The E Class holds a special place in Irish life. The executive four door was the de facto choice for senior management, and for politicians, there was no greater prize than being given a ‘Ministerial Merc’.
The E Class remains an imposing and coveted stepping stone on the corporate ladder. More recently as a car type the ‘four door sedan’ (aka ‘saloon’ in Ireland) has seen its thunder stolen by SUV variants. Despite the rise of SUVs there remains strong demand for the likes of the E and BMW’s 5 Series and the Audi A6 to name the most obvious alternatives. We’re testing the E Class in what we believe is its most interesting form this week.
The E300de is a diesel plug in hybrid (PHEV) and starts from €62,720. Unlike the E300e petrol PHEV the ‘de’ has the added range of a diesel. While both models have the ability to run in zero emissions mode for over 50kms its the de we think is better car for Ireland right now. Power comes from a two litre engine but the PHEV also has an electric motor that brings the car’s combined power output to a very respectable 306hp and 700nm! While this E is great when simply cruising – it can hustle along nicely too. The 0-100km sprint takes a brisk 5.9 seconds, and its top speed is autobahn friendly 237km/h. Now here’s the real key number; 1.4. Why 1.4? The 300de is quoted with an average fuel consumption figure of 1.4L/100km or 201mpg!! (The E 300e quotes 1.8L/100km). Now as with all PHEVs this is only achievable if the car is used as intended and charged up fully – but still this fuel figure and its impact on emissions has to be praised. CO2 emission is quoted at 38g/km (WLTP) (300e=41g). Our test car attracts annual Irish motor tax of just €140.
The electric motor is powered by a 13.5kWh rechargeable battery pack located behind the rear seats. The battery robs boot space but there remains enough for golf bats or a weekly shop and a few sports bags. The charge point is mounted on the driver’s side rear bumper behind a press and pop flap. The flap’s position means it can get a little dirty so have some wet wipes in the car. The de has a type 2 AC charging socket and comes with charging cables as standard. At a home 7kW charger it takes less than two hours to charge fully.
On the road the E class cruises with ease. In urban spaces the car is hushed and refined – especially when running in electric mode. At higher motorway speeds the premium cabin could be quieter as there is a noticeable amount of tyre and road noise. The 9 speed G-Tronic automatic gearbox delivers smooth progress and its steering column mounted gear selector is refreshingly simple to use. The car feels nimble and a far cry from the Ministerial Mercs of old that were far from dynamic.
The E Class range starts from €55,710 (€58,995 Estate). Our €70,839 E300de test car had the AMG Line Exterior pack so it really looked very smart. We had about eight grands worth of options like the €940 electric boot lid, night package (€918) and premium package (€4,483) with its LED multi beam headlights/360 degree parking camera and AR augmented reality navigation to name a few highlights. For a premium car the fact you have to pay extra to get smartphone integration (€667) is bad form. You can find Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in most cheap runabouts for free and car buyers today expect this connectivity almost as a ‘right’.
The Mercedes-Benz E300de is a very impressive machine that could only be improved with a quieter cabin for motorway cruising. We liked it a lot and in particular its zero emissions ability and when needed inter-city mile munching range. It looks great too, making a strong statement on the road or in the company carpark – remember them!