The verdict is out

By Guilherme Marques

The E250 CDI is the biggest selling version of the new E-Class. But does this make any sense at all? We try to find out.

About six months ago I wrote about the new E-Class Mercedes with a new hybrid powertrain. Called the E300 Hybrid Bluetec, this first diesel-electric model coming out of Stuttgart is based on the E250 CDI, but costs a fraction less and needs less fuel to travel the same distance.

Why – asked I – would anyone buy an E250 CDI diesel and not the hybrid? Apparently, someone at Mercedes and many of you disagree with me, because not only do they keep on building the E250 CDI, it is their best-seller.

So I rang them up and asked if they would like to offer me a drive in the E250, and prove to me that this car was not out of place when there is a cheaper, more efficient hybrid version boasting the same performance figures. And now here I am, presenting some of my conclusions.

First of all, it has to be said, no matter which version you choose, the new E-Class is a very good car. For me, it has some of that Mercedesness you used to find in older cars, much like the one my grandfather left me, a W123 300D from 1981.

The 300D is said to be the most over-engineered car the Germans have ever built and, since this particular one shows 210,000km on the clock and not once has it broken down or gave the slightest indication of troubles ahead, I am inclined to agree.

On the open road the difference is smaller, closer to 0.5 litres. Performance is very similar as they both use the 2.2 litre 204 horse power engine and the extra power coming from the electric engine is largely offset by the additional 100kg of batteries.

Everything else is exactly the same – comfort is enormous, the ride is smooth and the overall feeling is that the economic crisis has flown by your world without landing.

The E Class is a very nice place to be and a very good car in which to cover ground. But my view regarding the E250 CDI has not changed after driving it. If you don’t think hybrids will break down after five minutes (they won’t) and want the most advanced, cheaper and more efficient car, the E300 Hybrid Bluetec is the one to go for.

If you are still a bit old fashioned (nothing wrong with that) and dislike the idea of more than one propulsion system in your Mercedes, than the E250 is a very good machine.

For me, it would be the E300 Hybrid Station. I think it looks better than the Sedan, the boot is absolutely huge and it will be easier to sell when the time comes. Let’s ring up Mercedes and drive that one, shall we?