Mercedes-Benz has released details of its new E300 BlueTec hybrid and E400 hybrid E-class models, both debuting at this year’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
As part of the company’s downsizing policy, the new models have been developed with the philosophy of increasing efficiency without compromising comfort or use.
With the two new E-class hybrid models Mercedes has introduced a modular hybrid drive system – using lithium-ion batteries – that will allow the technology to be rolled out across the manufacturer’s range.
The new E300 BlueTec hybrid uses the existing 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine from the E250 CDI, producing 201bhp and 369lb ft of torque, but is supplemented by an electric motor producing a further 184lb ft.
The outcome of Mercedes’ modifications is claimed combined fuel economy of 67.2mpg with 109g/km CO2 emissions, qualifying the E300 BlueTec hybrid for car tax of £20 per year.
The new E400 hybrid features Mercedes’ 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine borrowed from the E350 BlueTec plus the firm’s modular hybrid drive system. This petrol engine car is more likely to appeal to US buyers, while the diesel-hybrid variant will be more suitable for European drivers.
Both E-class hybrids will be able to achieve 22mph (35kph) on electric power alone, but only for 0.62 miles – so we don’t expect this to be these hybrids’ finest selling point.
Comfort and practicality
A new ‘Sailing’ function comes as part of the new hybrid propulsion system, allowing the combustion engine to be switched into ‘deceleration mode’ below 100mph – letting the car maintain its current speed through the electric motor only – as the car’s steering, brakes and climate control systems all operate electrically.
With a brake energy recuperation system recharging the batteries under deceleration, the regenerative braking technology can also be used to slow the car further through increasing the electric motor’s resistance.
As well as engine stop-start systems, both hybrids also come with a hold function – activated by fully depressing the brake pedal when stationary – which switches off the car’s engine.
The E300 BlueTec hybrid is being launched in Europe first, while the E400 hybrid will go on sale in the America initially. A UK launch date and pricing for either model is yet to be confirmed.