Like its rivals, the E-Class All-Terrain has been designed to be more comfortable and easygoing than its road-biased siblings while also providing a smattering of off-road ability. It’s certainly comfortable on smooth but undulating roads, wafting along in a relaxed manner, but the same can’t be said for rough urban roads. Here, it thumps over potholes and knobbly urban bumps much more than you might expect.
Despite the soft springing, body lean is kept well in check as you hustle the car down a winding road. Even in Comfort mode, there’s little body roll and the All-Terrain has little trouble making quick direction changes. Even driven briskly, you’d be hard pushed to notice a great deal of difference compared with the regular estate.
There is also a Sport mode that makes the E-Class turn in to corners more keenly without making the car overly firm everywhere else; this also adds extra weight to the steering and sharpens the accelerator’s response. An extra mode on this model over the regular estate – appropriately called All-Terrain – raises the car up by 20mm at speeds below 20mph. While the steering is generally nicely weighted, it is devoid of feedback in any mode.
While Mercedes’ V6 diesel engine is pretty smooth when you accelerate briskly and the standard nine-speed automatic gearbox ensures the motor spins at a leisurely 1500rpm when cruising, it can’t quite match Audi’s 3.0-litre diesel unit for refinement. It performs well enough, though. Plenty of low-end grunt equates to effortless pace, whether you’re in town or travelling along a motorway, plus it’s torquey enough to pull a two-tonne trailer with no issues at all – we know, because we’ve done so.
We’ve even tried the All-Terrain on a short off-road course, featuring rock-strewn inclines that it took in its stride. Okay, a full-on SUV would be even better, but there’s no doubt that the All-Terrain has enough mud-plugging ability for the vast majority of buyers.