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Mercedes-Benz E 320 Cdi Estate

Broadcast date : 8th October 2006

You can’t make up your mind about whether to go for a full-sized luxury sedan, or a fully-eqipped SUV. Maybe, just maybe, Mercedes-Benz can offer the best of both worlds.

The neat thing about the Mercedes Estate is that loading it is much easier than on a tall SUV.

There’s a whopping 670 litres of luggage space even before you start folding the seats flat, but little exterior size penalty.

The Merc E-Class Estate is well-under the five metre mark in overall length, coming in at just under 4,9 metres, and just three centimetres longer than the sedan.

Sharp-eyed Mercedes fans will note that this is the pre face-lift model E-Class Estate that we’ve been thrashing around Wesbank Raceway, and touring through the hills of the Magaliesburg.

The up-rated models feature subtle changes to the nose and interior, but essentially, the 3,2 litre turbodiesel engine remains unchanged.

Power remains at 165 kilowatts, although there has been a slight shift in the torque curve.

We look forward to driving some of the more potent revised E-Class models, which will include a new direct injection V8, and a wagon version of the AMG E63 model.

The E63 features the new 6,2 litre naturally-aspirated V8, which pumps out a stonking 378 kiloWatts, over 200 kiloWatts more than this turbo-diesel V6.

There’s also been some improvement to the running gear. Mercedes-Benz has always been criticised for not taking a more sporting approach with its bread-and-butter models, although their outright cornering prowess often surprises fans of more overtly sporting, more compromised models.

An area that has always come in for criticism has been the steering. Reports from abroad indicate the steering feel will be much improved.

Those core strengths of what is arguably the world’s most accomplished estate car, are very much in evidence.

There’s a distinct vibrancy to the interior design which is retained on the new model, although we can look forward to a new steering wheel and air-conditioning upgrades.

There’s a busy feeling in terms of the array of switches and buttons, which is why more and more cars in this league are moving to mouse-controlled menu operation.

We would probably choose one of the excellent new multi-phase direct-injection petrol engines on offer in the E Class range, which are extremely advanced.

Nevertheless we were impressed with the hundred and sixty-five kilowatt turbodiesel, and the way it harmonises with the transmission.

Why, too, would you want to go haring around a racetrack in this car? Perhaps to answer those critics who see the Mercedes as a fuddy-duddy-mobile.

The chassis set-up on the big Merc follows a typical safe-as-houses approach… understeer, which means the front wheels slide out first, and as soon as you back off the throttle, the nose tucks back into line.

The surprise with all Mercs is how well they put their power down despite their soft ride. Nice to know when you are hustling the family along a back road or threading your way through the mountains.

Mercedes-Benz E 320 Cdi Estate

  • Engine: V6 turbodiesel, 2 987 cc
  • Power: 165 kW @ 3 800 rpm
  • Torque: 510 Nm @ 1 600 rpm
  • Transmission: Seven-speed automatic, rear-wheel-drive
  • 0-100 km/h: 8,2 seconds (claimed)
  • Top speed: 245 km/h (claimed)
  • Fuel consumption: 8,5 litres/100 km (estimated)
  • Price: R516 000

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