NZ off the wagon with E-Class?

Now that it has fully engaged it sports utility programme, is there room in Mercedes’ local lineup for the brand’s largest station wagon? It seems not.


CLEAR Kiwi preference for sports utilities and crossovers means the next big thing from Mercedes has become a far from certain starter in our market.

 Initial comment out of Mercedes Benz New Zealand in reaction to the international release of photos and information about the E-Class station wagon suggests the new model might not be seen here.

The Auckland-domiciled distributor has not stated outright that the latest evolution of the car is not for us, however spokesman Matt Bruce has identified that the big shift away from orthodox road-bound load-alls such as this to sports utilities with greater driving environment potentials and similar cabin space and load capacity has become a consideration.

“Due to the proliferation of the SUV market in New Zealand we are currently assessing the viability for the new E-Class Estate locally,” Bruce said.

“We will provide you with further information in due course.”

Conceivably, there is no pressure to make a hard and fast decision yet. Mercedes Australia has signaled it will take the model and, since our countries share a common specification, it would likely be easy enough to facilitate entry at any time, should demand emerge.

Potentially, though, even past NZ customers might let that desire slide; sales stats for the past three years suggest support for the bigger of the two wagons – the other being the C-Class estate – has diminished steadily. Not that there was much to start with.

The GLE, previously known as the M-Class, has become a far more preferable go-to.

For all that, Benz here argues that, if it is required, the E-Class wagon is the right kind of rig for the discerning customer.

“As I'm sure you're aware, the new E-Class again redefines the standards of a business saloon, and takes a major step towards accident free driving on our roads,” commented Bruce.

“The range will offer a wealth of industry-leading innovation to enhance the safety and comfort of the driving experience.”

Er, right.

The brand will be able to demonstrate those strengths with the E-Class sedan, which is just weeks from local market release.

Our neighbour, meantime, cannot yet help with any thought about what engines and trim lines might conceivably be opportuned; they say the model spread and available trim grades have not been locked in.

All that Australia has indicated is that will not have a huge stockpile; the SUV swing is just as strong across the Tasman, so accordingly they reckon on selling just 150 units a year to a population that’s five times the size of our own.

Even though the GL and perhaps the GLC might better fulfil in a functional sense, there’s no argument that the E-Class wagon would potentially garner votes for its styling. In effect, it’s pretty much a larger-scaled version of the C-Class wagon.

It initially launches in Europe with a three-model range, opening with engines that are all cited for the sedan here.

The entry mill is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder 143kW/400Nm E220d diesel, the flagship option is a turbocharged V6 petrol 295kW/520Nm AMG E43, and in between is another diesel, the 190kW/620Nm 3.0-litre V6 E350d. These all drive through a nine-speed automatic, as per the sedan.

Mercedes-Benz claims 0-100km/h times of 7.7 and 6.2 seconds for the E220d and E350d, while the E43 promises to cut the sprint to 4.7s, just 0.1s off the time claimed for the E43 sedan that should be here early next year.

Fuel use on the European test cycle listed at a claimed 4.2L/100km for the E220d, 5.4L/100km for the E350d and 8.4L/100km for the E43.

Boot space is listed at up to 700 litres, rising – when the 40:20:40 split-fold second-row seats are laid flat - to 1820 litres.

As with the previous model, the E-Class Estate offers an 1100mm wide loading space between the rear wheel arches.

Self-levelling rear air suspension is also featured and all-round air suspension is also available.