In a matter of a couple of days both Volvo and Mercedes-Benz unveiled their latest posh high-riding wagons to the world. In the case of the German brand, it was their first attempt at this type of car.
It does make you wonder though, in a time where crossovers and SUVs are all rage, why companies like Audi, Volvo, Subaru, Skoda, Volkswagen, and now Mercedes-Benz bother with rugged wagons.
If we’re to believe what most car manufacturers believe, including the aforementioned companies, wagons are outdated and unstylish family cars and crossovers and SUVs are the Messiah. Take a look at what happened after Nissan launched the Qashqai. Almost every single mainstream and premium manufacturer jumped on the affordable crossover segment. Which then led to more crossover niches and segments.
Then there’s all the premium brands venturing out to make crossovers and SUVs. Manufacturers once known for their sports cars and luxury sedans are now making SUVs and crossovers to appease market demands. It’s a profitable segment too. Lamborghini, Bentley, Maserati, and Porsche are all making SUVs and crossovers instead of wagons.
So why then should we care that Volvo and Mercedes are making high-riding wagons that are ‘almost SUVs’? Well because they’re just cooler. Sure, you don’t get the same ‘bling’ factor as you would with a SUV but does everyone really want to look like a cashed up drug dealer or WAG when commuting?
There’s also something very ‘landed gentry’ about these sorts of wagons. You could almost imagine if Downton Abbey were set in the modern day they’d probably have a Volvo V90 Cross Country or an Audi Allroad rather than a XC90 or Q7.
Volvo have been doing jacked up wagons for nearly two decades now. Subaru were there first with the Outback in 1994. However, Volvo introduced the V70 Cross Country soon after in 1996. Audi joined the party with the first A6 allroad in 1999. So the Swedes know what they’re doing when it comes to these sorts of things.
Their latest offering, the V90 Cross Country, completes their ’90’ range complimenting the S90 sedan, V90 wagon, and XC90 SUV. Obviously, the Cross Country is based on the V90 wagon. Unlike Cross Countries of the past, the new V90 Cross Country has undergone some serious chassis work.
Ride height has increased by 65mm, front track has been widened by 42mm, and the rear has been widened by 40mm. All cars will be equipped with specially designed tyres to work for both better grip both on and off-road and for sorting out uneven surfaces.
Hill Descent Control and a Rough Road driving mode will be fitted as standard, while air suspension for the rear will be an option. The V90 Cross Country will be fitted with the same petrol and diesel engines as the V90 wagon. Luckily, the luggage space is also carried over from the V90 wagon meaning there’s 560L/1526L of space.
While its rivals have got a 20 year head start, Mercedes’ first try at a high-riding wagon seems to have all the right ingredients. Based on the posh E-Class wagon, it has a more rugged look compared to its based car, and has of course been raised by many millimetres.
The E-Class All Terrain sits 121mm higher than the standard E-Class wagon but can be raised up to 141mm or 156mm thanks to its adjustable air suspension. The All Terrain also gets a bespoke version of Merc’s 4MATIC system for greater traction and ride comfort.
The All-Terrain also gets an appropriately named ‘All Terrain’ mode for its Drive Select system. This automatically increases the car’s ride height to its middle setting (141mm) and adjusts the stability control, active yaw control, and acceleration skid control for optimum go-anywhere ability.
You even get a display on the COMAND infotainment system showing various data such as steering angle, suspension level, and angle of inclination of the car. Mmm, just what you need for trips to the Polo club.
Like the V90 Cross Country, the E All Terrain will also get the same petrol and diesel engines as its donor car. There’s no word on an AMG version of the All Terrain, though that would be all sorts of ridiculous. What’s not ridiculous is the monstrous boot space, which is rated at 640L/1820L of capacity.
So, are you a fan of these rugged posh wagons or do you think Volvo and Mercedes should’ve just scrapped the idea and stuck to SUVs and crossovers instead?