DETROIT – I was confused. I had a 2009 Mercedes-Benz E320 BlueTec sedan sitting in the driveway. That’s simple enough. But BlueTec is Mercedes’ technology that cleans diesel engine emissions well enough that the vehicles are sellable in all 50 states; that’s what I thought. Yet the technical information on my test car said it was not certifiable in 11 states.
When in doubt, and when possible, go to the source. So I called Mercedes-Benz and asked ‘em what’s up. Here’s the deal. Indeed, the second generation of BlueTec is saleable in all 50 states. But right now, the second generation BlueTec technology is available only in Mercedes- Benz SUVs: the GL, the ML and R-class. It will not be available on the E- Class sedan until the new model comes out in the fall.
However, the first generation BlueTec diesel engine on the current E-Class has emissions that are clean enough that it can be leased in what’s called the CARB states including California and sold or leased in the rest of the other states. I guess the bottom line is when purchasing a Mercedes-Benz diesel powered vehicle be sure of which BlueTec powerplant you’re driving. Just so you know.
But no matter whether it’s a clean or really clean BlueTec engine, the Mercedes-Benz diesel powered E-Class was something special. The bottom line is that I still had a couple of days left with my test vehicle so I couldn’t give final numbers. But I had driven the car 180 miles and I‘d yet to burn half a tank gas.
And let me be clear, except for a few stints which lasted no more than 10 minutes on the local expressways here, those miles were accumulated in stop and go city driving. The car had an EPA rating of 23 mpg in the city and a 32 mpg on the hwy.
But what the dry numbers didn’t tell was that the E320 BlueTec was actually fun to drive. The fun came from the torque that the engine made not the horsepower. The 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 generated a respectable 210 horsepower but a very muscular 400 pound-feet of torque at 1,600 rpm.
Mated to a seven speed automatic transmission, the Mercedes-Benz E320 BlueTec had a 0-to 60 mph time of 6.6 seconds. That’s fast. I had the transmission set on sport which gave the sedan the geared down feeling of a manual transmission. In other words, when I let up off the gas pedal the E320 BlueTec slowed down dramatically as the automatic gear box downshifted.
My only complaint was that as Mercedes upgraded the equipment of the E-Class I guess the electrical architecture made it impossible to upgrade the controls. While the car had the same readouts as the S-Class it did not have a control dialer on the center console as the S-Class and the new C-Class do. Thus, the selector on the face of the dashboard was cumbersome.
The car had a complete set of audio options including satellite radio, a six disc in dash CD/ DVD player, a SD Memory Card Reader and Bluetooth. On a Benz with Bluetooth you need to know what model phone you have because that model number serves as the pass code for Bluetooth.
The E320 BlueTec was chock full of stuff: a tilt telescoping steering wheel, moonroof and heated front seats that were 10-way adjustable and it had burl walnut trim.
This is the second Mercedes-Benz I’ve tested that had a really reasonable premium on the diesel powered version of the model. In the case of the E320 BlueTec, it was $1,000 more than the gasoline powered six cylinder E-Class. Add on the optional wood steering wheel, Premium 1 package and freight charge and my test vehicle totaled $58,345.