The Mercedes-Benz E 350 e is the first car from the three-pointed star that can run entirely on battery power for extended periods.
Not that you can tell. Mercedes has wisely chosen to go the stealth-EV route, with the only outright clues being the ‘EQ Power’ badge on the fenders, and the extra ‘e’ in the nameplate.
That’s probably a good thing, because a big Mercedes is a good thing to have if you’re keeping up with the Tans.
Because of associations with prosperity, towkays, and conservative tastes, we imagine an E-Class driver would be horrified to be caught driving a Toyota Prius by the neighbours.
Actually, Mercedes has sold hybrids in Singapore before: A handful of diesel-electric E 300 BlueTec hybrids from the previous W212 E-Class in 2014, while the current W222 S-Class made its debut in S 400 hybrid form.
But with a 6.7kWh lithium ion battery taking up 140-litres of boot spacing (reducing it to a still-usable 400-litres) and powering the 88hp motor generator, the E 350 e can travel a quoted 33km without switching on its 2.0-litre turbo engine at all.
In Singapore’s heat, it’s probably closer to the mid-20s, but even that’s enough to boost your fuel economy massively – we let the car do its thing, and after a 60km commute, fuel efficiency was an impressive 2.0L/100km.
You can select various modes of operation, Hybrid (operates as a conventional petrol-electric hybrid), E-Mode (prioritises battery usage), E-Save (holds the battery charge) and Charge, which juices up the battery at the cost of increased fuel consumption.
But if you’re the sort who abhors button tickling and programming, you can leave it alone and let the car just do its thing automatically.
Of course the maximum zero-emissions benefit comes it you have a place to charge it every night. In that case, if your daily commute is short enough, you almost need never visit a petrol station again.
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) says the average Singaporean driver covers 45km a day, so the e-range alone isn’t enough to do the whole distance.
The good news is that even as a conventional hybrid, the E 350 e fares quite well. After emptying the battery to 10 percent, we did a further 150km of driving (70/30 highway/urban) and the E 350 e delivered mid-7.0L/100km.
Bad for a hybrid, but very impressive for a big, German luxo sedan, so even if you never use it as a plug-in, the E 350 e still performs more efficiently than the E 300, if that’s high on your list of priorities.
The other plus point is that the hybrid system can also be deployed to give more power, rather than just aiming to squeeze all the miles it can out of each drop. The 88hp motor generator pairs with the 211hp engine to deliver 286hp with a meaty 550Nm of torque.
Slap (ok, toggle) the car into Sport+ mode and launch it off the line, it elicits a hilarious ‘REEEEK’ from the rear tyres and punches forward with pleasing alacrity. It’s only 0.1 seconds faster than the regular E 300, but feels much more punchy on the low end thanks to the electric motor’s torque assist.
The Big E is a known quantity and it’s not a sport sedan, though the E 350 e can do a decent impression of one, thanks to the adaptive air suspension and punchy hybrid performance.
Naturally it also excels at the smooth, silent stuff too, and as is often the case with hybrids, electric operation means more refinement, although the kick-in of the engine is noticeable so it’s not quite near an S-Class just yet.
As an upper-crust E-Class variant though, the E 350 e packs almost all the equipment you can think of, from the dual 12.3-inch screens, adaptive cruise and steering assist, Burmester sound system…the list goes on and on.
What it lacks, compared to some EVs and PHEVs, is a wallbox in the purchase price.
Mercedes has done things a bit differently, by including an EMA-approved charging cable which does 20 to 100 percent in 3.5 hours.
That’s actually a first for vehicle charging here, as most EVs go for the standard wallbox.
That offers faster charging but may cost more to prepare (some require three-phase power) whereas the cable only needs an M-type socket, and is portable.
These are used by high-load home appliances such as washing machines and air-conditioners, and safely provide current above 15A (normal sockets can’t which is possibly why e-bike owners burn their houses down).
It’s probably not too far a stretch to imagine that an E-Class owner has a driveway, or at least a private lot to charge the car with.
Even if someone absolutely hates the idea of ‘uneeded’ complexity, the E 350 e offers lots of benefits without major drawbacks.
It’s perhaps a little less agile than a E 300, but that’s about it, and it’s a mere $8,000 more than the E 300 AMG Line – think of it as a mere 2.7 percent tax for early adoption.
You may as well get on the electric train now, and with the E 350 e you can be one of the first to peek over the fence and tell the neighbours you never visit the petrol station, and that this Mercedes helps even them to breathe easy.
Mercedes-Benz E 350 e
|Engine||1,991cc, inline 4, turbocharged|
|Power||211hp at 5500rpm|
|Torque||350Nm at 1200-4400rpm|
|Electric Motor||88hp / 440Nm|
|Battery Type / Capacity||Lithium ion / 6.2kWh|
|Charging Time / Type||3.5 hours / Charging cable|
|System Power / Torque||286hp / 550Nm|
|VES/CO2||A2 / 113g/km|
|Price||$305,888 with COE|
|Agent||Mercedes-Benz Centre Singapore|