MERCEDES-BENZ AUSTRALIA has today announced the latest addition to its E-Class line-up, the 2010 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate.
Arriving earlier than its expected February launch, the new E-Class Estate is the third bodystyle to join the E-Class range in Australia, with the Sedan and Coupe both debuting in August last year.
The first of the 212-series E-Class Estates to be offered locally is the V6-powered E 350; more affordable than the outgoing model and with an extra $8400 in new standard equipment.
Following the styling cues of its Sedan and Coupe counterparts, the E-Class Estate features the same quad rectangular headlights and inverted L-shaped running lamps in the front bumper.
Measuring 4895mm long, 1854mm wide and 1512mm tall, the Estate is slighter larger than its E-Class stablemates but sits comfortably with the stylish lines of the range.
As with the Sedan, the E-Class Estate's rear wheel arches are less pronounced than on the Coupe and Cabriolet, creating an subtler look to the wagon's profile.
The Estate shares its grille with the Sedan, featuring a simple three-bar design with the Mercedes badge mounted on the bonnet. The Coupe and Cabriolet models feature a bolder two-bar design with a large Mercedes logo filling the centre.
At the rear, the Estate features the same LED tail lights as the Sedan, extending from next to the number plate depression around to the wide rear wheel pontoons.
Inside, much of the interior styling is also shared with the Sedan.
The multi-function LCD display rests in its own binnacle next to the instrument cluster, more easily seen by the driver than with the previous model.
Electrically powered, rake and reach of the steering wheel can be tailored to each driver. A memory function also allows three different seat/wheel positions to be saved.
The shortcut buttons for the stereo, sat-nav and telephone are a little distant from the driver, but a few clicks of the COMAND controller will bring those up on the screen in a second or two.
The instrument cluster houses a large, central speedometer that rings an LCD multifunction display. A tachometer and clock flank the speedo, while a fuel and temperature gauge sit further outboard.
The multifunction display can show trip-computer read-outs, vehicle status messages and navigation instructions, and is designed to be clear and legible under all lighting conditions.
At the back of the centre console is a climate control display that?s flanked by fan and temperature controls. Air outlets on the centre console and B pillars keep backseat passengers cool - ideal for keeping the peace on long family road trips.
The 2010 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate features the Easy-Pack tailgate, which opens automatically by using the ignition key or pressing the handle.
The rear seats operate on a "quickfold" system, enabling the 1/3:2/3-split backrests to be folded down by a cable pull from the load compartment.
Load capacity is 1950 litres with the rear seats down, giving the E-Class Estate one of the best storage capacities in its class.
Equipment and Features
For the E 350, standard equipment includes the COMAND multi-function system, which ties together the voice-activated control system, Bluetooth phone integration, satellite navigation, reversing camera, and a 6GB hard disk drive for music.
iPod integration, an auxiliary input for USB memory sticks, heated wing mirrors and auto-dipping bi-xenon headlamps also figure among the standard features, along with three-zone climate control and pneumatically-adjustable seats.
The E-Class options list includes an Entertainment Package with a Harmon Kardon premium sound system and sunroof.
Safety is of course a key element, with an emphasis on crash avoidance. The 2010 E-Class boasts an array active safety systems in addition to the usual ABS, EBD, stability control and traction control.
With the E 350, there is a set of cameras to detect when the driver strays over the painted line, vibrating the steering wheel to prompt them to return to their lane.
Two radar units in the rear bumper detect if another vehicle has moved alongside the E-class Estate, and illuminate a warning light in the corresponding wing mirror to alert the driver.
Attention Assist monitors the steering, acceleration and braking habits of the driver to determine changes in driver behaviour or response that may indicate they are in danger of falling asleep at the wheel.
Should arning signs be detected, an alarm sounds and the multifunction display flashes an alert recommending to the driver that they pull over.
Passive safety equipment consists of pretensioning front and rear side seatbelts, dual front airbags, side airbags for front and rear occupants, full-length curtain airbags and a driver?s knee airbag.
Anti-whiplash heatrests are also fitted, and all E-Class models ship with Mercedes-Benz?s Pre-Safe damage minimization system.
Pre-Safe detects emergency situations such as hard braking or uncontrolled skidding, and works by pretensioning the front seatbelts, moving the front passenger seat into an optimal position for the airbags and closing the windows and sunroof.
They?re small measures, but Mercedes-Benz says they increase crash survivability by a substantial amount.
As with the E 350 Sedan, the E-Class Estate is powered by a 3.5 litre V6 developing 200kW and 350Nm of torque. While the interior, exterior and equipment levels are markedly different from the last E-Class, the E 350's powertrain is virtually identical to the outgoing model.
The V6-powered E 350 Estate features Mercedes' seven-speed 7G Tronic automatic transmission, with seven ratios and two shift modes - Comfort and Sport.
In Comfort mode, shifts are smooth and low in the rev range for optimum, well, comfort. In Sport mode, throttle response is sharpened and a more performance-oriented shift map is used.
Tap the wheel-mounted paddles, and gear control is in the driver's hands.
Mercedes-Benz claims fuel consumption figures of 9.9 l/100km - just .5 l/100km short of the Sedan's 9.4 l/100km.
Suspension is managed by Mercedes' Direct Control system, featuring adaptive damping as standard.
Self-levelling rear suspension keeps the Mercedes at the same height regardless of load in the back, and slightly stiffer shock absorber settings and torsion bar stabilisers make up for the Estate's different body geometry.
Up front, the E-Class Estate uses three-link McPherson struts, with the lower link consisting of two separate elements acting as torque and cross struts. This is designed to compensate for vibrations caused by tyre imbalances or uneven brake forces better than rigid wishbones can.
Pricing And Availability
The E 350 E-Class Estate is available now, priced from $138,100 (manufacturer's list price, includes GST and LCT but excludes dealer delivery and on-road costs).