STUTTGART: In the same day that it announced it's on course for another record year of sales - 818,175 cars sold between January and May alone - Mercedes took the wraps off its E-Class Estate, a car it claims is the most intelligent estate car in the company's history.
The new model is more or less identical to the E-Class sedan from the front but rather than just take the existing car and increase luggage space to a class-leading 1,820 litres (with all rear seats folded down), the new model attempts to blend practicality with a sense of visual style.
In a nod to E-Class Estates of old, the car of choice for upwardly mobile families in a time before minivans (or MPVs to Malaysians), the new car has an optional third row of seats.
Other welcome features for owners with families to placate on long journeys include self-leveling air suspension as standard, a remote tailgate release that works by moving one's foot under the rear bumper and the fact that the load space on offer isn't compromised too much by the rear wheel housings. There's even a rear-seat entertainment option complete with iPad integration.
As for the car's intelligence, Mercedes has taken the best next-gen safety features that currently reside in its flagship S Class and put them in the E-Class - a move that will give more Mercedes owners access to the company's best features.
The E-Class estate can remotely park itself, can stay in lane and at a safe distance from the car in front at highway speeds of up to 210kph and will autonomously apply the brakes at low speeds if something or someone crosses its path.
"The new Estate is as dynamic as the Mercedes-Benz brand and as spacious as our customers expect," said Ola Källenius, head of Mercedes-Benz Cars Marketing and Sales. "And what is more, the Estate obviously has all the innovations of the new E Class - the most intelligent executive saloon in the world."
The car will come with a choice of three diesel and three gas engines, but for those who want something that blends practicality with intelligence and hair-raising performance, there is also an AMG version. The Mercedes-AMG E 43 4Matic has a V6 biturbo 3-liter engine, 400hp and a 0-100kph time of just 4.7 seconds.
"In recent months, we have considerably expanded our model range for performance-oriented customers," said Tobias Moers, Chairman of Mercedes-AMG GmbH. "The new E 43 4Matic Estate adds a particularly versatile alternative for business and recreation."