Monthly Archives: August 2013

Mercedes E300 BlueTEC Hybrid


Mercedes-Benz has introduced its first diesel hybrid.The E300 BlueTEC Hybrid is a practical step towards reaching the firm’s stated aim of emission-free driving. We drove the pre-facelift model (pictured) to get a sense of MB’s latest technology.


The German luxury brand’s diesel hybrid system is very interesting as it is relatively compact, managing to contain itself to the engine bay and not the boot! Most hybrids feature a large battery pack that is either mounted behind or under the rear seats, or is in the space you’d expect to find the spare wheel, which obviously compromises boot space. Not so in the Merc. MB has managed to place the electric motor in the gearbox casing, with the Lithium-Ion battery pack not far from there also. This deserves a round of applause.


E300 BlueTEC power is delivered to the rear wheels via a combination of a four-cylinder, 2.2-litre diesel engine (2,143cc) and an electric motor. Mercedes-Benz quotes engine performance figures of 204hp and 500nm of torque. The electric motor delivers a further 27hp and 250nm of torque. With hybrids, you don’t simply add the two sets of performance figures of the engine and motor together to get the car’s overall power figure, but rather take a bit off the total due to what’s best called, hybrid black magic!


Top speed is 242km/h and 0-100km/h takes just 7.8 seconds through the specially designed, seven-speed ‘G-tronic Plus’ automatic gearbox. The automatic gearbox uses a wet clutch and not a torque converter, as you might think. The wet clutch enables the engine to be disengaged fully, allowing the electric motor to power the car on its own. Eco Stop/Start is standard.


The E300 BlueTEC Hybrid clearly has respectable performance, but the big saving comes with fuel consumption. MB quotes consumption at 4.3 litres on the combined cycle; in fact, that figure is the same for the urban and extra-urban cycles! Emissions are very low for the five-seat saloon at just 111g/km of CO2 when fitted with 17-inch alloys – this means annual road tax is just €200! Standard kit includes leather seats (heated up front), multi-function leather steering wheel and USB and Bluetooth connectivity, to name a few.


On the road the car is set up for comfort and this is fine, but the soft suspension is quite noticeable when cornering or driving with gusto as the car pitches and turn-in can be a little snappy. E300 BlueTEC Hybrid is a weighty machine at 1,845kg. In no way is the handling alarming, but it is quirky. The regenerative brakes can bite quite hard too, especially when you are almost stationary. Like the car’s cornering, the left pedal takes a bit of getting used to.
At worst, the slight jolt experienced when stopping might wake a sleeping front seat passenger.


The hybrid power unit can run the E Class Merc on its own at speeds of up to 160km/h whencharged – when the car is not under too much load. MB calls this function ‘Sailing’. The driver has no buttons to press to select EV mode and there are relatively few fuel-saving gimmicks, displays or gauges.


Prices start at €56,325: our test car cost €57,930 thanks to the addition of Iridium Silver Metallic paint at €1,605.


Driving the E300 BlueTEC Hybrid, and most Mercs, you’ll be content to sit back and simply go with the flow.


Source: Michael Sheridan



Greener Focus


Ford has announced a new version of the Focus 1.0-litre EcoBoost that will be the first petrol-powered family car in Europe to offer 99g/km CO2 emissions.


Ford says the Focus 1.0-litre EcoBoost will achieve class-leading fuel efficiency of 4.3 l/100km (67.5 mpg). Equipped with a specially calibrated 100hp version of Ford’s award-winning engine, the new Focus 1.0-litre EcoBoost also will feature Ford ECOnetic Technology. The car features ultra-low rolling resistance tyres, unique under-car aerodynamics and revised gearing to help deliver the company’s most fuel-efficient ever petrol-powered family car.


“Even just a couple of years ago, few people would have thought it possible that a medium-sized petrol car could break the 100g/km CO2 barrier,” said Barb Samardzich Vice President Product Development, Ford of Europe. “The 1.0-litre EcoBoost engine has a habit of taking expectations of what a petrol engine can deliver and turning them upside down.”


Ford says it will go on sale early next year and in Ireland will be in motor tax band ‘A2’, which attracts a rate of €180 for annual road tax.





The Low Emission Mazda CX-5


Has Mazda’s new SUV the lowest running costs in the segment? Meet the SUV that’s the cheapest of them all to run, the Mazda CX-5 – well according to Mazda.


A bold statement indeed and the very mantra that greets every billboard sporting pictures of this fine looking car, but is this just more marketing spin from our tangerine friends? Well, we’re gonna find out. The plan is to knock 1,000kms onto the clock and see how much juice we’d have to put in to get us there?  


Now, looking at the vehicle stats, one has to admit that on paper they are very impressive – boasting emissions of just 119g/km (annual road tax of just €200) and returning over 60mpg (4.6L/100kms). Such frugal figures made all the more astounding when one discovers that this carriage is powered by a gargantuan 2.2 litre diesel, generating a very decent 150bhp with a 0-100kph in just 8.9 seconds. Wow. So, how do you get that kind of grunt from so little fuel?   “SkyActiv Technology”, or to the great unwashed Stop/Start and a very clever gizmo called iLoop – a regenerative system that stores power. Couple that with the use of lighter steel and aluminium in the chassis and body and you’ve got city car consumption.    


Great, but how does it drive? Like all Mazdas – a pleasure. Thanks to the elevated driving position the visibility from the cabin is unrivalled and the chunky body with thick rubber mouldings running around the frame give it a feel of invincibility. The engine is rev happy and instantly responsive with zero lag from the twin turbo unit. The short shift (taken from the MX5 gives the gearbox a real sporty feel as the hulking body hurtles along with the ease of a hot hatch. Inside the interior is simple, well laid out and has all the creature comforts needed for a growing brood. There is a generous boot with 503 litres of luggage space which expands into 1,620 litres with the rear seats down.    


There’s lots of goodies too with the entry level ‘Executive’ model getting  17 inch alloys, air con,  sat nav, Bluetooth  and a snazzy  5.8” touch screen infotainment system. The flagship Sport SE model is now available with a 6-speed automatic gearbox and comes with a Bose 9-speaker audio system, leather seats, rear reversing camera and 19” alloys. But it’s the economy that does it for us and we averaged high 40s in our little experiment which lasted just over a week. Unfortunately most of the time she was on smooth tarmac in cruise control  but it’s so mind-numbingly boring travelling at just under 100kph we dropped the pedal a little more to 120kph. Even cruising at those speeds the digital display showed that we were still getting mid to high 40s mpg or a smidgen under 5L/100kms. In real money terms the fuel reserve light came on at the 750km mark so a quick pitstop and €30 later we were well on the way to the grand total. In fact there was still juice left in the tank when the boys from Mazda came to collect it.  


So it’s got the performance of a petrol, the economy of a supermini and the drive dynamic of a reasonably hottish hatch back  – which in any man’s book is simply fantastic. Our only gripe is it could do with being slightly larger inside especially the middle back seat.  


Source: PHILIP HEDDERMAN – 23 JULY 2013 



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