The move has been announced as Mercedes-Benz reacts to the demand for more four-cylinder cars. The E300 diesel-electric hybrid is expected to account for a relatively small 100 cars a year but it’s a vehicle Mercedes had to have, according to company spokesman David McCarthy.
“We’ve wanted a hybrid for a long time … customers have told us they want it, now they have to step up to the plate,” he says. McCarthy acknowledges that even large prestige vehicles have been hit by engine downsizing and expects the E300 to satisfy customer demands for frugal economy without affecting performance.
“It’s a really challenging market because people aren’t buying this size of car at any price point,” he notes. “They want fuel economy and low emissions but also expect a Mercedes vehicle to perform, so there’s definitely a market for a hybrid like this.”
McCarthy adds the E wagon has a loyal customer base that means the company won’t cull it in favour of the CLS Shooting Brake, which is based on the E-Class platform. That is likely to extend to the AMG E63 Estate, despite Benz selling just four in Australia last year.
“The E63 wagon may keep going - there’s no crossover between E Estate buyers and CLS owners,” he says. “As far as the (E63) sedan goes, it is our third most popular AMG vehicle, behind the C-Class and ML.”
The E-Class range will start with the E200 petrol but the E250 diesel and petrol models will continue to be the volume sellers.”
McCarthy says prices and spec are still being finalised ahead of the car’s international launch next month but he predicts little change in cost despite a lift in standard features.