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Detroit show: Mercedes flies E-class hybrid duo

Best of both: Mercedes-Benz will offer both diesel and petrol-based hybrid drivetrains for its hybrid E-class.

Benz investigating case for twin E-class diesel and petrol hybrids in Australia

Mercedes-Benz logo23 Dec 2011

MERCEDES-BENZ will have a bet each way with its hybrid E-class that debuts at the Detroit motor show next month, offering hybrid powertrains with both four-cylinder diesel and petrol V6 assistance.

Due to go on sale overseas next year with the petrol hybrid aimed primarily at North America and the diesel hybrid targeting Europe, the hybrid versions of Mercedes’ mid-sized luxury sedan remain up in the air for Australia until price and other factors can be determined.

Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific corporate communications manager Jerry Stamoulis told GoAuto the company was investigating the case for importing the models, but said it was awaiting further details and confirmation of right-hand drive availability.

However, the official press release mentions the car will be produced in right-hand drive for Japan.

Mercedes says the diesel-based E300 BlueTec Hybrid will be aimed at Europe and the petrol-electric E400 Hybrid will initially target the US, with Japan and China getting the car later.

Mr Stamoulis would not speculate on which variant would most likely be offered in Australia should a decision be made to import a hybrid, but said a major factor would be price, especially due to slow growth of the executive sedan segment in Australia.

While that may be true, the hybrid E-class would act as the perfect foil for performance-oriented rivals due to arrive in Australia next year, comprising the Lexus GS450h and BMW ActiveHybrid5, plus the Audi A6 hybrid due in 2013.

“We would have to work out what the uptake would be and what price it would come in at,” said Mr Stamoulis.

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“To introduce a new model for the sake of new technology that might not sell for a particular price is a big challenge, so until we get all the details it is hard to say anything.

“(It depends) if the price is good enough to compete with what we are currently doing, but that segment of the market is not exactly growing so there are a lot of factors.”

As would be expected, the E300 BlueTec Hybrid is the efficiency leader, claimed to consume 4.2 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres and emit 109 grams of CO2 per kilometre.

That represents a 17.6 per reduction in fuel consumption and a 22.7 per cent CO2 saving over the already frugal E250 CDI, which has an official Australian combined figure of 5.1L/100km and CO2 emissions of 141g/km.

The hybrid drive system also boosts total power and torque output of the four-cylinder drivetrain to a similar level as the 170kW/540Nm diesel V6 of the E300 CDI.

The petrol-electric E400 Hybrid, which as the name suggests borrows much of its drivetrain from the larger S400 Hybrid, employs a V6 engine aided by the same 20kW/250Nm electric motor as the diesel, to return a claimed combined figure of 8.7L/100km.

Both versions feature idle-stop, regenerative braking, electric-only operation and ‘sailing’ function that can cut the engine when coasting, as featured on the Porsche Cayenne hybrid.

The hybrid member of BMW’s latest 5 Series sedan range adds a 40kW/210Nm electric motor to the 225kW/400Nm 3.0-litre turbocharged petrol six to deliver a combined output of 250kW/450Nm.

By comparison, the GS450h runs a 3.5-litre naturally-aspirated V6 to provide a combined output of 252kW/345Nm and matches the BMW’s 0-100km/h sprint time but betters its efficiency by 1.0L/100km (6.3L/100km) and 3g/km (146g/km).

In the Audi A6 hybrid, petrol power provides 155kW and 350Nm while the electric motor develops an additional 40kW and 210Nm to feed a combined 188kW and 480Nm to the front wheels.

The A6 hybrid will hit 100km/h in 7.3 seconds, deliver fuel consumption of 6.2L/100km and emit 142g/km of CO2.

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