Mercedes-Benz has just started selling its 2013 E400H hybrid sedan in North America, adding to its slowly growing electrified stable.
The company will have a diesel plug-in E-class for the Europeans who better appreciate such innovations, but in the U.S. the regular gas hybrid is the most environmentally friendly E-class.
It makes use of a powertrain derived from the $92,350 E-Class hybrid, bringing the barrier to entry down to $55,800 for a hybrid adorned with the silver star atop its grille.
Also a plus, this one uses a more capable electric motor – sandwiched as is the case with the S400HV – between the gas engine and seven-speed transmission actuated by steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters.
Note also here is another hybrid eschewing a continuously variable transmission (CVT) as made popular on Toyota’s formula for more gas-efficient Hybrid Synergy Drive variants.
The E-hybrid’s gas engine is a 302-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 utilizing direct injection. The motor is a 27-horsepower unit and allows the car to travel up to a modest 22 mph for up to half a mile on electric power, assuming a light touch on the accelerator.
Naturally, the system uses stop/start technology and regenerative braking, and also adopts a lithium-ion battery pack – still relatively rare among hybrids which more often use nickel-metal hydride chemistry, and first pioneered on the 2010 S400HV.
Trunk space is retained because the diminutive battery is housed under the hood.
We hope to have a full review after May when Mercedes says it will have cars to evaluate.
In the mean time, we’ll surmise as is usually the case, the E400H is a worthy member of the E-Class in fit, finish, equipment, and in the way it performs.
The company has been more a fan of diesels for decades, but in America, hybridization is all the rage, at least with more people here than elsewhere.
Being a high-line company with a reputation to uphold, Mercedes-Benz – as is the case for Audi, BMW, and Porsche – has been dipping its toes in the hybrid waters, but not watering down the formula overly much just to maximize economy.
Of course this car could get by with much less power, but then it would not meet the design criteria for an E-Class.
For the power it offers, its economy is respectable. We would expect also a heavy footed driver could plummet the advertised numbers, but then that is always the case hybrid buyers must understand when contemplating fuel economy claims.
On the flip side, it may be possible to exceed EPA estimates a tad with careful, slow driving.
In all, the new E400H is a more cost-effective hybrid from one of the world’s premier automakers, and looks like a step in the right direction.
For more information, please consult Mercedes-Benz’ Web site.