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Mercedes-Benz E300 Hybrid: Test Drive Review

Date: 20 November 2012   |   Author: Jack Carfrae

Category: Upper medium
P11D price: £39,590
Key rival: Peugeot 508 RXH

Mercedes has bucked the trend for petrol-powered hybrids and followed French manufacturers Peugeot and Citroen by introducing a diesel-electric hybrid to the marketplace.

Available as a saloon and an estate, the E300 Hybrid marks the premium German brand's first serious stab at a mass-market hybrid in the UK, and is pitched squarely at the corporate arena.

Already clean and frugal in its standard guise, the firm's existing 204hp 2.1-litre diesel engine provides most of the power. It's bolstered by a 27hp electric motor, itself powered by a 19kW lithium-ion battery pack, which provide consistent extra shove and electric-only propulsion at low speeds.

Mercedes claims that the extra poke from the electric motor culminates in performance that's on a par with a six-cylinder engine. It's a slightly bold claim because the E300 comes across more like a powerful four-cylinder, but it's by no means short of punch, especially in the mid range.

What it does lack is the smoothness of a six-cylinder, as the smaller engine is a little gruff and unrefined, while the shift between electric and internal combustion power isn't as seamless as it is in other hybrids such as the Toyota Prius. Save for that and the silence at low speed, you'd never know you were driving anything other than a conventional E-class, though.

Road noise is intrusive, which is surprising given the fact that we tested the car on its smallest 16-inch alloy wheels. Mercedes specifies 17-inch wheels as standard, but the smaller rims can be had as a no-cost option. That sounds pedantic but it's worthwhile, because 17s add another 2g/km (it emits 109g/km on 16-inch wheels) and nudge the Merc up one BIK band to 14%.

In terms of cost, there is a significant P11D premium over and above a run-of-the-mill diesel E-class - you won't see much change from £40,000 (and that's without adding any extra equipment), while the most basic and affordable E200 CDI SE costs £28,950

Even with the extra purchase cost, the rock-bottom emissions make it possible to write down the cost of the car for the life of its business usage. Diesel hybrids also dodge the 3% benefit-in-kind levy that is heaped on conventional diesel-engined models, so there's plenty of incentive to absorb the additional P11D cost from the corporate side of the fence.

At present, the E300 Hybrid has the perk of occupying a section of the business car market by itself. Yes, other diesel hybrids - namely the Peugeot 508 RXH and the Citroen DS5 Hybrid4 - are available, and they are cheaper and also cleaner, but the Merc remains

in a different class because of its badge appeal, which counts in this sector. BMW's Active Hybrid 5 runs it closest in terms of status, but even with a hybrid drivetrain, a 3.0-litre 306hp petrol engine will win over few business customers, leaving the Mercedes in an attractive league of its own.

Mercedes-Benz BlueTEC E300 Hybrid
P11D price£39,645
Model price range£29,125-£74,920
Fuel consumption65.7mpg
CO2 (tax) 109g/km (13%)
BIK 20/40% per month£86/£172 (estimated)
Service interval15,000 miles
Insurance (1-50)group 19
Warranty3yrs unlimited mls
Boot space540/N/A litres
Engine size/power2143cc 204hp (plus 27hp
electric motor)
Top speed/0-62mph150mph/7.5secs
On sale December 2012
Score8/10
VerdictAs conventional and
desirable as upper
medium hybrids come


Verdict


As conventional and desirable as upper medium hybrids come
8/10

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