2007 Mercedes-Benz E320 Bluetec(Diesel) Review
SEE ALSO: Mercedes-Benz E320 Bluetec Specs and Comparisons
Road test: Mercedes E320 Bluetec
European Bureau Chief
It couldn’t have been more appropriate. I had an invitation to the film premiere of The Good German in Hollywood’s Egyptian Theatre. Starring Kate Blanchett. George Clooney and Tobey Maguire it was about events in Berlin just after the end of the Second World War. Directed by Steven Soderbergh it turned out to be a very special movie indeed. My steed for the trip to the movie-another Good German, in fact probably one of the best Germans I’ve ever had the pleasure of driving-the latest Mercedes diesel. In the morning it had already taken me to Universal Studios to drive the future-a zero emission car of the future courtesy of DaimlerChrysler.
According to the engineers led by Dr. Christian Mohrdieck we can expect hydrogen powered cars in showrooms in about 8-10 years time. In Berlin there is already a gas station with three pumps- gas, diesel and hydrogen.
In 20 or so years it will get even more exciting. Power, or at least some of the power will be generated from water, wind and solar energy. After various processes it will be transported in trucks, just like today, to the gas stations-ready for use in automobiles. The most fantastic thing about it all: no fumes, no pollution! I had a chance to drive the modified A class Mercedes on Universal Studios back lot passing saloons, old locomotives, cannons, Roman statues and all sorts of other props. As I said to the engineers when I got back-I jumped a Century!
All, all right, would say the skeptics, but was it fun? Well , I will not pretend that driving the latest Ferrari 599 wasn’t more fun but let us be reasonable-how much fun is it to drive to the nearest supermarket? Would it not be better for the children in the back seats to be healthier by not breathing in carbon dioxide? In any case, the prototype (and there are already faster ones) did 87 miles per hour and had a range of 100 miles. Enough for several days commute for most people.
What, I hear you ask has all this got to do with testing the 320 Bluetec diesel? A great deal actually. We’ve got to drive something for the next 10 or so years so Mercedes-as well as other car companies-have gone into overdrive to give us more miles per gallon for the buck. Right now there are two leading exponents-the Toyota Prius and the Mercedes. Two completely different philosophies yielding similar results. Recently I was able to test both the Prius and the Mercedes under identical conditions. The route-Belvedere, in Marin County, just North of San Francisco to Studio City, just outside Los Angeles. The distance: 388 miles. 101 to 508, 508 to I-5 , I-5 to 170 and we were there. The Prius wasn’t any slower than the Mercedes, in fact it averaged 80 miles per hour for three hours on I-5. The CHP are very sensible about letting the traffic flow at around that speed but they do, understandably catch those who insist on doing over 100 miles per hour. The Toyota’s fuel consumption worked out at 39.1 miles per gallon, the Mercedes at 31.2 but I did average 74 miles per hour for the entire trip including 25 miles per hour in Studio City and also in Tiburon. The 320 is also a considerably heavier car and much as my wife loves her Prius I would have the Mercedes every time. It is, without a shadow of a doubt the safest, cleanest and finest diesel car ever produced.
The difference between the diesel car of yesteryear and the Bluetec is nothing short of astonishing. No blue, acrid smoke, no horrible noises, no shaking chassis-chalk and cheese. In fact the only negative so far is the price of the low sulfur diesel recently introduced into the United States. Diesel #2 as it is known sells for approximately 3 dollars a gallon but the savings easily outweigh the cost.
Although I only got 31.2 miles per gallon cruising at over 80 miles per hour had I been doing the legal 65/70 it would have been easy to achieve over 35/36. Interestingly enough this is a lot nearer to what Mercedes claim than those truly silly Prius claims. There is no way anybody would ever get the advertised 60 miles per gallon unless they are running downhill with the engine switched off. While the Prius is a tribute to Toyota the misleading ads certainly are not!
How do Mercedes achieve over 30 miles per gallon ? The 3 liter V6 engine has enormous torque-400 lb/ft which exceeds most V8 powered cars. The engine utilizes state of the art diesel engine technology featuring common-rail direct injection so the consumption is 20-35 % lower than in a petrol engine and the torque is also a lot higher. 0-60 in 6.6 seconds is astonishing and came in very handy in LA’s pretty hectic traffic. I didn’t get a chance to verify the top speed but I can vouch for the 320 cruising at well over 100 miles per hour in almost total quiet. The good news is that the Bluetec engine will soon be available in smaller, less expensive Mercedes models as well. Right now you have to find over 50 thousand dollars to buy one of these gems. I use the word deliberately as right now I cannot think of an automobile I would rather have.
Problems? Drawbacks? Well, while the navigation system is not as appalling as in the 7 series BMW (nothing can be that frustrating) it does need the patience of a saint. On the plus side-once you figure it out it works just fine.