One-off luxury wagon gets portal hubs, 31-inch tires, & 16 inches of ground clearance

God love Mercedes-Benz and its outlandish imagination for all things off-roading. The automaker has built a one-off 4x4² version of its new E-Class All-Terrain. Yes, a 4x4²! You’ll recognize that odd designation from the AMG G550 4x4², the four-wheeled version of the high-riding AMG G63 6x6. But it’s not just the name that’s similar. Mercedes actually fitted the E-Class wagon with the same Portal hubs as the G550 4x4². The extra height gives this AWD car a whopping 16 inches of ground clearance. That’s equal to a Humvee!

The project is the brainchild of Jürgen Eberle, a vehicle development engineer assigned to the E-Class. According to Auto Express, Eberle wanted to build something that gave the new 2017 E-Class All-Terrain some credence to its name. Eberle was eventually given a small budget after approaching his bosses with the idea. The E-Class suspension was modified to accommodate the large portal hub assemblies at each wheel, which drastically widened the E-Class’ track. This necessitated fender flares, which Eberle and his team crafted from carbon fiber. Beadlock wheel and 31-inch-tall winter tires were then added to round out the project. The best part – nothing else changes. The remainder of the exterior and all of the interior is standard E-Class All-Terrain, making this one awesome looker.

Continue reading for more on the Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain 4x4².

What Makes the E-Class All-Terrain 4x4² so Special?

2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain 4x4² Wagon Exterior High Resolution
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2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain 4x4² Wagon Exterior High Resolution
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2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain 4x4² Wagon Exterior High Resolution
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The normal-looking Benz sits on 31-inch tires with beadlock wheels and massive fender flares.

Well, if you have to ask, you’re probably blind. Jokes aside, the changes to this E-Class wagon are clearly visible. The normal-looking Benz sits on 31-inch tires with beadlock wheels and massive fender flares. Yep, it’s undeniably different, all right. Of course, it’s based on the new-for-2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain, which is a slightly lifted E-Class with 4Matic AWD and some extra body cladding. It competes with things like the Audi A6 Allroad and Volvo V90 Cross Country.

Jürgen Eberle and his team started with the portal hubs. What are those, you ask? Well, they essentially add height to the suspension via the mounting point for each wheel. Portals do this by changing the centerline of the axle into the wheel hub. So, the axle half-shafts run from the differentials into the top of the portal hubs, torque travels through a set of vertically arranged gears, and then into an output shaft several inches below where the axle shaft bolts on. Portals basically add ground clearance without having a crazy angle at each axles’ U-joints or having low-hanging control arms or axle housings.

2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain 4x4² Wagon Exterior High Resolution
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The portal hubs are also the only mechanical modification to this E-Class All-Terrain. The 3.5-liter turbocharged V-6 and its 328 horsepower remain unchanged. Sadly, the same is true for the 4Matic AWD system. Mercedes’ 4Matic system, at least in the E-Class application, is designed more as an all-weather AWD system, not as a go-anywhere AWD system. What’s the difference? Despite its All-Terrain name, the E-Class doesn’t have a low-range gearset or locking differentials. That means it can’t use gear reduction to multiply torque to the wheels for digging through deep mud or climbing steep hills. The missing locking differentials also allow wheels to spin freely should they lose traction, just as it has in the photo above.

While the E-Class All-Terrain 4x4² isn’t as off-road capable as its appearance suggests, its interior remains world-class. Mercedes has done a spectacular job with the new E-Class, giving it a very similar look and feel as the ultra-plushy S-Class. And because it’s an E-Class Estate, it still boasts 23.6 cubic feet of cargo room behind the second row and an impressive 64.3 cubic feet with the second-row folded.

2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain 4x4² Wagon Exterior High Resolution
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But alas, it’s doubtful Mercedes will ever build a 4x4² version of the E-Class. Of course, with all the positive feedback Mercedes is reportedly getting, anything is possible. Perhaps the E-Class All-Terrain 4x4² will be the third member of Mercedes’ outrageous, high-riding off-roaders.

References

2016 Mercedes-Benz G500 4x4² High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2016 Mercedes-Benz G500 4x4².

2018 Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the2018 Mercedes E-Class All-Terrain.

2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Wagon
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Read our full review on the2018 Mercedes E-Class Wagon.

Source: Auto Express

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