An interesting alternative: for only 2,000 euro more, you get a 4 cm higher body, wheel and sill guards, two off-road programmes and additional off-road information. Test with Mercedes C 220 d 4Matic All-Terrain.
Raised station wagons with extra protection and all-wheel drive are an alternative to big, heavy SUVs, offering noble dynamics and moderate off-road ability. Audi and Volvo have been exploring this niche for more than 20 years now, with the A6 Allroad/A4 Allroad and V70/V60/V90 Cross Country respectively, and Mercedes got into the game with the E-Class AllTerrain in 2016. Last year, an AllTerrain version was launched for the first time based on the new generation C-Class T-Model.
Unlike the E-Class AllTerrain, which has a ground clearance only 29 mm higher than the regular estate, the C-Class AllTerrain comes with a 40 mm higher body. Of course, all-wheel drive and matt dark grey wheel arches and sills protections are standard.
The C-Class AllTerrain has only two options for powertrains from the C-Class line-up, the 204 HP C 200 and the 200 HP C 220 d, both with a 48 V mild hybrid system with integrated 20 HP belt-driven starter-generator. Theoretically, the price difference between the station wagon and the AllTerrain is around 3,000 euros, but the AllTerrain version comes standard with the Avantgarde Exterior line (952 euros) which reduces the price difference to around 2,000 euros.
In addition, Mercedes C 220 d 4Matic AllTerrain digital display of the instrument cluster has, in addition to Classic, Discreet and Sporty graphics, an Off-road mode that displays lateral and longitudinal tilt and steering angle. The latter in particular is very useful when you go off-road.
Ready for off-road
AllTerrain also has two additional driving modes, Off-road and Off-road+ (including hill descent assist), in addition to the classic Efficiency, Comfort, Sport and Individual. But you can’t get the optional integral steering and adaptive suspension either.
The suspension set-up is similar to that of the regular estate, with four-link front axle and five-link rear multilink. The suspension offers an excellent compromise, being firm enough to limit the roll caused by higher ground clearance, but also very comfortable with the standard 17-inch tyres, which are the best choice for this car, especially if you’re thinking of taking to the tarmac. The AllTerrain is very comfortable on tarmac, and the sill and wheel arches protections and decent ground clearance ensure a worry-free ride in rough medium terrain.
The new twin-turbo turbodiesel and 48V mild hybrid system with integrated starter-generator delivers 4 HP less than the C 200 d T-Model, but it’s just as light on gas. In economic run, it consumes 5.1 l/100 km, which means you can easily get from Munchen to Paris or Amsterdam (850 km) with the optional 66-litre tank. In normal driving, consumption is a very competitive 6.7 l/100 km, making this diesel even more cost-effective than an electric model. But unlike the same twin-turbo with 265 HP from the C 300 d, the 200 HP diesel is a little noisier when you accelerate, but quiets down at cruise speed on the highway.
The 200 HP gives sovereignty in overtaking, and the engine pairs very well with the excellent nine-speed automatic gearbox, which shifts smoothly and contributes decisively to fuel economy thanks to the high gear ratio between first and last gear. In practice, the C 220 d 4Matic AllTerrain runs at 130 km/h with only 1600 rpm in ninth gear.
Accelerations and in gear accelerations are quick (0-100 km/h in 8s and 60-100/80-120 km/h sprints in 4.6/5.7s), but they could be even quicker if the car wasn’t so heavy. At 1,897 kg, the AllTerrain is almost as heavy as the GLC SUV. In contrast, as in case of the C-Class, I noted the excellent brakes.
The interior is spectacular and of excellent quality, carried over from the C-Class. With the MBUX multimedia system with navigation (1,612.45 euro) and 6-degree driver-facing touchscreen and digital instrument cluster, operation is easy and intuitive, except that the rotary knob audio volume control from the previous generation was simpler than today’s tactile operation. Otherwise, everything is in place, and operation of the instrument cluster from the left-hand minitouch and the multimedia system from the right-hand minitouch from the steering wheel are logical. And you have as alternative voice command or tactile operation directly on the central display.
With the test car’s High-End Infotainment package (3,385,55 euro with augmented reality), you get the best navigation system you can have.
There’s plenty of room in the rear, and the interior height is a little higher than in the sedan. The 40/20/40 split-folding rear bench with one-button folding from the boot, and the standard electric tailgate help to load the boot which has a regular shape and a decent volume of at least 490 litres.
AllTerrain takes the best of the new C-Class: quality interior, top-of-the-line multimedia system, high-class comfort, excellent brakes. It’s well equipped and costs only slightly more than the estate version. Pity it lacks an adaptive or air suspension, which would have increased its versatility.