When winter enters the Alps at the end of November, at the beginning of December, the magic of the mountains changes. The rugged and rough gives way to a glamorous elegance. Bald rock walls are covered with untouched white. Hardly anyone can escape the call of the mountains. For some it means the loneliness, the quiet, the humility that you feel above the tree line. Another one is attracted by the colorful thrill of skiing. Looking forward to the après-ski on the first lift ride. The deprivation is followed by gluttony. The mountains offer the panorama, man seeks his place. And he is looking for the challenge. Climb mountains. Walking in the thin air. Torn by the icy wind. The Alps are the backdrop for the premiere of the new Mercedes-Benz All-Terrain. Welcome to the mountain!
Test and first drive: Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain
The mountain calls
You are not the first this time. A combination with ground clearance and coarse plastic eyeliner? Audi had this in its program a decade ago. But the idea of adding a crossover to the SUVs did not come from Audi either. It's the idea of SUBARU. Combining station wagon, ground clearance and all-wheel drive in a pragmatic mix. In Germany, of all places, it took a little longer. At Mercedes-Benz, however, we are currently in the process of filling every niche or founding it ourselves. So now the E-Class as a crossover. As a wanderer between worlds. Practical, elegant, masculine. Or as the marketing calls it; "Tough-ness"
The Musketeer of the E-Class
He is said to be the sturdy musketeer among the “tourism and transport” models from Stuttgart. They put on a lot of make-up for him. Black plastic sills and flared fenders. GTI style of the late eighties. In addition, another radiator grille variant with a large central star. Lifestyle has to do without the classic badge grille. Robust reinforcements, so-called underrun protection on the bumpers, gleam at the rear and front. Optic Klimbim. More important is the question of ground clearance. The answer: manageable. The All-Terrain is 29 millimeters higher on the road.
The larger wheels alone bring 14 millimeters and an adaptation to the multi-chamber air suspension by another 15 millimeters give so a manageable plus in ground clearance. The maximum ground clearance is thus 15.6 centimeters.
The trailer coupling can now withstand 100 kilograms of vertical load (not trailer load !!) and is therefore also suitable for three e-bikes or larger sports equipment. The all-terrain driving programs demonstrate that people in Stuttgart are well versed in all-wheel drive technology. Even if there is still a sport mode, the correct mode is the comfort mode. If you dare to venture out on slippery terrain, you can choose the new all-terrain mode. The all-wheel drive is then adapted to “dig” and “maximum grip”. Even though the solutions are pure software adaptations. The multi-chamber air spring can be raised to a plus of 35 millimeters at speeds of up to 20 km / h. That gives a little more sovereignty in the field. And also on the way to the top. The Timmelsjoch is intended as an excursion destination. Ice sheets under a thin layer of snow turn into solid layers of snow the higher it goes. Turn after turn, it's getting icier. The white elegance of the mountains. A danger for humans, a pleasure in the sport mode of the driving dynamics programs. A slight tail swing, a fine waving on the now deeply snow-covered road. Winter sports can be twice as much fun with heated seats and massage seats.
Of course, the all-terrain does not have the off-road capability of our SUV models, which is not purely geometric because of dimensions such as slope angles and overhangs. Nevertheless, he showed us again and again on the test drives what he can do off-road. Spontaneous detours into the terrain, over dirt roads, snow and sand are all-terrain possible at any time - combined with the high ride comfort and the dynamism and agility of the E-Class.
Dipl.-Ing. Michael Kelz, chief developer of the E-Class series
The Swiss Army Knife
Dangers we are the all-terrain than E220d. Under the hood the boy OM654 engine generation the Swabians. With 194 hp and a good 400 Nm, the engine feels sufficiently powerful. The 9-speed automatic does its best to always have the right gear ready and together the two are able to make even a massive E-Class appear really economical. It feels like the all-terrain variant moves through the curves with noticeably more tendency to roll, but it can also only be thrown out of step later by transverse joints. The air suspension and the freedom not to be obliged to lateral acceleration slow down everyday driving. The All-Terrain may make a “hard shell”, but still has the pleasantly warm soft core of all E-Classes. The business class with the feel-good factor. The fact that the All-Terrain can reach a speed of 220+ as a 230d when required is not an issue in the mountains.
Has the world been waiting for the all-terrain? Certainly not. It's a niche model if you're not SUBARU. And yet, the all-terrain variant of the E-Class offers an answer to questions that have not been asked before. You sit a “tick” higher, you drive a greater “tick” more comfortably, despite the fat choice of wheels, and you feel a “tick” better prepared for all the things that may come in the life of an automobile. With the 4matic all-wheel drive you don't do anything wrong anyway and if you also like the rough cosmetics of all-terrain, then you may suddenly ask yourself a question to which there is now an answer.
Oh, yes, Subaru drivers will only smile mildly at the approaches to off-road suitability. Because to really send the noble station wagon version of the Mercedes E-Class through the forest in the direction of wild boar hunting, the ground clearance is not enough. The “laugh”, however, will pass you by at the latest at the price. The All-Terrain will be just under € 4.000 above the comparable “normal” T-model. For the driven E220d that should be at least € 54.000. Well, the large 20-inch wheels are then already included, as is the air suspension and the rest of the list of options will be a bit shorter. The All Terrain will be launched on the market in spring 2017. By then, the skiing circus in the mountains should have subsided and the hikers will be in charge again. The mountain calls.
Loneliness and calm? A maximum of a short breather at the summit. Enjoy the view, then back behind the steering wheel. The Alps, the mountains - great luck for some. For me just a collection of a lot of rock, but then better to continue to tour, in all-terrain. Find new premises.