“Could you imagine a four-cylinder diesel?” asked a Mercedes-Benz exec, right after showing off the company’s new E-Class range for 2010. The question, posed by sales and marketing VP Klaus Meier, followed his proud descriptions of the 2010 E350 BlueTec. The diesel model in the new E-Class range, it delivers 23 mpg city / 32 mpg highway from a V6 diesel that produces 210 horsepower and a stunning 400 foot-pounds of torque.
To answer the four-cylinder question, Mercedes-Benz previewed what will may well become its most economical E-Class range for 2011: The E250 BlueTec, a four-cylinder diesel that goes the V-6 one better by bumping fuel economy to an estimated 28 mpg city / 39 mpg highway. We have to say that’s pretty respectable for a two-ton luxury sedan.
The core of the E250 BlueTec is the new 2010 E-Class, fitted with a 2.2-liter turbocharged direct-injection four-cylinder diesel putting out 204 horsepower and 369 foot-pounds of torque through a 7-speed automatic transmission. This engine had already been announced for the E-Class Coupe model, also unveiled today.
For the U.S., Benz adds its BlueTec emissions control system, with two catalytic converters and an “AdBlue” urea-injection system to clean the nitrous oxides and particulates from the exhaust. The U.S.-spec car is so clean, in fact, that Mercedes-Benz proudly trumpets its compliance with European “EU-6” standards that don’t take effect until late 2014. More importantly, it meets the tough U.S. Tier 2 Bin 5 standards for diesels to be sold in all 50 states.
It’s been decades since the company sold a four-cylinder diesel in the U.S., but smaller engines will let Mercedes-Benz meet increasingly stringent mileage and emissions requirements—as previewed two years ago in the stunning Vision F700 concept.
Will we see the E250 BlueTec at dealers, then? With gas-mileage standards continuing to tighten—the EPA just released its 2011 fuel-economy regulations—we’re betting the answer is yes, though probably not for another year.--John Voelcker