The Mercedes-Benz E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid is one of the most efficient, environmentally friendly luxury motors around - and it's quick too. Tim Barnes-Clay puts it to the test.
There was a time when "green" cars were slow and had all the appeal of a bowl of watery cabbage soup. That was then, this is now.
You see, the Mercedes-Benz E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid is not only one of the most efficient, environmentally friendly luxury motors around - it's among the quickest.
But it isn't cheap. The saloon starts at £39,670 and the estate (pictured above), which I took for a road test, starts at £41,435.
And this is before you add any options.
But the Benefit In Kind (BIK) tax band is only 12 per cent for the saloon and 14 per cent for the estate, making it a relatively easy-on-the-pocket company car.
Easy-on-the-pocket company car
I won't bore you with the complexities of BIK, but essentially, if you have the use of a company car for your private trips then you'll be taxed on this benefit.
How much tax you pay depends on the value of the car, its CO2 emissions (the lower these two figures, the less it will cost you) and whether it has a petrol or diesel engine.
So you can see why a hybrid like the E 300 Estate emitting only 119g/km of CO2, and the saloon pumping out even less at 111g/km, might start to seem like a good option - even though the estate looks like a hearse.
Sorry, that's unfair, I only say this because my demo car came in black with tinted windows at the rear - and large, posh, black estate cars do look rather funereal.
Anyway, what do you get for your cash before the obligatory options list is thrust upon you?
Mercedes-Benz E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid: Spec
Well, standard equipment includes a seven-speed automatic gearbox, 17-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, a navigation system and LED daytime running lights.
But, more importantly, the Mercedes-Benz BlueTEC Hybrid delivers a remarkable driving experience with or without extras added.
The Mercedes brings together a potent, yet highly efficient, 2,143cc, four-cylinder diesel engine that delivers 201bhp and spoonfuls of torque - 368 lb/ft to be precise.
To you and me, that means the Benz pulls so well that your eyeballs will feel like they're being sucked into the back of your skull.
The result is the ability to soar from 0-62 mph in just 7.8 seconds before topping out at 144 mph on the Estate, and 7.5 seconds and 150mph for the saloon.
As well as all that shove, you get up to 62.8mpg on an average journey in the Estate, and 65.7mpg in the saloon. The tank just seems to sip at the juice.
Come to think of it, when you first set off it doesn't even need a drink at all.
This is because the E 300's oil-burner works in harmony with an electric motor and a large battery pack.
With its hybrid system, the car runs on stored electric power for short-distance city driving.
This means it can be as quiet as the average graveyard, and emission-free.
And when you've had enough of being all tree-hugging and fluffy around town, the strong engine kicks in to give you effortless, unblemished, power for hundreds of motorway miles - and in supreme comfort.
The electric motor will also join forces with the diesel to give further thrust when needed, and the battery pack will recharge as you drive.
Boot big enough for bikes
Being of hearse-like appearance it'll come as no surprise that the E 300 Estate is big enough to carry a coffin – probably.
In other words, the car's load area is colossal. It's also low, meaning you can pack up the Estate without giving your middle-aged back any more strain than it needs.
To be frank, it's very hard to fault the Mercedes-Benz E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid. Just don't get the estate in black.
Mercedes-Benz E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid Estate: Pros & cons
- Efficient √
- Powerful √
- Comfortable √
- Space √
- Hearse-like looks X
Mercedes-Benz E 300 BlueTEC Hybrid Estate: Fast facts
- Max speed: 144 mph
- 0-62 mph: 7.8 secs
- Combined mpg: 62.8
- Engine: 2143 cc 16 valve 4 cylinder turbo diesel + electric motor
- Max. power (bhp): 201 at 4200 rpm
- Max. torque (lb/ft): 368 at 1600-1800 rpm
- CO2: 119 g/km
- Price: £41,435 on the road