Good Oil: Mercedes-Benz E400 Estate in hiking boots? Yes please
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The new Holden Commodore ZB (which is a great drive, by the way, whatever rabidly parochial Aussie V8 fans might tell you) comes with several new additions to the range. One is a rather attractive Tourer wagon, which features an all-wheel drivetrain and lots of ruggedised exterior panels.
It’s rather cool, save for one thing: the “raised ride height” just isn’t high enough.
Underneath those beefier wheel arches, there is probably more clearance between the arches and the tops of the tyres, than between the rocker panels and the ground below. It’s not a major blow, but if you’re going to offer a car with this attribute, you want to make sure it’s going to get over the sorts of obstacles the brochure artwork suggests it can.
And we’ve found a car that takes this same wagon-wearing-hiking-boots aesthetic and jacks things up appropriately. Even better, it’s a Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon; one of the most decently proportioned and usable things the Stuttgart-headquartered brand makes.
Called the E400 All-Terrain 4x4-squared, it’s like a squatter G-Wagen. Being of E400 format, it boasts a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6, so there’s plenty of muscle to haul that heft over rocks and through mud.
And that’s the thing with this Junkyard Wars-esque take on the luxury wagon; it has proper off-road ability in spades. It also features proper all-terrain tyres, skid plates and plenty of other armour.
Will it go on sale? No word on whether there’ll be a right-hand drive version, but chances are the E400 All-Terrain 4x4-squared will fill a similarly shaped (but with one less axle) niche that Mercedes’ bonkers G63 AMG 6x6 six-wheeler fills for moneyed-up Euro types. Hey, at least the mud-raider E400 will be much cheaper.
Alpina releases pumped-up version of X3 SUV
Okay, we are all for a sporty SUV. It’s a thing and has been since Porsche turbocharged the Cayenne and Land Rover got in on the action with the Range Rover Sport. And some of these sporty SUVs with plenty of passenger-carrying abilities are great to drive.
But when you’re shelling out for something more special — and we’re talking top-to-toe custom house makeover here, rather than simple bolt-on body kit components — why would you choose to have the SUV version? Why indeed. Although long-time BMW re-imaginer, Alpina, has gone ahead and provided the opportunity, anyway.
The Alpina XD3 is based on BMW’s mid-sized X3 SUV. In M40i format, the X3 is already a capable thing, with its straight-from-the-factory 3.0-litre turbo V6 offering up 265kW of power and 500Nm of torque.
The Alpina re-fettle nets you a power gain of a rather slim 21kW, although it does boast a useful extra 200Nm of torque. Not that an Alpina-skinned SUV is probably going to be hauling tandem trailers full of camping kit.
The XD3 is on display at the Geneva Motor Show. You’ll know the show stand before you see the signage. It will be the one crowded with gents in their late 50s wearing caramel linen suits, sunglasses indoors and privately insisting their limp ponytail still ably represents untamed machismo.
Camry made out of Lego? Someone must have asked
At the end of this month, there is to be what we must admit sounds like an excellent event for any rabid Lego fan.
Slight catch is that the upcoming Brickman Awesome Exhibition is in Melbourne, so you’ll need to fly there to check it out.
But if those hardy wee injection-moulded thermoplastic polymer blocks are your thing, it would appear this is a must-see show.
Ryan McNaught is the only certified professional — yes, professional — Lego builder in the Southern Hemisphere, and only one of 14 such craftspeople in the world.
If you can build it, then this chap’s probably spent an unfeasibly long time figuring out how to. One aspect of the Brickman Awesome Exhibition did have us wondering, however.
Toyota Australia issued a breathless press release announcing that McNaught will build a full-sized block version of one of its cars. Sounds cool. Toyota 86? Land Cruiser FJ40? Old school Supra to celebrate the return of the nameplate? Um, no. The 1:1 scale Lego recreation will be a Camry sedan.
Hmm. Not that the Camry is an unworthy subject. There’s a nobleness to the millions of kilometres this trusted — but bland — workhorse travels in the name of sales calls around Australia and New Zealand.
But why would anyone spend 800 hours building a Camry out of Lego? McNaught is clearly creative, but we can’t help but wonder at the paucity of his ambition.