Each week our team of experienced senior road testers pick out a new model from the world of innovative, premium and performance badges, and put it through its paces.
FEB 06th 2017
The Goodwood Test: Mercedes‑AMG E43 Estate
As of writing this, AMG hasn't confirmed it's doing an Estate version of its bonkers 604bhp (612ps) E63 yet but, from the smirks when they tried to deny it on the saloon launch, it's seemingly a dead cert. Thing is, amusing as a V8-powered super estate with the ability to switch from four-wheel drive to rear-wheel drive 'Drift Mode' sounds, it may be a bit much for most buyers. Which is where Mercedes-AMG's new mid-level '43' models come in. These compete with 'S' branded Audis, M-Sport BMWs and similar. Based around a twin-turbo petrol V6 they're quick but also understated and able to pass for a 'normal' Mercedes when needed. Four-wheel drive adds to the all-rounder appeal.
Mercedes is in one of its swoopy design phases at the moment and the E-Class Estate has moved on from the boxy shape of the previous model and into a more sculpted, athletic form. It's still a practical family wagon at heart though and nobody's going to complain about the space inside, be that the kids in the back seat or the Labradors in the boot. The interior is a similar combination of voluptuous style and impressive quality and is well equipped in this range-topping E43 form. The AMG additions bring five-spoke 19-inch wheels, subtle additional badging and a mild drop in ride height for a more serious stance.
The C43 version we tested recently had a 362bhp (367ps) version of this 3.0-litre V6, driving all four wheels via Mercedes' 4Matic all-wheel drive and the latest 9G-Tronic automatic. The E43 is based around the same but gets a small boost to 396bhp (401ps). In the modern fashion, there are driver modes for saving fuel, wafting, sportier driving and a configurable Individual setting. In all, it is fast, refined and comfortable, though it can end up rowdily holding the gears in the sportier settings. No need when there are nine to choose from! The engine has a 'soft' initial response but sounds good, revs keenly and offers great performance across the rev range. Air Body Control suspension is both adjustable and comfortable.
A faster E-Class Estate isn't the most passionate car to wear and AMG badge. But as a rapid, refined and understated all-rounder, it has much to recommend it. Not everyone will want the full beans E63 as and when it comes and, indeed, the E43 has as much power as the flagship V8 AMG of just a couple of generations ago. Four-wheel drive is another string to its bow too, the Mercedes system feeling more naturally rear-driven than the front-heavy equivalents from Audi. Any E-Class estate is a staunchly traditional Mercedes and the E43 lives up to that reputation, albeit with just enough AMG garnish to make it a little more interesting.
Price tag of our car: £62,480 OTR total price
(£58,290 + £4,190 in options)
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