Despite the relatively niche segment, luxury manufacturers continue to release soft-roading variants of full-sized wagons. Following earlier reveals from Audi and Volvo, Mercedes-Benz just unveiled the dirt-road-ready E-Class All-Terrain ahead of its official debut at this year's Paris auto show.
Like the Volvo V90 Cross Country and the smaller Audi A4 Allroad, the E-Class All-Terrain is essentially an E-Class wagon prepared for some light off-road duty. Forget any aspirations of conquering Moab; this is best suited to scaling tight unpaved mountain roads.
The All-Terrain serves as the launchpad for a new 2.0-liter turbocharged diesel four-cylinder engine, pushing out 194 hp and a healthy 295 lb-ft of torque. Power is unsurprisingly routed to all four wheels through Mercedes' new 9G-Tronic nine-speed transmission. Mercedes says a six-cylinder diesel will soon follow.
To prepare the All-Terrain for journeys to mountain homes in the Alps, the wagon incorporates tough plastic trim around the rocker panels, rear bumper, and a modified front bumper valence. Buyers will have the choice of three 19- and 20-inch wheel designs with "higher sidewalls" for handling rockier terrain. Underneath, the All-Terrain is protected by a skid plate to keep the engine safe from hazards. The standard air suspension and larger wheels means the All-Terrain rides 1.1 inches higher than the regular E-Class Wagon.
In addition to the regular Eco, Comfort, and Sport driving modes, the new wagon packs an All-Terrain mode, a system derived from the GLE SUV. Selecting this mode raises the ride height by an impressive 0.8 inches, along with changes made to the traction control, stability control, and transmission.
No word yet on U.S. availability, but Mercedes says the All-Terrain arrives in the U.K. by spring of 2017. Look for the official debut of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain next month at the 2016 Paris auto show.