Before you splash your cash on that luxury SUV, pause, I pray you, to consider the worth of a good old-fashioned estate car based on a premium luxury saloon.
Of these, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate is one of the longest-lived and most impressive. As with all the previous incarnations, this 2016-onwards pantechnicon blends a capacious and high-quality interior and a boot the size of Belgium with elegant styling and a comfortable ride. It’s great value when used, too.
There were initially three diesel options: two different versions of the 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine (the short-lived E200d and impressive E220d) and a V6 in the E350d.
Post-2018 cars added the diesel-electric plug-in hybrid E300de for terrific potential fuel economy and the punchy E400d straight-six diesel.
The petrols included the four-pot E200 and the very lively E43 and E63 models from AMG, which both had four-wheel drive and were powered by dynamite and spitting shrapnel. The E43 was later superseded by the mild-hybrid E53.
The ordinary, everyday E-Class Estate rides well, even better on its optional air suspension, and its handling is tidy. There is a little shake and shimmy from the standard steel-sprung cars over rougher roads at lower speeds, but it’s not enough to distract from the general comfort of the car.
Where the E-Class Estate really scores highly is in its high-speed refinement. Having nine ratios in the automatic gearbox means the engine ticks away quietly at 70mph, while wind noise is well suppressed. Only a bit of rumble from the tyres stops it beating the peace and quiet served up by the rival BMW 5 Series Touring at cruising speeds.
The spacious interior is one of rare class, with a distinctive dashboard. There’s a neat rotary controller for the comprehensive infotainment system, too, so no touchscreen trouble, and all of the materials and plastics look and feel of a good quality. The raison d’être of this car is the boot, though, which has masses of room with the rear seats up and a phenomenal amount with them folded down. There was even the option of pull-up seats in the boot, turning the E-Class Estate into a seven-seater.
Last year, the E-Class family was treated to a substantial facelift, gaining increased equipment levels and radically updated styling that further boosted the Estate’s appeal.
Around £17,000 is a starting point for an E-Class Estate of this generation. Considering the amount of car you get for your money, and its obvious quality, this seems like a very good deal indeed. Budget between £20,000 and £25,000 for a 2018 or 2019 model, or £25,000 and £35,000 on higher-trim 2019 cars or lower-trim, pre-facelift 2020 cars.
Need to know
Due to a software issue, cars from 2016 could suddenly lose power. A separate recall for 2016 cars affects the electrical wiring for the fuel pump that lives under the back seats. This means that the fuel supply to the engine can be cut, causing it to stall.