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2003 Mercedes-Benz AWD Line by Jim McCraw (1/27/2003)
The S-Class and C-Class sprout all-wheel drive to make it a hat trick.
MARSEILLE, France — After an unprecedented number of new vehicle introductions in 2002, Mercedes-Benz is keeping the momentum, first with the introduction last month of C-Class and S-Class 4Matic all-wheel-drive models and this month with the introduction of two more: the E-Class station wagon, and the awesome SL600 twin-turbo V-12 sports roadster.
The E320 wagon, to be joined later by the company’s first V-8 wagon, the E500, has done nothing less than turn the station wagon world upside down. The new E wagon is longer, wider, taller, and roomier than the old E wagon, and certainly more beautiful. Everything aft of the second seat has been so thoroughly rethought, retooled and re-engineered that the E320 wagon makes every other station wagon in the business look like an amateur in the professional world of cargo hauling. Later in the year, in September, both the E320 and E500 wagons should be available with the 4Matic all-wheel-drive system as well.
The E-Class wagon story goes deep and wide. For starters, there is the one-piece power tailgate, which pops open and raises to its highest point at the touch of a button on the key fob, so that the driver can time its opening for just the right moment and do it with one finger from a good distance away. When you’re finished loading, reach up and touch the button on the bottom surface of the gate, and it closes. If anything or anyone gets in the way, it stops. The cargo cover goes up and down with the tailgate, and the tailgate can be stopped at any point in its travel with another click.