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How much? £39,645
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 2143cc 16v 4-cyl turbodiesel, 201bhp@ 4200rpm, 368lb ft @ 1600/1800rpm (plus 27bhp/184lb ft)
Transmission: Seven-speed auto, rear-wheel drive
Performance: 7.5sec 0-62mph, 150mph, 67mpg, 109g/km
How heavy / made of? 1845kg/steel
How big (length/width/height in mm)? 4868/1854/1471
Need to know

CAR's rating

Rated 4 out of 54

Handling

Rated 3 out of 53

Performance

Rated 4 out of 54

Usability

Rated 4 out of 54

Feelgood factor

Rated 4 out of 54

Readers' rating

Rated 3.5 out of 53.5

Mercedes E300 Hybrid (2013 CAR review)

By Ben Barry

First Drives

31 January 2013 09:00

As six-pot turbodiesels make way for four-cylinders, you’re increasingly unlikely to spy a 3 on the rump of any big German saloon. Hence you’re more likely to see 520d, E250 CDI and A6 2.0 TDI than 530d, E350 CDI and A6 3.0 TDI. But Mercedes is offering a way to get a 3 back on your bootlid while bettering the performance and emissions of those number 2s: it’s the E300 Hybrid, a car that pairs a 2143cc diesel four with a hybrid boost.

What are the Mercedes E300 Hybrid's vital stats?

So while the E250 CDI makes 201bhp, 368lb ft, returns 56.5mpg and emits 130g/km, the hybrid adds an extra 27bhp and 184lb ft – though at different peaks to the diesel’s, so don’t simply add the two together – plus returns 67mpg and emits 109g/km.

It’s have your cake and eat it stuff: the hybrid bit often works at low speed – so long as you get all bomb-disposal squad on the throttle – meaning silent progress rather than the harsh rattle of a four-pot TD; meanwhile, the lithium-ion boost means you’ll struggle to spot the reduced cylinder count when you go for a fast overtake. What’s more, the electric motor is packaged along with the auto ’box, and the batteries are packaged so as not to take up any boot space – though there is a 110kg penalty.

How does the E300 Hybrid drive?

It’s a very cleverly integrated system, with the transition between the two power sources being subtler than you might expect, especially given we’re working with the switch between silence and diesel here, where most hybrids slip between silence and petrol.

The tech gets to strut its stuff more often than you might expect too: back gently off the throttle at most speeds and the rpms fall to zero. Because of that, and because the E300 has ample performance, you don’t work it as hard as most four-cylinder TDs, which means that refinement is noticeably improved. Press ‘S’ and the hybrid gubbins/coasting mode nods off and the gear-change points become more aggressive, but it feels a perverse exercise.

What sort of economy figures does the Mercedes E300 achieve?

With two kids, two adults and a week’s worth of kit, I covered over 1500 miles in Europe at an average of 52mph and 40.4mpg – not bad considering much of our journey was spent at a 90mph autoroute cruise. Having to refuel only once every 500 miles or so was also a pleasant bonus.

But here’s the but: while the mechanical-spec might position the E300 alongside the E250 CDI, the £39,645 sticker means it’s more accurately an alternative to the £39,250 E350 CDI – 261bhp, 457lb ft, 47.1mpg, 156g/km – a car I’ve previously extracted an easy high-30s mpg from in slightly slower-paced UK motorway driving. It’s hard to see there being more than 5-10mpg between the two in non-urban driving – a worthwhile chunk, but not the 20mpg difference promised on paper.

Verdict

It boils down to this: do the mpg and CO2 savings work for you, perhaps on a company-car level? If they do and you like a comfort-focussed car, you should like the E300 Hybrid. But if you’re buying privately and your annual mileage isn’t too daft, the E350 CDI remains the better all-round E-class.

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Mercedes E300 Hybrid (2013 CAR review)

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antonyr

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antonyr says

RE: Mercedes E300 Hybrid (2013 CAR review)

 @comment8     I agree with you   electrical woe,s on German cars does seem to be big problem.  Mercedes had a major problem with breaks a few years ago which was down to electrics I believe.  I.d stick to Lexus GS  one the Hybrid front. They seem to have got this mode on engineering down to a fine art. Mind you Car does not even mention Lexus  as competitor to this E class Hyrid, which again shows That our car mags are in Cahoots with the German Manufactures  So Mr Ban Barry why no mention of Lexus  in your Review ?

01 February 2013 10:00

 

comment8

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comment8 says

RE: Mercedes E300 Hybrid (2013 CAR review)

The biggest advantage a hybrid over a conventional power train is in urban economy. Not something tested here. It offers very little advantage if your automotive life consist of munching the motorway miles. It would of course make eminent sense as an urban Taxi, still a very important market for the E class. A large number of hybrids (mostly Toyotas) are appearing in Taxi fleets in many of the world’s big cities. The problem comes when comparing Toyotas faultless hybrid reliability with this relatively untested offering. The premium European makers do seem to plagued by electrical woes at the moment.
 

01 February 2013 02:20

 

Fadyady

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Fadyady says

RE: Mercedes E300 Hybrid (2013 CAR review)

The car is fast. Its expensive. Its heavy. It will suit company car buyers. What really matters is that a major brand such as Mercedes has stepped into the brave new world of hybrid technology - that so far has been dominated by Toyota.

31 January 2013 21:51

 

dolomite

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dolomite says

RE: Mercedes E300 Hybrid (2013 CAR review)

 So (if the pics are anything to go by) this version still comes with squared-off lamps and ponton hips, does it?

31 January 2013 16:24

 

rojay

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rojay says

RE: Mercedes E300 Hybrid (2013 CAR review)

In agreement with Carmobster, this is purely aimed at business leasers.

Makes absouloutely no sense as a private car - you can get a vastly superior Beemer 5 Series with nearly as good emissions for thousands less, and it will hold it's value better too. Meaning that from a personal economy perspective, the Merc will actually cost you a lot more over time.

31 January 2013 11:13

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