Tuesday 16, September 2012. The Green Piece Column.
Mercedes is to hit a new low, in emissions at least, as its E-Class hybrid arrives on the road this autumn- what has to be its most significant new eco-minded model of the past couple of years. The firm’s first hybrid model and one of the lowest emission car it has ever produced, the new E300 BlueTec Hybrid has hugely impressive fuel economy considering the great hulking size of the E-Class. The tiny A-Class is its only model which emits less (the A-Class goes as low as 98g/km).
As such, as you can imagine, there are not many vehicles in the E300’s class which can boast fuel economy as strong as the the E300, with a combined fuel economy figure in the mid sixties (65.7mpg to be precise). BMW’s rival model, the 5 Series ActiveHybrid only achieves a rating of 44.1mpg and the 5 Series’ most efficient diesel, the 520d EfficientDynamics, still lags behind with 62.8mpg. That’s because BMW has gone down the petrol-hybrid route, while Mercedes has teamed a diesel engine with an electric motor and battery pack in its model.
New low (in emissions anyway)
So it looks like Merc’s first hybrid model is already set to be a hit with business and private buyers looking for an executive saloon that doesn’t mean high fuel bills and compromised green credentials. With emissions as low as 109g/km CO2, that’s a 12% BiK rating and no VED to pay in the first year.
Deliveries in the UK are expected to commence in November and we’re intrigued by what we expect to be a very important halo model to Merc’s already very successful E-Class range.
So just what can we expect when the E-Class Hybrid joins us? Well, for a start be prepared to pay a serious premium for owning one of the brand’s first hybrids, the saloon starts from £39,645 while the estate will cost you £41, 435-compared to a starting price for the E-Class range beginning at £29,125 and £32,005 respectively for the saloon and estate models.
With these base models already blessed with 200 CDI BlueEfficiency technology and fuel economy as strong as 55.4 mpg on a combined cycle, the extra cost to go hybrid might be hard to justify. Especially with the pending removal of a +3 per cent diesel supplement on company car tax rates in 2016.
On the road
Nonetheless Mercedes’ PR machine is up and running, with the new model already completing a fuel economy challenge across the UK (see story), through which it succeeded in beating its own official fuel economy rating, achieving 67.3 mpg and even showed off the car’s impressive performance ability despite its huge, lumbering size.
Performance-wise, the E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid saloon is rated as being capable of accelerating from rest to 62 mph in 7.5-seconds before reaching a maximum speed of 150 mph-not bad for an executive saloon and sure to appeal to racy sales execs who want desperately get to their next appointment on time.
Combining a 2,143cc diesel engine with a 20 kW electric motor and a 19kW lithium-ion battery, the E-Class achieves 204 hp and maximum torque of 500 Nm of torque. The 20 kW electric motor is mounted within the 7G-Tronic Plus automatic transmission, to ensure that the entire hybrid system fits neatly inside the car, without loss of passenger or load capacity.
The gearbox substitutes a torque converter for a wet clutch system, allowing for the internal combustion engine to be disengaged entirely via the clutch and for electric-only drive to be maintained for short periods, boosting economy. So well packaged is the whole system that the electric motor adds on 65 mm to the total length of the transmission.
Standard equipment includes 17-inch alloy wheels – 16-inch wheels can be fitted as a no-cost option to achieve the lowest possible CO2 and economy figures. Also included are leather upholstery, Becker Map Pilot Navigation and LED daytime running lights.
We’ve already covered Mercedes’ sudden and very noticeable arrival on the green scene in a recent Green Piece (see story), but the E-Class is worth a column all of its own, such is its unique status on the car market and its importance as a status symbol to the Merc brand.
With less than a month to go to the model’s UK launch, it’s only a matter of time until we see whether or not fleets and businesses are willing to dig deep to actually afford to buy this halo of the E-Class range. It’s a big ticket purchase, but as E300 BlueTec Hybrid ups the carbon-cutting game for the executive sector, we’re expecting that won’t prove too much of a deterrent.
Faye has been writing about cars and environmental issues since 2007. A suspected eco-warrior working on the corporate inside, Faye mainly likes the weird, quirky vehicles that show a distinct environmental advantage. Her ideal car has enough room to fit a bale of hay in the boot. When not working, she likes nothing better than to head out on her bicycle and explore the countryside.
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