San Francisco: Mercedes-Benz
makes some very nice cars, but I don't think that's the only reason
people buy them. No, people also buy a new Mercedes when they have
something to prove. It's a form of social validation.
They know they were
teased in the seventh grade for wearing the wrong brand of tube socks
and having asymmetrical nostrils, so they drive a Benz to prove they
don't deserve that Crooked Boogers nickname after all.
When Fungus Foot Fred
pulls up at his high school reunion in a big, shiny car with a
three-pointed star on the hood, it says something - something loud and
assertive, but with a very polite tone of voice. It says, "I'm not who
you thought I was."
So, if you agree with
my theory on Mercedes Benz sales psychology, it's only logical for M-B
to produce a car that mirrors its buyers, one that's not at all what
we'd expect based on what we saw in the past.
That car - the one that
would have gotten its lunch money stolen every day in middle school a
few years ago - is the 2007 diesel-powered E-Class.
Called the E320 Bluetec,
it's not like the diesels you remember from years past. It's amazingly
stylish, quiet and refined, so much so that it's almost impossible to
tell it's a diesel without looking at the label on the gas cap. The
engine politely hums at idle, with hardly a hint of the belching,
clap-clap-clap sound you'd expect from a diesel engine.
There's no better
example of how automotive technology can change over time, much like
Smelly Sally from your sixth-grade English class that somehow turned
into a Miss America finalist.
When I was a kid I
lived across the street from a man who drove a school bus every morning.
Each day, before sunrise, he would wake up early and drive to the bus
barn in his Volkswagen Jetta diesel. Which wasn't merely loud enough to
frighten the whole neighborhood, it was loud enough to wake up every
living creature in the northern hemisphere.
It also seemed like his
Jetta had to be warmed up for two days before it could drive, so it
would sit for an eternity in the driveway, spewing smoke, smelling like
a refinery and making enough noise to knock jumbo jets out of the sky.
He would have been arrested if the cops' cars didn't fall apart upon
reaching the lethal wall of diesel sound, soot and stinky smoke.
That old diesel
couldn't be more different from the new ones, even if it grew horns,
wore a grass skirt and started dancing the hula. The Bluetec is
freakishly quiet, like you'd expect a Mercedes to be, but it's also a
mobile billboard for Greenpeace, something the dirty old diesels never
could have been.
Thanks to tighter
emissions regulations in the United States, the Mercedes E320 is the
only passenger car available with a diesel engine in 2007. It uses a
complicated exhaust system to clean up the engine's fumes before they
exit the tailpipe, resulting in cleaner emissions than any other diesels
It also gets gas
mileage that will knock your name-brand socks off. This car, which
makes 388 pound-feet of torque, gets an incredible 27 miles per gallon
in town and 37 on the highway. That's better than anything else in the
mid-size luxury class. Heck, it's better than most economy cars.
While the E320 has the
soft leather, smooth ride and impressive gadgets you'd expect in a Benz,
it also has a couple of downsides. For one, the navigation system was
designed by a group of drunken monkeys. It's so illogical and
counterintuitive to use that you'd be better off with paper maps drawn
by Lewis and Clark.
For another, if you
look in the Guiness Book of World Records under "most boring car in the
history of humanity," you'll find a picture of the E-Class. It's
comfortable on the highway, sure enough, but it also feels like you're
driving a Camry. It provides no excitement, no satisfaction in corners
and no driving fun. Other than the guilty pleasure of knowing you're
behind the wheel of a Mercedes Benz and everyone else isn't.
A great thing about
this car, though, is the price. The diesel-powered E320 costs $52,325,
which may seem like a lot at first glance. But when you consider it's
only $1,000 more than the gas-powered E350 that doesn't have the
high-tech diesel engine, gets far worse gas mileage and has less torque,
the Bluetec looks dirt cheap in comparison.
tested? The 2007 Mercedes-Benz E320 Bluetec
with a base price of $51,550. Options include: Iridium silver paint
($700), Panorama sunroof ($1,000), electronic trunk closer ($520),
Premium II Package ($4,290). Price as tested including a $775
destination charge: $58,835.
Why avoid it?
It sets the worldwide benchmark for boring cars. Any vehicle this
expensive should get you excited, not make you yawn.
Why buy it?
It's a diesel, but not at all like the ones you remember. It's
shockingly quiet, has clean emissions and gets great fuel mileage that
you simply won't believe. And, of course, the Mercedes Benz badge is a
nice plus. By
Derek Price © AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Mercedes-Benz Home Page
Syndicated content provided by Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
Column Name: Mercedes uses quiet & earth-friendly diesel
Topic: The 2007 Mercedes-Benz E320 Bluetec
Word Count: 937
Photo Caption: The 2007 Mercedes-Benz E320 Bluetec
Photo Credits: Mercedes-Benz Bluetec Internet Media
Series #: 2007-19
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2007 Mercedes-Benz E320