ESTATES are having a bit of a moment. Gone are the days when they were associated with big families and practical, grown-up driving. Today’s estate car is the choice of dynamic sporty types, you know, the handsome couple with chiselled chins, yoga-toned bodies and ski tan complexions – the sort car companies, particularly German ones, feature in their advertising.
This is not lost on the car world. Most premium manufacturers now offer some sort of estate car and they seem to get sportier and more dynamic by the day.
The latest estate to hit the market is the new E-Class, arguably the pinnacle of all estates. The E-Class family, which includes the saloon, estate, cabriolet and coupé, is almost its own little sub-brand within Mercedes-Benz. This is the company’s most profitable model and the core product within the family. A staggering 13 million have been sold worldwide in the last 60 years – customers purchased 700,000 saloons and 100,000 estates alone of the previous outgoing model series.
The estate, though, is the grandpapa of the E-Class family – the one that holds it all together. For 2013, alongside the saloon, it has undergone a bit of a facelift, redesigned with the current form language in mind. Mercedes is gradually updating all its range to fit in with this consciously bolder, younger and more confident design language.
Styling revisions are mainly at the front and rear. They include a new sculpted grille with the two-bar design that integrates seamlessly with the new simple ‘diamond cut’ headlamps that camouflaging some serious advanced LED light technology. At the rear, the lights have been stretched to add visual width to the car. Also crucial to the new look is a feature line that runs below the structure line from the rear door through to the taillight giving the cars, especially the estate, new proportions.
Inside is roomy and luxurious with spacious front and rear seats, and soft leather upholstery that can be specified in all grades of quality and colour. Crucially for an estate it boasts a healthy 695-litre cargo space that can be increased dramatically with the rear seats folded.
Looks, though, are only part of the new E-Class story. This is the first Mercedes model series to benefit from eleven of the company’s latest safety technologies before they appear in the upcoming executive S-Class. This includes a whole range of active safety features that in times of danger automatically activate, almost making this almost autonomous.
Crucially, on the road the E-Class estate performs with confidence and ease. It is off-season and the otherwise busy Catalan roads surrounding Barcelona, where we’ve been taken to test the range, are empty of other road users so we are able to put them to the full test. The cars feel at ease on these twisting and winding mountain roads as they do later on when we get stuck in Barcelona’s rush hour traffic where we manoeuvre our way through narrow cobbled streets, only just managing to avoid scraping the alloys on the sidewalk. -Referred from Nargess Shahmanesh Banks.