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E-hybrid provides E-lectric thrills


LEXUS and BMW have had the luxury hybrid segment to themselves for far too long now. The Lexus GS and BMW ActiveHybrid 5 are undoubtedly decent cars, but variety is the spice of life and this segment desperately needs some seasoning.

Mercedes-Benz is adding some salt and pepper to the mix in the shape of a new hybrid, based on the E-Class you read about on the front page.

The most important thing you need to know is that the E300 BlueTEC Hybrid is based on the E250 CDI, which means that it’s South Africa’s first diesel hybrid. Not a bad way for Merc to enter the hybrid arena.

The 2.2-litre diesel engine by itself produces 150kW and 500Nm of torque. The powertrain combines with an electric motor rated at 20kW and 250Nm to produce an overall output of 170kW and 590Nm of torque.

While it may not have the kilowatt output of its competitors, it decimates them in the torque stakes. The E-Class hybrid has more than double the torque of the Lexus, in fact. On the road therefore, the E300 BlueTEC HYBRID is comparable to the E300 CDI with its 170 kW and 540 Nm on tap.

The 0-100km/h acceleration run is over and done with in 7.5 seconds and it only runs out of steam at 240km/h. While that is impressive, it’s not really the point, is it? 
Things only start to get really impressive when you get to the fuel-consumption and emissions figures. Mercedes claims 4.2 litres/100km on the combined cycle and 110g/km of Co2, or around 35% better than its own E300 CDI. This big barge of a luxury car is, if the figures are to be believed, more frugal and kinder to the environment than a Kia Picanto.

The car also comes standard with a host of green functions. This includes the obligatory stop/start, kinetic energy recuperation and a sailing function. The sailing function shuts down the combustion engine and maintains the speed by using the electric motor until the battery needs recharging.

As standard, the hybrid comes with a radio/CD/MP3 player with USB connection in the armrest and Bluetooth connectivity. The centre console looks rather stylish with a 14.7cm TFT colour display. The steering wheel and seats are clad in the finest leather, giving this frugal hybrid an upmarket feel.

Thanks to smart engineering, space hasn’t been compromised in any way. The interior is as spacious as always and you even get a decent amount of kit as standard. Safety levels are also equivalent with other models in the E-Class range.

The latest hybrid to reach our shores retails for R634 000. This makes it R123 000 cheaper than the BMW and a whopping R137 000 less than the Lexus.

As with all Mercedes-Benz passenger cars, the new E-Class comes standard with a PremiumDrive 6-year/100 000 km maintenance contract with no customer contribution.

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