Mercedes has offered an estate model for half a century, with four versions being badged E-Class. Except, make that five, because we’re in Germany trying the all-new Mercedes-Benz E 220 d Estate and, from what we know of the latest saloon version, we have high hopes.
This E 220 d is the entry-level diesel and is expected to account for the bulk of sales. The 2.0-litre engine was first seen in the E-Class saloon, offering a welcome improvement in refinement over the rattly 2.1-litre engine of the old model.
Mercedes opted to give its new estate a curvier roofline that's cut down the load-lugging ability. However, the boot still offers a vast 640 litres of space with the rear seats in place, or 1840 litres with them laid flat - still impressive by any measure.
It's well equipped, and the range of high-tech options is noteworthy. A concierge service that can tell you which is the best restaurant in town - while downloading the address to the sat-nav - and semi-autonomous driving that accelerates, brakes and steers for you, are just a couple of highlights.
What’s the 2016 Mercedes-Benz E 220 d Estate like to drive?
This car will largely live its life cruising up and down motorways, so a pokey engine, comfortable ride and hushed interior ambience are key. Good news: the E 220 d doesn’t disappoint.
Performance is strong and the engine picks up briskly from the around 1500rpm. Thereafter it pulls easily up to heady Autobahn speeds, so hitting the UK’s 70mph limit is something of a breeze. The standard nine-speed automatic gearbox aids the process, offering smooth changes that are prompt when required, such as a sudden burst of acceleration for overtaking.
At motorway speeds the E-Class is supremely quiet; there’s just a flutter of wind noise, but even over coarse road surfaces barely any road roar. Granted, you can still hear the engine thrumming away when it’s worked hard, but no more noticeably than you would in any of its chief rivals.
Standard suspension comprises self-leveling air springs at the rear, and mechanical springs and dampers at the front, but our test car came with optional all-round adaptive air suspension. This makes a bit of din as you pass over ruts and ridges, but provides a smooth ride nevertheless. Leave it set to its softest Comfort mode and the E-Class wafts along at speed with a welcome degree of grace. Scraggy town roads test it a little harder, where it'll deliver a thud if the wheels strike a sizeable pothole.
It’s not the sharpest car in the class to throw around corners; the steering's direct but provides scant feedback, and there's a fair amount of body lean in tight curves. Keen drivers will find a 5 Series Touring delivers more on-road dynamism, but for its target market this E-Class is more than capable, being easy to manage and surefooted in everyday use.
What’s the 2016 Mercedes-Benz E 220 d like inside?
The driving position is frankly spot on: there’s oodles of adjustment from the multi-way electric front seats and steering column, combined with a relatively unrestricted view.
Those seats are pleasingly comfortable as well, especially with added options, such as the massage facility to keep you de-stressed on long drives.
The interior looks thoroughly modern and, depending on your chosen trim, comes with a plush mix of materials. One recommendable option is the 12.3in TFT screen for the instrument display. Combined with the upgraded Comand Online navigation system, which brings a separate 12.3in infotainment screen, this effectively creates one long, configurable display that puts lots of useful information right in front of the driver. A smaller screen with Garmin sat-nav is standard.
Minus the saloon’s sloping roofline, rear passengers now get plenty of head room (even with the optional panoramic roof fitted) to go with decent, if not class-leading leg room.
Move to the boot and you’ll discover a standard power-operated tailgate, which retracts the load cover as it opens, revealing a long, flat, 1.1-metre wide load bay. There’s added storage under the boot floor and you can tilt the rear seats forward, creating an extra 30 litres of luggage space while still leaving seating for five.
For really big loads, press the two buttons by the tailgate and the 40/20/40 split-folding rear seats drop automatically. Now you have a capacious, flat load deck.
Should I buy one?
Indeed you should. This new E 220 d Estate is a relaxing car for covering epic distances with up to five people onboard. Make that seven, once a third row of fold-out kids’ seats becomes available as an option early next year. It’s also got a boot fit for purpose, making it the consummate family wagon.
This 2.0-litre diesel engine is the only one we’ve tried in the Estate thus far. It has the power to haul you along effectively and offers very respectable fuel economy and emissions, so we’d say it’s a prime contender for our pick of the range.
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Mercedes-Benz E 220 d Estate
Engine size 2.0-litre diesel
Price from £37,935
Torque 295lb ft
Top speed 146mph
Fuel economy (official combined) 67.3mpg
CO2/BIK band 109g/km/21%