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First drive: Mercedes-Benz E 300 BlueTec Hybrid. Image by Mercedes-Benz.

First drive: Mercedes-Benz E 300 BlueTec Hybrid
Headline economy figures give Merc's E 300 Hybrid bragging rights in the luxury car sector.

   



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| First Drive | Stuttgart, Germany | Mercedes-Benz E 300 BlueTec Hybrid |

Overall rating: 4 4 4 4 4

The first Mercedes-Benz diesel-electric hybrid offering promises 67.3mpg and 109g/km all in a recognisable E-Class shell. On paper it's the world's most fuel-efficient model in the luxury segment, and, price depending, with barely a compromise to speak of.

Key Facts

Model driven: Mercedes-Benz E 300 BlueTec Hybrid
Pricing: 40,000 (estimated)
Engine: 2.1-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel plus electric motor
Transmission: seven-speed 7G-Tronic Plus automatic, rear-wheel drive
Body style: four-door saloon
Rivals: Audi A6 Hybrid, BMW ActiveHybrid 5, Lexus GS 450h
CO2 emissions: 109g/km
Combined economy: 67.3mpg
Top speed: 150mph
0-62mph: 7.5 seconds
Power: 204hp at 4,200rpm (engine) and 20hp (electric motor)
Torque: 500Nm at 1,600rpm
EV range: 0.6 miles at up to 22mph

In the Metal: 4 4 4 4 4

Positively, there's nothing to tell it apart from a regular E-Class except the hybrid badge on its boot. The E 300's hybrid economy figure may be worth bragging about, but Mercedes has more class than littering the body with blue flashes and show-off badges. The E-Class design is three years old now, and its sharp styling and distinctive funny headlights aren't for everyone, but it's still an imposing luxury car, especially on attractive 18-inch five-spoke alloys.

Inside the E 300 Hybrid is very highly specified and flush with typical E-Class comfort, functionality and robustness. Again, your only hybrid reminders are a few electric dashboard readouts indicating the electric motor's current status and the battery charge. As Mercedes has opted for a very small electric motor, the battery required - a 0.8kWh lithium-ion item - fits snugly under the bonnet and doesn't encroach on any passenger or boot space, giving doubters one less excuse not to buy hybrid.

Driving it: 4 4 4 4 4

It's one for the fuel economy minded and not the sporting driver, and unashamedly so. An E-Class with 67.3mpg that doesn't need plugging in is a superb achievement, and compellingly it loses nothing in performance to the E 250 CDI, with which it shares its engine. The hybrid may lug around an extra 100kg in hybrid components, but the extra 20hp on tap from the electric motor means it hits 62mph in 7.5 seconds. That's 0.2 seconds quicker than the E 250 CDI while travelling an extra 14 miles for each gallon it sups. Convincing figures for the E 300 BlueTec Hybrid then, as long as you can live with the technology.

With gentle throttle, the electric motor performs the start up and go tasks on its own in silent smoothness, before the turbodiesel joins the party at 22mph. Floor the accelerator and the performance from the two power sources combine to give impressive shove for such a fuel miser. Importantly, its hybrid nature comes at little cost to the enjoyment of the drive, the E 300 feeling like any other E-Class diesel for the majority of the time.

The engine start-up and shut-downs when shifting from pure electric to combined diesel and electric are seamless, often taking place without you noticing. There is a distinctive diesel rattle when the engine starts up at slow speed however, but it is in no way obtrusive in the big Merc's cosseting and impressively sound-proofed interior.

At up to 100mph, backing off the throttle sees the engine shut itself down and you're in fuel-saving 'sailing' mode, which comes into its own on long downhill sections. Stomp on the throttle at this point and there is a noticeable lag while the engine wakes up again, but this is the only complaint on what is an all-round conventional and impressive E-Class drive.

What you get for your Money: 3 3 3 3 3

Mercedes won't be announcing prices or equipment levels for the E 300 BlueTec Hybrid until late 2012, but has revealed it will cost 51,794 in Germany for the saloon variant (an estate will also arrive at launch). This translates to a few grand over 40,000 at current exchange rates, but Mercedes should be keen to keep it under 40k on our shores. Still not cheap when compared to the bulk of the E-Class range and other luxury rivals with an eco bent, but the E 300 Hybrid's standard kit is set to be very generous.

Worth Noting

Mercedes is keen to point out that this is the world's most fuel-efficient model in the luxury segment, and truly raises the bar in terms of mpg and CO2 for BMW's ActiveHybrid 5 and Audi's A6 Hybrid and the like to follow. Its quoted 67.3mpg figure was actually bettered by some journalists on our German city/countryside/Autobahn test, showing that this mighty figure isn't an unreasonable target for the everyday driver. Chuck in the CO2 figure of 109g/km and the E 300 Hybrid has 'fleet car winner' written all over it.

Summary

Mercedes has taken the simple approach to a hybrid luxury model here, and it's worked. A combination of its four-cylinder diesel and a small, unobtrusive electric motor means class-leading economy with no loss of performance and no reason to fear potential hybrid compromises. Its price when announced will determine if it proves as tempting to private buyers as it's sure to for company car drivers.


Iain Curry - 2 Apr 2012



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2012 Merceds-Benz E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2012 Merceds-Benz E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2012 Merceds-Benz E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2012 Merceds-Benz E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2012 Merceds-Benz E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid. Image by Mercedes-Benz.

2012 Merceds-Benz E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2012 Merceds-Benz E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2012 Merceds-Benz E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2012 Merceds-Benz E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2012 Merceds-Benz E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid. Image by Mercedes-Benz.



2012 Merceds-Benz E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2012 Merceds-Benz E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2012 Merceds-Benz E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2012 Merceds-Benz E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2012 Merceds-Benz E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2012 Merceds-Benz E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2012 Merceds-Benz E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2012 Merceds-Benz E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 






 

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