Would American luxury buyers embrace a midsize Mercedes-Benz sedan delivering fuel economy better than most of today’s hybrids?
That’s the question the German automaker is trying to answer as it ponders whether to begin importing its E250 Bluetec, a high-mileage luxury car that European autowriters have taken to calling the “wonder diesel.”
“We’re asking whether (people) could imagine a 4-cylinder diesel E-Class here in the U.S.,” said Klaus Meier, Mercedes’ executive vice president of sales.
The automaker already plans to introduce a new Bluetec version of its E350, shortly after the launch of the gasoline-powered 2010 E-Class sedans and coupes, later this year. The E350, which will meet the toughest emissions standards in all 50 states, provides near-V-8 performance but V-6 fuel economy. The E250, would provide V-6 levels of horsepower and torque, but fuel economy Meier estimates at 44 mpg. That would meet or exceed the mileage of the best hybrid models in its segment, but still offer substantially better performance, according to the automaker.