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Lean muscle coming for Mercedes E-class

German muscle: The revised Mercedes-Benz E-class line-up will be headlined by the thumping twin-turbo E500.

New twin-turbo 4.6-litre V8 for E500 headlines Mercedes E-class powertrain overhaul

5 May 2011

UPDATED: 6/05/2010MERCEDES-BENZ is set to introduce higher performing and more economical variants across its E-class luxury car range, headlined by the first application of its thumping new 300kW 4.6-litre twin-turbocharged petrol V8 for the E500.

Major improvements have also been wrought on the 3.5-litre V6-powered E350, while detail changes apply to four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines powering the W212 E-class series that was launched in Australia two years ago.

Mercedes-Benz Australia Pacific has confirmed to GoAuto that the new V8 will arrive in the E-class coupe, cabriolet, sedan and wagon ranges in September, just ahead of the flagship 2012 E-class AMG sedan and wagon unveiled in New York last month and due Down Under in the final quarter.

The heavily revised V6 will be installed in the coupe/cabriolet from June, with the sedan/estate following in September. Similar timing is expected for the four-cylinder upgrades.

Mercedes-Benz claims both the new E500 and E350 sedans can realise mileage improvements of up to 20 per cent with a host of modifications performed under the BlueEfficiency banner, including direct fuel injection (dubbed BlueDirect), an engine idle-stop system and a 7G-Tronic ‘Plus’ automatic transmission that features a new torque converter, an ‘Eco’ shift program (with revised ratio spread) and an auxiliary oil pump.

4 center imageLeft: Mercedes-Benz E350 exterior and interior. Below: Mercedes-Benz E500.

The new V8 and V6 engines also benefit from aluminium crankcases, pistons and cylinder heads, while their lightweight design “and intensive finetuning of details” has, according to Mercedes, brought a 28 per cent reduction in engine friction.

Just as the E63 AMGs will substitute a 6.2-litre naturally aspirated V8 with a smaller 5.5-litre bi-turbo bent-eight, the E500 will be the first of a large number of Mercedes-Benz models to switch from the current 5.5-litre (5461cc) atmo V8 to the new 4633cc twin-turbo – an engine that looks to have lost nothing in performance terms, but has made substantial gains on the environmental front.

Initial details released in Europe overnight show the E500 V8’s maximum power rises 15kW to 300kW, with torque climbing 70Nm to 530Nm, now from 2800-4800rpm.

While the current ($183,685) 5.5 E500 sedan returns 11.0L/100km economy and 258g/km of CO2 when tested to the Australian ADR 81/02 standard, the new 4.6 Blue reduces that substantially – to 8.9L/100km and 209g/km, according to provisional NEDC figures which are enough for Mercedes to claim best-in-class results.

These figures are accompanied by performance claims that see the E500 BlueEfficiency accelerating from 0-100km/h in 5.2 seconds – the same as the current natural-breathing 5.5 – on its way to a higher maximum speed of 250km/h, up from 210km/h.

In the case of the E350 sedan, the 3.5-litre V6 engine’s power increases to 225kW – up 25kW on the non-Blue Australian-spec model – and torque climbs 20Nm to 270Nm (now from 3500 to 5250rpm), while combined-cycle fuel consumption based on confirmed NEDC figures fall to between 6.8 and 7.0L/100km.

Given the current E350 sold in Australia returns 9.4L/100km when tested to the ADR 81/02 standard, the revised model will qualify for a luxury car tax exemption if it falls below 7.0L/100km, handing Mercedes-Benz the means to reduce its starting price from the current $132,635.

CO2 emissions likewise fall from 219g/km on the current E350 sedan sold here to between 159-164g/km, based on provisional NEDC figures.

Mercedes-Benz claims the new E350 BlueEfficiency continues to accelerate from 0-100km/h in 6.3 seconds and, like the new E500, need not let up until it reaches 250km/h.

In another luxury tax bonus, the current entry-level petrol model in the Australian E-class sedan range, the $95,300 E250 CGI BlueEfficiency model which uses a 150kW/310Nm 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol engine, also picks up the economy-enhancing 7G-Tronic Plus (in lieu of the current five-speed auto).

As a result, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions fall by around 13 per cent – down from 7.6L/100km and 179g/km (ADR) to 6.6-7.0L/100km and 154-162g/km (NEDC).

The E-class powertrain overhaul also brings idle-stop, 7G-Tronic Plus and detail changes (revised oil pressure control and belt drive and a self-regulating compressor for the turbo) to the four-cylinder diesel engines used in the E220 CDI and E250 CDI, both of which are already BlueEfficiency models in Australia, priced from $83,300 (Elegance trim) and $98,400 (Avantgarde) respectively and using a five-speed automatic.

NEDC figures place both 2.2-litre (2143cc) turbo-diesel engines – which remain at 125kW/400Nm for the E220 CDI and 150kW/500Nm for the E250 CDI – at 4.9-5.3L/100km and 129-138g/km, which improves upon the current 5.9L/100km and 157g/km on the Australian-spec models.

The 100kW/360Nm E200 CDI diesel not sold in Australia has come in for similar improvements, while the 170kW/540Nm 3.0-litre V6 E350 CDI with 7G-Tronic remains unchanged (6.9L/100km, 182g/km).

Mercedes-Benz Cars research and development chief Thomas Weber said the new direct-injection V6 and V8 petrol engines set “previously unattained standards in the luxury class”.

“With the new V6 engine in the E350 BlueEfficiency, we are able to realise fuel consumption figures previously only possible for four-cylinder units,” Dr Weber claimed.

“To remain at the very peak in the automotive executive class, however, Mercedes-Benz is not restricting itself to the introduction of highly efficient engines, but also using every conceivable means of saving fuel – from aerodynamics to lightweight construction, and from optimised transmissions right up to the electrification of the powertrain and peripheral units.”

Other than new engine and powertrain features, the upgraded E-class brings minor detail changes.

Inside, for example, there is a full-colour TFT display in the instrument cluster, which is also capable of showing three-dimensional graphics, while a ‘Direct-Select’ gearchange lever for 7G-Tronic Plus on the steering column is now fitted across the range.

The Elegance trim level also now includes luxury front head restraints with adjustable side bolsters.

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