Merc dives into diesel with its latest GLE/GLC plug-in hybrids

In a genuine case of ‘if Merc doesn’t know better, nobody will’, writes Iain Robertson, its latest hybrid development relies on diesel as its core resource, while making easy meat of the plug-in aspects to drive down operational costs.

Boasting headlining figures such as 282mpg, 100mph top speed in EV mode, over 60 miles EV range and CO2 emissions as low as 29g/km, Mercedes-Benz could be stated as having cracked the hybrid conundrum. Equipped with a 31.2kWh battery pack, it provides an immensely satisfying EV-prioritised driving experience, by which the owner will seldom dip into the contents of the fuel tank during the average commuting week.

Perhaps it is worth highlighting that the hybrid technology is not just the preserve of Merc’s 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine, as a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol is also available. The performance figures (petrol in brackets) are almost identical: 320bhp (320bhp), 516lbs ft of torque (516lbs ft), 0-60mph in 6.5s (5.4s), top speed 130mph (142mph) and CO2 emissions 29g/km (57g/km). The petrol version offers an EV range of around 25 miles but it also features a smaller (13.5kWh) battery pack. The hybrid system is supported by an on-board charger, which means that full recharge time from a depleted state, using a domestic wall-box, can be carried out in a mere 1.5 hours; doing the same using a three-pin plug will take up to five hours.

Should extra charging be required while on a trip, the Merc intelligent, speech recognition system reacts to: “Hey Mercedes, find charging stations nearby!”. The sat-nav mapping adapts accordingly and will direct the driver to the nearest available charging post. Naturally, payment can be carried out using a ‘Mercedes me’ charge card, the accompanying app, or directly from the car, such are the levels of connectivity that Merc provides with its latest models.

Plug-in hybrids offer the consumer the best of both worlds: in town they run in all-electric mode, while on longer journeys they benefit from the range of the combustion engine. They make the vehicle more efficient overall, because they prioritise energy recovery during braking but also allow the internal combustion engine to run in more favourable operating ranges, i.e. no noise, or pollution in built-up areas, allied to greater efficiency on the open road. The intelligent, route-based operational strategy activates the electric driving mode, where it is most appropriate for the route, by taking into account navigation data, topography, speed limits and the traffic conditions for the entire programmed route.

Plug-in hybrids are also an important milestone on the way to emissions-free driving. Merc is developing its plug-in hybrids further systematically, under the EQ Power label. EQ Power is also Merc’s guarantee of first-rate dynamism. EQ Power+ is the name of the performance hybrid technology that Mercedes‑AMG will incorporate in the future, having been developed through its Formula 1 activities. The first members of the EQ Power family with front-wheel drive, celebrated their premieres recently, with both A and B-Class models providing mainstays of the plug-in initiative Merc is pursuing.

MSG Summary

Keep your eyes on Merc, because it is carmaker that is armed with market-leading knowledge and intentions. Orders are being taken now for delivery in early-2020.

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