Mercedes E300 Hybrid 1

Mercedes-Benz Malaysia has officially introduced the locally-assembled W212 Mercedes-Benz E300 BlueTEC Hybrid – the car, the first diesel hybrid to be commercially available in the country (and the company’s second CKD hybrid, after the S 400 L Hybrid), was actually previewed to the motoring press in December last year, but pricing had at that point not been finalised.

It has now – the RM348,888 price tag isn’t very far away from that initially suggested by an ad that popped up last August on our sister site oto.my. Upon first glance, the pricing may not jump out in a big way, but it is significant upon comparison.

Thanks to excise duty exemptions for CKD hybrids (in place until Dec 31 this year), the locally-assembled E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid is actually cheaper than the previous baseline E-Class facelift model, the RM367k E 200, undercutting the latter by RM18k. The hybrid’s introduction effectively makes it the most affordable E variant in Malaysia.

It may be the cheapest, but it’s very well specified – in fact, it has pretty much the same kit as the CKD E 400, which was introduced last November. The E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid gets the AMG Sports package (AMG bodykit, velour floor mat, twin exhaust system with bumper-integrated rectangular stainless steel pipe ends) as well as the same 18-inch twin five-spoke alloys seen on the latter.

The Malaysian car also comes equipped with LED headlights and Intelligent Headlight Control Plus. Other equipment from the E 400 includes the rear seat entertainment system – which features two display monitors integrated into the front seat headrests – and surround view camera. Like the E 400, the E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid is available with a number of interior colour schemes.

The E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid is powered by a 2.1 litre turbodiesel and electric motor combination – the OM651 DE 22 LA four-cylinder unit is good for 201 hp at 4,200 rpm and 500 Nm from 1,600 to 1,800 rpm, while the three-phase AC internal rotor magneto electric motor (which is installed in the clutch housing between the engine and the transmission to save space) offers 20 kW (27 hp) at 1,800 rpm and 250 Nm at an operating voltage of 120 volts.

Power is put to the wheels by a 7G-Tronic transmission, and performance figures include a 0-100 km/h time of 7.1 seconds and a 242 km/h top speed, while fuel consumption is rated at 4.1 litres/100 km. The frugality of the car was exemplified by the fuel economy challenge it undertook last year, in which Brit motoring journo Andrew Frankel managed to drive 1,968 km from Africa to the UK on a single tank of diesel.

Speaking of the lithium-ion battery, the compact unit has an energy content of 0.8 kWh and an output of 19 kW – on a full charge, the car can cover about a kilometre on electric power alone, at speeds of up to 35 km/h. It not only stores energy for the electric motor, but is also connected to the 12-volt vehicle electrical system via the DC transformer to supply power to items such as the headlamps and comfort features.

Because of its size, it’s able to be placed within the engine bay, right behind the front left suspension turret. It’s always located on the passenger side, so in left-hand drive E 300 BlueTEC Hybrids it’ll sit behind the front right suspension mount turret (and the other way round for RHD).

The system consists of the cell block with its lithium-ion cells and the cell monitoring system, the battery management function, high-strength housing, cooling gel, cooling plate, coolant feed and the high-voltage connector. The unit is cooled by refrigerant similiar to that of the air-conditioning system, but runs off a separate circuit from the car’s AC.

An electrically-driven air-con compressor means that in stop-start traffic, the vehicle can also manage on battery, and it isn’t until the battery levels run down to around 36% that the engine restarts.

The E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid doesn’t come with a spare tyre, and a regular 12-volt battery is located beneath the luggage compartment to support cold starting and act as a buffer store for the on-board electrical system, and there’s an additional small backup battery to prevent unpleasant flickering of the vehicle lighting and dropouts in the infotainment system in start/stop mode.

Mercedes E300 Hybrid 6

Also, the Malaysian E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid is unique, in that it runs a specially-adapted Euro 2M engine, with changes related to the emissions system (the particulate filter has been removed, and a water separator added). Mercedes-Benz Malaysia added during the presentation that no other markets that sell the car have this configuration, making it specific to Malaysia – the homologation papers even reflect this, and the company says that it’s impressive that Daimler AG has done this for our market.

The unit can of course run Euro 5-grade diesel, which is currently available in Johor – MBM says that the diesel mill is up to the task of running Euro 2M, having conducted field evaluations here over the last five years with random fuel sampling as well with a fleet of locally-assembled W204 C 220 CDIs, which ran durability trials over a cumulative 400,000 km without a hitch.

From an E-Class buyer’s perspective, the E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid is certainly a lot of car for the money – kit-wise, you’re getting most of what’s on the E 400, and you fork out less than that needed for an E 200. Not quite the level of that achieved by the insanely-priced S 400 L Hybrid (and Audi A6 Hybrid), but the proposition is no less compelling.

For a more detailed look at the new model’s specifications, refer to CarBase.my, where you can compare the E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid against the rest of the W212 model range. Or better yet, see how it fares next to the similarly-priced BMW 520d to see what a real bargain this is.