Published on November 21st, 2017 | by Amirul Mukminin0
Mercedes-Benz E350e: We Drive the New Plug-in Hybrid Executive Sedan
There are a few good reasons why the plug-in hybrid trend in the luxury segment is really starting to catch on in Malaysia. Apart from the technological advancements and sheer power these cars offer, the tax incentive given by to the manufacturers by the government has helped to make these offerings somewhat more accessible to those already in the market.
One of the cars is the recently launched Mercedes-Benz E350e, which is locally built at the Mercedes-Benz Malaysia’s factory in Pekan, Pahang. Sitting at the top of the local E-Class lineup, the E350e is priced at RM392,888 for the Exclusive Line at RM395,888 for the sportier AMG Line. It certainly is not the cheapest plug-in hybrid vehicle out there but as the saying goes, “you get what you pay for”. In this case, you really do.
Let’s start off with the design. It will be difficult for the untrained eyes to separate the plug-in hybrid from other E-Class variants but if you look closely, the car has its own unique features such as the blue front brake callipers and “plug-in hybrid” badges on the front fenders in the same colour. The charging port under the right rear tail light is also a good reminder of this car’s drivetrain.
The cabin offers the same level of opulence with a luxurious leather upholstery, remarkable fit and finish and our favourite, the highly customizable ambient lighting. The driver will also be facing the same Widescreen Cockpit with two 12.3-inch displays, though the unit now shows the car’s battery and energy levels.
The E350e has a total system output of 286 hp and 550 Nm, seven more horsepower but curiously 50 Nm less than what the smaller C350e has. The output is courtesy of a 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo engine that works together with a nine-speed automatic transmission as well as an electric motor that is squeezed between the two. The latter gets its energy from a 6.2-kWh lithium-ion battery placed under the boot floor.
On paper, the sedan sprints from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.2 seconds and has the capability to run on electric power alone for 33 km. Driven in the best conditions, the car returns a fuel consumption of 2.1 litres per 100 km. The battery achieves full charge in three hours with a standard socket or half the time with a wallbox.
We managed to sample the E350e and what the car has to offer on a recent three-day/two-night drive organised by Mercedes-Benz Malaysia. The first day, which was a highway drive from Kuala Lumpur to Johor Bahru was to familiarize ourselves with the car, while a 480-km fuel economy challenge from JB to Tanjong Jara, Dungun on the next day was where the hybrid capability was put on test.
The challenge involved a mix of trunk road and highway driving. Vehicle speed was kept between 70 and 80 km/h in order to achieve the lowest possible fuel consumption and reach the destination within the given time. Even that, we only managed to achieve 5.8 litres per 100 km, which is no where near the claimed figure. The silver lining was that the almost 200 km of the challenge was completed on electric power alone, which was quite impressive. Every full charge translated into 23 to 25 km of electric driving.
Of course, these figures do not represent real world driving performance because nobody, certainly not E-Class owners, drives at that kind of speed on the highway. On the electric drive part, we had to switch between the four operating modes depending on the situation to get the most out of the car’s hybrid drivetrain. The Hybrid mode seemed like the best option in most circumstances during the drive, while the E-mode helped to conserve every drop of fuel in town or really slow traffic.
When we were not hypermiling, this car showed exactly how it is far from boring. The engine is punchy and responds rather quickly to the throttle input, while the nine-speed automatic transmission is as smooth as it can be, delivering power to the rear wheels efficiently with no sign of lethargy. The good thing is, the Sport and Sport+ modes are there should you decide to take everything up a few notches.
Apart from the plug-in hybrid drivetrain, the E350e has the upper hand over the other E-Class offerings thanks to the air suspension, which is fitted as standard. The inclusion of the component has not only given the sedan a more refined ride, but keeps the harshness from the 19-inch wheels to a minimum as well. This, together with the astounding atmosphere in the cabin, made the taxing fuel economy challenge all the more bearable.
Still, the German sedan has its flaws. The wind and tyre noise seem to seep into the cabin earlier than we would like and the rear legroom feels surprisingly narrow for a car of its size. The placement of the battery means the boot space has been reduced by 140 litres to 400 litres but that is something we feel most people can live with.
Looking at the big picture, the E350e possesses all the attributes you would expect from a range-topping E-Class and the adoption of the well-calibrated hybrid powertrain only elevates the experience. If you are in the market, the amount of standard equipment the car comes with makes the overall package even more sensible and the growing charging infrastructure promises feasibility in the future.
Mercedes-Benz E350e Specifications
Engine: inline four, turbocharged
Capacity: 2.0 litres
Power: 286 hp
Torque: 550 Nm
Transmissiom: 9-speed automatic
0-100km/h: 6.2 seconds
Top speed: 250 km/h