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Mercedes-Benz could take on Audi’s allroad with a rugged-looking station wagon

Mercedes-Benz has confirmed it could launch a rugged-looking station wagon aimed right at the Audi allroad in the not-too-distant future.

The company hasn’t decided if the yet-unnamed wagon will be based on the current C-Class wagon or on the next generation of the E-Class wagon, and executives hint that both models could eventually get a more capable counterpart. Regardless, Mercedes’ brawny wagon will gain protective black plastic trim on both bumpers, on the rocker panels and over the wheel arches, a sprinkling of brushed  aluminum accents, roof rails, and several model-specific trim pieces.

The wagon will be more capable than its regular-production counterpart thanks to a raised ground clearance and Mercedes’ time-tested 4Matic all-wheel drive system. Skid plats front and back will help protect vital mechanical components when the going gets tough, and the soft-roader could also feature an adjustable air suspension, a feature that’s lacking on the A6-based allroad.

Mercedes executives point out that it’s fairly difficult to make a favorable business case for an allroad-like wagon because it’s a niche model that’s only popular in a small handful of markets around the globe.

“In Italy and southern Europe the allroad concept is developing quite successfully, but we can’t say that about Germany and northern Europe. In the United States, no matter how long, short, or high they don’t like station wagons,” explained Matthias Luhrs, Mercedes’ vice president of sales, during the global launch of the 2016 GLC-Class.

Related: Next-gen E-Class to get straight-six engine

Mercedes has not revealed when it will decide whether or not to build a rugged-looking station wagon. A C-Class-based model could be launched in about a year, but an E-Class-based model is still at least two and a half years away because the next-gen E wagon isn’t scheduled to bow until March of next year at the earliest.

Don’t get your hopes up: even if the project gets the green light for production, the station wagon stands virtually no chance of ever making the trip across the Pond.