WHEN you need to cover hundreds of business miles in a week and carry a fair amount of kit in the process, few cars are as perfect for the job as the Mercedes E-Class Estate.
Add in the AMG sportiness, Night Edition styling and Premium Plus technology and kit levels, and the complete package offered in this particular Mercedes is hard to beat.
Admittedly at Â£58,290 or Â£60,670 with options, it's not exactly cheap. But for that outlay you do get a premium car that offers outstanding driving dynamics, all the on-board kit you could possibly wish for and exceptional comfort levels. It's also worth noting that our model was the range-topper so carried the highest price-tag.
The five-door estate is powered by a 2.0-litre diesel engine alongside a 13.5kWh battery and 122hp electric motor to deliver a combined 320hp and 700Nm of torque. It completes the 0-62mph sprint in 9.0 seconds, tops out at 155mph with carbon emissions of 36g/km.
It has an electric-only range of 31 to 33 miles and if this facility is used to its full potential, the combined fuel economy is rated at 176.6mpg. Charging the battery from a standard 7.2kWh wallbox takes about two hours, which makes the car very economical for short journeys but with the added reassurance of a tank full of fuel for longer trips.
There's no denying the E-Class Estate is a great looking car with sweeping curves and beautifully aerodynamic streamlining, multi-LED intelligent headlights, a panoramic sunroof, lots of AMG body styling and 18-inch AMG alloy wheels in high gloss black.
Move inside and you are greeted with one of the finest interiors on offer in any car today. It's premium quality throughout without being the slightest bit garish. There is leather upholstery with grey open-pore ash wood trim and the AMG steering wheel is trimmed in Nappa leather.
The ambient lighting has 64 shades to choose from and there is a Burmester sound system, full smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, wireless charging, three-zone climate control, heated seats, a heated steering wheel, plus the clever ‘Hey Mercedes' personal assistant system. This offers access to all manner of information from weather updates, parking availability, nearest fuel stations to the latest traffic reports, plotting navigation routes and even lowering the temperature within the car.
And, for the first time, the E-Class is available with the MBUX infotainment system that introduces two 12.3-inch screens that flow effortlessly into one another and are the main focal point within the cabinand offer access to the many on-board systems.
Out on the road, the steering is beautifully weighted and the E-Class cruises comfortably at 70mph on motorways, effortlessly eating up the miles. It is also confident on the more challenging B roads where it is ultra-grippy into tight bends and there is no sign of body movement.
The acceleration through the nine-speed automatic gearbox is smooth and responsive with a constant stream of power on tap at all times. There are steering wheel paddles for added driver engagement, along with various drive modes to alter the car's reactions. Sport is the most fun, but Comfort is the best selection for motorway cruising.
The cabin is well insulated against any engine, road surface or wind noise and the agility control suspension set-up does a very good job of smoothing out any bumps and dips along the way.
The semi-autonomous Drive Pilot system works really well on motorways keeping the car inside its lane markings while turning the wheel gently, braking and accelerating as needed. You need to keep your hands on the wheel at all times, which was just fine with me.
Despite stretching almost five metres in length, the E-Class Estate is deceptively agile around town and the driver benefits from good all-round visibility. And squeezing into a tight parking space is made all the simpler thanks to the parking package that includes a 360-degree camera and Active Parking Assist.
Comfort levels within the car are excellent and there is ample room for three passengers in the back without any complaints. The boot is generously sized and there is a lockable glovebox, door bins, front and rear cup holders, a sunglasses holder, seat back pockets and a deep central cubby box to store goodies.
The car is packed with a comprehensive list of safety kit too and secured a maximum five stars when tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating.
All in all, the latest E Class Estate with its plug-in hybrid technology, is a fabulous all-rounder that works Monday to Friday clocking up the business miles, but offers all the versatility needed for the adventurous family to enjoy weekends away.
£58,290, plus£2,380 extras
194hp, 1950cc, 4-cylinder, diesel-driven engine with 122hp electric motor and 9-speed DCT automatic transmission