The Mercedes-Benz E-Class E 300 BlueTEC HYBRID has an official combined economy figure of 65.7mpg, which is highly impressive for such a large and luxurious executive car.
It wasn’t too long ago when you’d be lucky to find an executive car with fuel economy that exceeded 30mpg. Therefore the Mercedes-Benz E 300 BlueTEC HYBRID, with an official combined economy figure of 65.7mpg, is a demonstration of real progress. Add to this the fact that Mercedes was quite late coming to the green car party, and the E 300 is even more impressive.
The E 300 is still a Mercedes – so it has all the engineering and badge kudos that buyers want. Underneath the executive exterior packaging is Mercedes’ 2143cc, 4-cylinder diesel engine – with a hybrid battery and electric motor added. The BlueTEC system also reduces NOx emissions , so the Mercedes is a genuinely low emission car.
Compared to some other hybrids, the good news is that the hybrid system doesn’t encroach into the car’s luggage space – the E-Class still has a huge boot . This is because the lithium-ion battery, which captures energy that would otherwise be lost when braking, is in the engine compartment; and the electric motor is contained within the 7-speed automatic gearbox.
The exterior design of the E-Class certainly gives it presence. Our test car had 245/45 tyres on 17-inch alloys, and these really enhanced the appearance of the E 300 compared to when it sits on smaller 16-inch wheels.
The interior environment is certainly successful in giving the impression of an upmarket luxury car, in terms of its design, materials and space. However there are certain quirky Mercedes features.
The gear selector is still on the right hand side of the steering column, and the combined indicator/wiper stalk is still on the left of the steering column, along with a separate cruise control stalk. If you’re a regular Mercedes driver then this is all likely to be familiar. However if you’re considering swapping from another brand, then you may find the gear selector in an unintuitive place, you may find that you activate the cruise control stalk by mistake when trying to indicate, and you may get fed up with having to twist the stalk to get the wipers working rather than just flicking it up.
There’s also the controller for the multimedia system, which is positioned between the front seats, but the buttons to select functions such as satnav or the radio are positioned separately, on the dashboard centre console. Then there’s the foot-operated parking brake
The E 300 came with a long list of the latest technology that’s designed to help you avoid crashing, ranging from Distronic Plus with Pre-Safe Brake to Lane-Tracking Package and Night View Assist (all of which were extra-cost options).
The E-Class is designed to provide executive-class comfort on long motorway journeys. The E-Class hybrid also achieved this mission, whilst delivering up to 60mpg on some motorways runs – so scoring a big tick in our book.
At motorway speeds the E-Class feels comfortable, refined, quiet and very stable and secure; this is the environment that it was designed for. On other roads, it’s not quite in the same comfort zone. The E-Class is a big, heavy car (it weighs 1845 Kg); it feels like it has very solid engineering, which is a good sign for longevity, but it also means that it’s not the most agile of vehicles – either in urban areas or on A and B-roads.
The transmission doesn’t help with the car’s responsiveness; once it’s going, it’s very effective, but it’s not the quickest reacting of systems from standstill. The car also comes with steering-wheel mounted paddles if you have a desire to override the automatic transmission, but these offered no particular benefit during our week with the car.
The changeover between running on the diesel engine and the electric motor is generally fairly seamless, but not as imperceptible as in a petrol-electric Lexus.
The E 300 has a switch – somewhat hidden away on the passenger side of the transmission tunnel – to allow you to choose between two driving modes – either E for Economy or S for Sport. Economy is what it says on the tin – the car’s responses are adjusted in the interests of maximum fuel economy. Sport improves responsiveness, but don’t expect the button to transform the E 300 into an AMG model.
The electric motor can generate up to an additional 250 Nm torque, which helps with performance. However the hybrid system isn’t able to provide electric-only running for any length of time.
There is one area in which Mercedes deserves huge praise – fitting this test car with
– Dunlop SP Wintersport M3s. Our week with the E-Class included a 24-hour period when there was a huge dump of snow. Most other cars, including some 4x4s on standard tyres, couldn’t get anywhere. Yet the E-Class – a rear-wheel drive automatic, with big fat wheels, which would normally be one of the worst cars to drive in such conditions – was able to drive anywhere .
Unlike most press cars fitted with winter tyres, the E300 had large, wide alloys, and the winter tyres were also wide and low profile. This is unusual for winter tyres, and it was expected that their performance would suffer as a result. Although they ultimately didn’t have the same levels of traction and grip in deep snow as narrower winter tyres, they still allowed the E-Class to be used in the snow when most other cars couldn’t move.
As a perfect example, at one point the E-Class was parked in a car park with a very thin covering of snow and ice , and another E-Class parked next to it. When the other E-Class tried to drive out of the car park, it couldn’t move anywhere – the rear wheels were just spinning. Whereas our hybrid just drove away with absolutely no problems . This was a perfect example of the benefits of winter tyres.
The Mercedes-Benz E 300 BlueTEC HYBRID has an official combined economy figure of 65.7mpg, which equates to emissions of 109g/km CO2. However, in common with models from other manufacturers, the emissions vary depending upon the wheel size specified. The E 300 has emissions of 109g/km CO2 with 16-inch wheels; 111g/km CO2 with 17-inch wheels; and 112g/km CO2 with 18-inch wheels.
Overall, after a week of mixed driving, we averaged 47.9mpg. However, we tested the E 300 at a constant 65-70mph over 30 miles on the motorway and achieved 61.4mpg – showing that it is capable of impressive economy for this class of car. There is one feature that helps it achieve this level of efficiency on the motorway – the E 300 has a ‘sailing’ function, meaning that the diesel engine can be switched off when the car is coasting (at speeds of up to 100mph), with the electric motor taking over, if there is sufficient charge in the hybrid system’s battery, so saving fuel. There’s also an ECO start/stop function, which helps to save fuel when at a standstill.
All hybrids perform very well on the NEDC test, but motorists find it difficult to achieve the same levels of economy in real life. That’s because the NEDC test is conducted at very low loads and over a very short ‘distance’ (in the lab) – in real life it’s very difficult to drive so delicately, and as soon as you drive out of the NEDC cycle, then the economy suffers. Our test shows that the E 300 is capable of achieving good economy, if driven carefully. This also translates to a long driving range between fuel stops.
The Mercedes-Benz E 300 BlueTEC HYBRID costs £39,645. It’s well-equipped, however our test car had a number of options, taking the total cost to £53,395. Extra items of equipment included luxury
As you can see, the cost of the options can mount up very quickly. The same hybrid technology is also available in the E-Class estate as well as the saloon.
In terms of rivals, consideration should be given to the BMW 520d EfficientDynamics, which achieves 62.8mpg – coming very close to the 65.7mpg of the E 300, but without expensive and heavy hybrid technology, and it costs £30,435 – in other words £9,000 less than the E-Class.
The E 300 even has a rival from within its own ranks – the E-Class E220 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY can manage 57.7mpg and costs just £31,615.
The Mercedes-Benz E 300 BlueTEC HYBRID is without doubt an impressive car. For people looking for the status of a Mercedes executive car, the E-Class delivers successfully – and it also offers the promise of 65.7mpg.
As with all hybrids, you have to drive the E 300 carefully to achieve economy that is close to this official figure. Our test showed that 60mpg is possible in motorway driving, and at the same time the E-Class provides a comfortable, secure, high quality and high-tech driving experience. It’s not the quickest reacting or most agile of cars, and there’s certainly a price premium to pay for the hybrid tech – but this is unlikely to put off people who are set on an E-Class.
Despite all the impressive hybrid – and other – technology on the car, one of the most enduring memories of the car will be how effective the winter tyres were. It was used throughout the 24-hour period when huge amounts of the white stuff fell out of the sky, when all other E-Classes, and virtually all other cars, were unable to get anywhere, showing the importance of specifying the right type of rubber for winter. The Mercedes-Benz E 300 BlueTEC HYBRID gets a Green-Car-Guide rating of 8 out of 10.