New E350e built to appeal – and then there’s that electric feeling…
Even in non-hybrid form, it wouldn’t be wrong to say the fifth generation W213 E-Class was a winner for Mercedes-Benz. The combination of style and luxury, plus very refined ride and handling, over its predecessor made sure of that.
Even so, Mercedes-Benz couldn’t sit still. It further upped the ante, leading to the creation of the tech-laden and arguably more refined E350e AMG Line plugin hybrid (PHEV) variant featured here.
After spending considerable time behind the wheel of the new, locally assembled flagship of the E-Class range recently, we have little doubt about this eco-friendly luxury saloon’s electrifying appeal.
That appeal begins with its looks, especially in optional AMG Line trim, as featured. It adds a dash of athleticism to the saloon’s stance by adopting a sportier front fascia. The set of 19-inch AMG twin-five-spoke alloy wheels takes it even further. All combined, it’s easy to see how the E350e commands attention everywhere it goes.
The air of sporty sophistication is echoed in the cabin with, for starters, the AMG Line’s racy, carbon-effect skin of the dash. Typical of the marque, plush leather, soft-touch trim, gloss black panels and the right amount of metal accents are there to be appreciated. Fit and finish is impressive too, yet another testament to the outstanding work of Mercedes-Benz Malaysia’s CKD operation in Pekan, Pahang.
Sophistication also comes from the many advanced creature comforts and novelties on board. Notably, there’s the fully digital instrument panel and infotainment display screen, the latter paired with a refined new iteration of the brand’s touch-sensitive ‘Command’ control interface. Other noteworthy mentions: the electric memory front seats, automatic tri-zone climate control and a crisp-sounding 13-speaker Burmester audio suite.
It’s all to be expected, one supposes, of any flagship car from the famed three-point star badge – until the start button is hit. This is where the E350e truly stands apart from its siblings as a highly efficient and smooth PHEV.
Underneath the hood sits a turbocharged two-litre four-cylinder petrol engine that works in tandem with an electric motor and a 6.2kWh lithium-ion battery pack. It means the E350e boasts greater headline figures than its siblings: total output of 281bhp and 550Nm. Both are sent to the rear wheels via a slick 9-speed automatic box, power that gives the E350e a respectable 6.2-second century sprint time.
It’s made possible by the powertrain’s preference to run on electric power for as much as it can, especially in its default ‘Normal’ driving mode – one of several available. Commendable too is the way it cleverly manages petrol engine and electric power delivery, offering smooth yet direct assists when needed, as well as seamless transitions between both power sources.
Equally impressive is the E350e’s claimed 2.1 litres/100km average fuel economy rating. Drive this car right, especially in any of its efficiency drive modes, and you’ll find yourself making fewer stops to fill its 60-litre fuel tank. Fully charged, the E350e has an electric power-only range of 33km. It’s yet another respectable feat given its size and mass.
Initially, many will find the electric drive’s silence eerie. However, that is easily overcome over time, aided by the cabin’s plush ambience and amenities. Abetting that is Mercedes-Benz’s Air Body Control adjustable air suspension system that contributes a soft yet highly refined and supple ride, especially in ‘Comfort’ mode. This alone makes the E350e ideal for those who prefer to be driven.
Worry not, those who prefer to drive. This German saloon isn’t as soft as you might think. Simply switch to ‘Sport’ and things take a very dynamic turn: ride height is lowered, dampers firm up and the steering wheel’s weight is increased, transforming the E350e into the Autobahn-storming machine everyone expects it to be.
During our three-day media drive from Kuala Lumpur to Johor, Terengganu and back, there wasn’t a moment where the E350e felt off in the way it drove. While it isn’t the sharpest or the fastest E-Class of all, it felt considerably more refined than its siblings. Crucially, its eco-friendly abilities make it a worthy successor to the last electrified, eco-conscious E-Class, the diesel-fuelled E300 Bluetec Hybrid.
As the new E-Class flagship, the E350e’s full swing of standard-equipped active and passive safety features are perhaps the icing on the cake. It gets all the bells and whistles one expects of any flagship Merc. The main features include collision warning and autonomous city braking system, seven airbags, anti-lock brakes (ABS), stability and traction control suites, as well as ISOFIX child seat anchors.
All things considered, we reckon few would argue against the E350e AMG Line’s rather steep RM395,888 price, sans insurance and registration. While its recently launched rival, the Volvo S90 T8, can beg to differ, what with its comparable performance and slightly lower asking price, the E350e’s badge’s appeal, especially when backed by its formidable package, should be hard to resist.
If anything, the E350e sees Mercedes-Benz delivering on its “The Best Or Nothing” motto in arguably the most electrifying way yet.
Engine: 1,991cc 4-cylinder turbo + electric motor, 281bhp, 550Nm, 9-speed auto, RWD