The Mercedes-Benz E 220 d 4MATIC Estate has a diesel rather than a petrol or plug-in hybrid powertrain, so can this possibly be the recommended engine option?
Diesels are being demonised in the media, so is it possible to recommend the Mercedes-Benz E 220 d 4MATIC Estate over the petrol or plug-in hybrid models? Read on to find out…
The Mercedes-Benz E 220 d 4MATIC AMG Line Estate has a newly-developed four-cylinder 2-litre diesel engine mated to a 9G-TRONIC nine-speed automatic transmission and 4MATIC all-wheel drive.
The exterior styling exudes all the class expected of a Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and the interior is the normal glittery affair. This is the Estate model, so there’s a cargo volume of up to 1820 litres on offer, as well as self-levelling rear air suspension. There’s also a useful towing capacity of up to 2100 kg.
The week before the E 220 d arrived, we had a plug-in hybrid E 350 e on test. The plug-in hybrid delivered an electric range of between 9 and 12 miles in real-life driving. So it was quite a contrast to take delivery of the E 220 d with a driving range of almost 800 miles displayed. Okay, so the plug-in hybrid also has a petrol engine, but it barely made it from Manchester to Bristol and back on one tank (350 miles). So despite the pressure from legislators and the media to opt for a plug-in hybrid over a diesel, the E 220 d had started off on a good note, promising many miles of driving before needing to refuel.
Things continued to go well. The diesel engine is smooth and has lots of torque, although it can be slightly noisy at times. It’s a more conventional, direct driving experience than the plug-in hybrid, which can sometimes feel like there’s a number of elements within the powertrain trying to integrate with each other, and not always being fully successful in doing this.
Our test car had 4MATIC all-wheel drive. Although the benefits of this aren’t as noticeable in summer, it only takes one quick drive in poor winter weather conditions to prove the advantages of the extra grip.
The E 220 d Estate exhibits the impressive ride comfort and decent handling of the saloon, and the steering feel and weight is what you would expect of an E-Class Mercedes.
The 9-speed automatic transmission aims to offer good efficiency, and it generally works well, although ultimately its reactions aren’t as instant, and its changes aren’t as seamless, as some rivals. Selecting reverse is a good example; it feels like there’s a long wait before the car starts to move backwards, which isn’t ideal, especially if other cars are waiting for you to move out of the way.
Although the interior of the E-Class appears upmarket, the dashboard isn’t as functional as, for example, that of a BMW.
The official combined fuel economy of the Mercedes-Benz E 220 d 4MATIC AMG Line Estate is 57.7mpg (equating to 137g/km CO2 emissions). Unlike the plug-in hybrid model, we came reasonably close to achieving this figure in real life driving. Over a week with the car in mixed driving, we averaged 50.6mpg. As a comparison, after a week with the E 350 e plug-in hybrid, which has an official combined economy figure of 134.5 mpg, we averaged 43.8mpg. So in mixed real-life driving, the diesel was more economical than the plug-in hybrid. If you bought the E 350 e and drove most journeys on electric power (unlike our usage pattern), it would be likely to deliver better economy – and of course lower emissions.
It’s worth noting that the base 220d model returns 67.3mpg and 109g/km CO2. The 4MATIC SE delivers 126g/km CO2, and the 4MATIC AMG Line, as tested (with its 19-inch wheels) emits 137g/km CO2. So there’s an economy and emissions penalty for all-wheel drive and the 19-inch AMG Line wheels.
The Mercedes-Benz E 220 d 4MATIC AMG Line Estate costs £42,855. In comparison, the Mercedes-Benz E 350 e AMG LINE Saloon costs £47,720. So the plug-in hybrid is more expensive, but it has a BIK rate of just 13% (or 9% for the SE model), compared to the company car tax liability (2017/18) of 29% for the E 220 d 4MATIC AMG Line Estate. This is why the plug-in hybrid is likely to sell well, even though it will probably be less economical than the diesel for many people’s driving patterns.
The AMG Line costs £2,495 more than the SE model.
As well as the Estate and the Saloon, there’s now also the new E 350 d 4MATIC All-Terrain Edition.
Green Car Guide recommends the most efficient cars, as long as they’re also good to drive. With all the current focus on diesel emissions, and the consensus that electric cars are the way forward, we would be expected to recommend the E 350 e plug-in hybrid over the diesel. For some people, if most of their driving is less than 10 miles between charges, the E 350 e will offer greater economy and lower emissions. But for us, and we suspect for many others, the diesel E 220 d is the better choice, particularly as the real-life all-electric range of the E 350 e is so short, at around 9-12 miles. The diesel model offers a huge driving range between fuel stops, it’s likely to be more economical for the driving patterns of most owners (even with the added security – and weight – of all-wheel drive), and it’s better to drive. And of course the Estate is more practical than the Saloon. So all in all, the Mercedes-Benz E 220 d 4MATIC AMG Line Estate is awarded a Green Car Guide rating of 8 out of 10.