Take the recent discontinuation of the Jaguar XF Wagon into consideration and the fact that it will take a while for long-time rivals BMW and Audi to present their answer to the E-Class Estate, it takes no rocket scientist to see that the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate is in the ultimate position to take the lead in its market segment, something I’m confident it will be capable of.
The E200 base model with 9G-tronic will start from €48,665,05 in Germany and the E220d diesel entry model has a base price of €50,485,75. The price tag on the 2017 Mercedes-AMG E43 Estate is yet to be disclosed but the price on the E43 Sedan gives us a bit of an idea: €75,089 is the starting price of the E43 sedan in Germany.
The new Mercedes-AMG E43 and E-Class Estate in general is far ahead of the herd when it comes to technology and autonomous driving. That however, on it’s own, is not what is this car’s main selling point. The E43 AMG is a family car you will buy when you’re looking for space, don’t want to compromise on comfort and still want to keep up with the left lane elite on the German Autobahn.
Mercedes-Benz further accentuate their benchmark position in the premium estate segment with fancy bells and whistles such as a personalized concierge service and ambient lighting in 64 different colors. Add basic practicalities such as class-leading cargo space and you’re looking at the best premium estate money can buy.