Mercedes-Benz Malaysia (MBM) recently launched the new E350 e Plug-in Hybrid luxury premium sedan into the local market with the E350 e Executive Line and the E350 AMG Line priced at RM392,888 and RM395,888 respectively. Two weeks after its official launch at the Pekan Production Plant in Pahang, MBM invited members of the media to drive the company’s latest hybrid executive on a road trip around the heart of the peninsular from Kuala Lumpur to Johor and from Johor to Terengganu via Pahang over smooth highways, scenic village roads, and rough undulating trunk roads in between.
The E350 e Executive Line features the classic Mercedes look with an interior featuring high-grade materials such as Nappa leather upholstery and best in class features including the Burmester surround sound system and widescreen cockpit. The E350 e AMG Line boasts a distinctive and striking design through its AMG body styling and 19-inch AMG five-twin-spoke light alloy wheels and featuring sporty metal weave trim and AMG sports steering wheel in the interior.
Whichever trim you opt for, the grille of the CKD E350 e are flanked by the brand’s latest Multibeam LED headlamps housing 84 individually controlled high-performance LEDs that automatically illuminate the road with a precision-controlled distribution of light without dazzling other road users. The grid allows light distribution of the left and right headlamps to be controlled separately that adapts to the driving situation. This is the world’s first Intelligent Light System in both low- and high-beam mode that renders light digitally without the use of mechanical actuators.
Likewise in both trims, occupants will definitely take notice of the E-Class’ double 12.3-inch high-resolution displays with a resolution of 1,920 by 720 pixels each sides located within the driver’s field of vision relaying current vehicle information and other infotainment related functions. Both screens provide clear visual albeit with minor reflections to be seen on the driver’s side screen.
The Mercedes-Benz E350 e excels in the same area as other E-Class models, which the interior is among the very best you can buy at any price. The first thing you notice is the presentation – which is elegant and attractive – and every surface is a pleasure to the touch. The E350e comes with the COMAND Online infotainment system, which provides navigation, radio, Bluetooth, media connectivity and Apple Car Play on the 12.3-inch display. All of the buttons and dials have a good tactile feedback, which feels good to the touch and the infotainment hotkeys come useful especially when moving from one function to another while driving.
The high-resolution screen is integrated seamlessly into the dashboard, which the infotainment functions are controlled by a dial and touchpad positioned between the front seats. It also displays the reverse camera located at the rear of the car with guidelines and proximity sensors that assist you when backing up into tight spots.
Besides settling for a traditional analogue instrument cluster, the E350 e comes with a second 12.3-inch screen and being completely digital, drivers can even pick what kind of style the screens will be in “Classic,” “Sport” or “Progressive.” The driver can choose different options available on demand via touch-sensitive control buttons on the steering wheel, which respond to finger swipes—similar to the functions on a smartphone—to control the car’s infotainment system and current driving information such as the car’s mileage, current and average fuel consumption, hybrid drivetrain status, and other vehicle related information and warnings.
The automatic dual-zone climate control provides plenty of options to choose from to suit your personal comfort levels and preferences. The auto air recirculation will turn off by itself after 20 minutes, but you’ll never notice that it has been switched off as there is no smell of exhaust fumes or odours from the outside entering the cabin. Being a PHEV, the E350 e is equipped with pre-entry climate control which efficiently cools the interior temperature down already at departure.
The hybrid E-Class comes fitted with the Burmester 13 high-performance speakers with 9-channel DSP amplifier distributes its 590 W output across the speaker system. The woofers are built into the front of the car body instead of the doors, which uses the driver and passenger footwells as acoustic horns to boost sound pressure.
The Burmester system is as faithful as it gets. Majority of in-car systems tested tend to require dialling down of the bass, but with this set-up you might actually feel a tweak higher is needed. Spin Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi, The Four Seasons: Spring 1 and the Burmester system replicates the track’s rich eight violin texture with good level of detail throughout, and it’s expressive and smooth at the top end.
The interior is what you can expect from a car of this calibre, and the E350 e delivers. The front Nappa leather seats provide both comfort and support to both the driver and passenger and are 12-way electrically adjustable with three memory presets. The front seats provide comfort adequate for long distance journeys and support when the going gets spirited through tight and twisty bends.
Even seriously long-legged drivers should have no problem getting comfortable behind the wheel of the Mercedes E350 e with near limitless driving positions achievable to suit almost anyone who holds a valid drivers’ licence, be it small framed or large.
That said, the rear passengers could bask in the E-Class’ generous head and legroom with similar comfort levels enjoyed by the front occupants – even equipped with the panoramic glass roof. There are wide storage pockets in both doors, along with a decent-sized covered area at the bottom of the dashboard with removable cup holders and a cubby beneath the central armrest enough to fit a tissue box inside. If you need to lug perishable items on a short trip, the glove compartment is air-conditioned and can keep food items and probably your passenger’s overheating smartphone.
Having a battery fitted under the trunk floor, the boot space has been sacrificed a little. There’s only 400-litres of boot space available, which is slightly smaller than the 540-litre space enjoyed by its regular fuelled stablemates.
What occupied that 140-litre space is the 350 e’s 6.2kWh battery pack, which can be charged by using the charging port built into the rear bumper. By using the high-voltage charger, the battery is replenished in around an hour and a half, or three hours via a standard domestic socket. The car’s electric-only range is a decent 33km, but several different drive modes allow the assistance to be used or conserved in different ways.
Motive force comes from an M 274 DE 20 AL two-litre turbocharged petrol engine making a stout power output of 211hp at 5,500 rpm with a maximum torque output of 350Nm available from 1,200 rpm to 4,000 rpm. The two-litre lump is coupled with a 9G-TRONIC plug-in hybrid transmission and the latest electric motor, which makes 88hp and 440Nm from 0-1000 rpm. The E350 e boasts a combined system output of 286hp and 550Nm that gives the executive PHEV the legs for explosive sprints up to its electronically limited 250km/h top speed—provided that the battery pack has more than 30% charge left.
The E350 e’s claimed fuel consumption by Mercedes-Benz is 2.1 L/100km and that’s an achievable figure when the battery pack is topped up with careful management of the hybrid system. During the drive, the lowest consumption figure achieved was 5.4 L/100 km as tested which includes cruising at legal highway speed limits, stopping at traffic lights and overtaking slower vehicles, without having to sacrifice comfort while enjoying our favourite albums.
There are four Hybrid modes to choose from: Hybrid which leaves the powertrain to its own devices; E-Mode enables the car to run solely until the battery pack runs out of charge; E-Save keeps the battery level constant and conserving it for use later; and Charge which uses the engine and regenerative braking to recharge the battery pack on the move.
The E350 e comes with the brand’s Air Body Control air suspension with continuously adjustable damping as standard. Together with Dynamic Select, the air suspension system can be made more comfortable or sporty depending on the drive mode selected. The ride height can be raised or lowered at the touch of a button of up to 25mm for the rear wheel drive model and 35mm above with the all-wheel-drive model above the normal ride height. At speeds above 80km/h, the suspension lowers to the car’s normal ride height, while at speeds above 120km/h, the car lowers by a further 15mm to reduce aerodynamic drag and improve driving stability.
Dynamics wise, the E350 e is an easy car to drive, as it is well mannered even when driven close to its limit. There’s plenty of body sway through corners, though, and while the steering is light and accurate, it provides little genuine feedback. In Sport + driving mode however, – besides the sharper throttle response, heavier steering and aggressive shift strategy of the nine-speed transmission – the firm suspension setting takes away a small yet crucial amount of compliance needed most to keep the front wheels in contact on undulating Malaysian roads at higher driving speeds.
Braking in most Mercedes-Benz cars is highly commendable and the E350 e is no exception. The brake pedal feels firm and progressive which makes it easy for the driver to modulate, not only for comfort but makes things easier in managing the car’s weight balance, especially when turning into corners. This makes left-foot-braking a lot easier, too.
When it comes to cruising, refinement is generally good, with little wind noise at 120 km/h and only a gentle background road noise. That said, the larger-than-standard alloy wheels do generate noticeably more noise on the highway.
To sum things up, the Mercedes-Benz E350 e Plug-in Hybrid ticks all of the right premium luxury saloon boxes; the car has a comfortable ride, low road and wind noise, a good audio system which you can play Electronic Dance Music or Classical, frugal fuel consumption and an above than average performance. In addition, having a purely electric drive mode can come very useful for driving around in urban areas. The E350 e is a preview of what is to come in the near future, a future where cars will be powered by an electric motor and get its energy from a wall socket.
+ Timeless looks
+ Practical upmarket interior
+ Smooth and powerful engine
+ Frugal fuel consumption
Mercedes-Benz E 350 e
Price Msia: RM392,888 Executive Line
RM395,888 AMG Line
Engine: 1,991cc in-line four cylinder
Power: 286 hp (combined)
Torque: 550 Nm (combined)
Fuel Economy: 5.4 l/100km (Tested)
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic transmission