Review: Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate

First a cautionary cat tale, writes Brian Byrne. With a 'tail'piece about fur ...

My neighbour knocked on the door the other morning. He'd been out earlier, and noticed that the tailgate of my review  E-Class Estate was open. So he closed it. Good neighbours do that.

But why was it open? And for how long? Well, probably since the night before. All I could surmise was that the button on the keyfob that triggers the tailgate to open electrically had been pressed against something else in my pocket while I was in the house, and raised it.

The cat part? Yes, there were quantities of white car fur on the cargo floor of the car. And there is a white cat in the locality, which probably saw the opportunity of a very comfortable bed for the night and took it up. Fortunately, the review car had as part of the package a mesh barrier so that dogs being transported wouldn't fly forward amongst the passengers under heavy braking. So the sumptuous leather seats on the car weren't accessed by the cat, its claws, or its fur.

That fur, either the cat was moulting fairly heavily or the fabric of the cargo area mat tugged it out. Whichever, it was very difficult to remove from the carpet afterwards. The mat is reversible, with a rugged hard surface on the other side, which is probably what you would do if you were carrying the family pet in the back.

However, the technical problem remains with such high-tech keyfobs. Something similar happened to me earlier in the year, sans cat, with a BMW so equipped. Fords with electric tailgates require specifically two clicks of the button before they operate, and that might help. Anyhow, now I make a point of going out to check such cars before I retire.

That's a long intro to a review about the E-Class Estate. But you do know now a number of things about how it was equipped, so not wasted. It is one fine car, extending the Irish Car of the Year 2017 accolade it was awarded by Ireland's motoring journalists.

The estate really looks good, with very nice proportions and a sleekness which one doesn't get from the SUV-style cars that have essentially replaced the format in public preference. I like estate cars, especially if they are as elegant as this one.  The picture tells more eloquently than I can in words, so I'll leave the exterior style at that.

The interior is generally as the saloon with which many new owners over the last dozen months or so are familiar. Very much a shift into the latest in dashboard and instruments design, with a 12.3” screen in the review car providing the information for navigation and entertainment as well as management of various functions. Full marks, though, for retaining the operation of temperature and other climate controls to switches. The usual remote controls on the steering wheel are tidy and useful. There was a proper windscreen head-up display, which I found very handy to keep my travel within speed limits.

There's lots of colour in the latest main instrumentation from Mercedes-Benz and it is very pleasing for that. The car also had a cool line in ambient or 'mood' lighting which proved very pleasant at night.

I can't fault the driving experience in any current E-Class and the Estate is no exception. With a couple of extended trips as part of my time with it, the car proved to be exactly as I expected, untiring and practical and with that sense of premium elegance which is the hallmark of the model.

For the technicals, the review car was powered by the 194hp version of Mercedes-Benz's excellent new 2.0 diesels. It comes with automatic transmission as standard, purringly seamless in operation and a perfect match for the motor. A 7.7s sprint to 100km/h is possible, but most of the time you wouldn't bother to try for it, as this is swish motoring.

'Swish' though can have a price. So, the car was in AMG trim, which brings quite a lot of standard spec in its own right including electrically folding rear seats, electrically operated front seats with extensive lumbar support options, and an active park assist with camera.

That specification sets the car's price at €56,310. However, there were extras valued at over €21,000 on the review car, the most costly being the 12.3" screen pack with the head-up display and traffic sign recognition, for €5,721. There was a panoramic electric sunroof for €3,229. And more, but I'll leave it at that because every buyer will have his or her own preferences on extras choice. The roll-out price of the car which the white cat so enjoyed was €77,434, but with the very successful 10pc discount promotion the company is running here, that comes down to €69,691. Road Tax is €200.

I suspect I'd have enjoyed it just as much at the base price.

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