There is no shortage of SUVs and crossovers in Stuttgart’s lineup at the moment, from the pocket-size GLA-Class to the new and slightly wider G-Class. But is there room in the lineup for a seriously jacked-up E-Class station wagon?
Last summer, Mercedes-Benz showed off the E400 All-Terrain 4×4-squared — the brainchild of Mercedes engineer Jurgen Eberle. The flared E-Class sits on portal axles, which buy it not only 17 inches of ground clearance but also the ability to climb over rocks, logs and other items not readily found in urban areas. Powered by a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 churning out 333 hp, sent to all four wheels via the 9G-Tronic nine-speed automatic, this brute of a wagon wears high-profile tires, skid plates and 3D-printed wheel arches to keep at least some of the mud off the glass.
This beastie is more than Mercedes’ version of the Audi Allroad — the independent portal axles have been in Stuttgart’s 4×4 parts bin for some time — and they allow the wagon to simply sail over things that would immediately get stuck under other garden variety jacked-up wagons on sale today.
The Mercedes-Benz E400 All-Terrain 4×4-squared features portal axles, skid plates and a wider track than the regular wagon.
But is there a market for the E400 All-Terrain 4×4-squared?
At first blush, there is plenty of precedent for something like this, from the days when specialist companies tricked out family station wagons with 4×4 bits for wealthy clients to allow them to tackle the snows of Alpine ski resorts in style. But with the inauguration of the Age of the SUV, 4×4 wagon conversions have evolved into the Volvo Cross Country and its numerous competitors. Lest we forget, Subaru has turned half of its model range into beefed-up wagons with plenty of plastic body cladding. And Mercedes itself is awash in SUVs of all shapes and sizes, the most capable of which is the all-new G-Class.
The E400 All-Terrain 4×4-squared will reportedly enter limited production, following up on recent artisanal, batch-made Mercedes vehicles like the G63 AMG 6×6. So at least someone with a ski chalet in France will get to enjoy this uberwagon.
But we have to wonder just how much such a thing would cost AMG to put together and not lose money in the process while meeting whatever demand there is. It’ll certainly be in the six-figure range, but even if all the parts can either be found in the parts bin or easily adapted it’ll still be a handmade machine almost from start to finish. If it lands anywhere near the price range of the most expensive G-Wagen, or four regular E-Class wagons, we’ll call that a bargain.