2011 Mercedes-Benz E350 BlueTec
2011 Mercedes-Benz E350 BlueTec. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

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2011 Mercedes-Benz E-Class sedan

After a year’s hiatus, Mercedes-Benz is once again selling a diesel version of its mid-sized E-Class sedan in Canada. While this new-generation 2011 car has the same 72-degree 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 engine as the previous edition, the exhaust is now scrubbed clean thanks to MB’s BlueTec, a system that injects urea into the exhaust stream. Working with a special catalytic converter, this addresses NOX (nitrogen-oxide), the bugaboo of diesel emissions.

Mercedes has a long history of selling diesel sedans in North America, and while these cars may have a narrower appeal here than in other world markets, those who like ‘em, like ‘em a lot. Canadians especially show a fondness for the oil burners.

After a week behind the wheel of this black 2011 E350 BlueTec, I can certainly see the attraction. Not least of which being the fuel economy. Most of my driving was in town, and this swift rig returned a saintly 10.0 L/100 km. Official Transport Canada figures are 9.7 city and 6.1 highway, which Mercedes claims is roughly 30 per cent better than the gas-powered E350.

2011 Mercedes-Benz E350 BlueTec
2011 Mercedes-Benz E350 BlueTec
2011 Mercedes-Benz E350 BlueTec. Click image to enlarge

Is the BlueTec sporty? Not on your life.

This car shows all the tradition Mercedes attributes. It is stoic, conservative, built like a tank and has the legs to follow that pointed star on the hood to the ends of the earth. The seats are broad and flat, unlike those in the BMW 5 Series that hug you in a reassuring embrace that dares you to attack the first on ramp.

The big steering wheel is connected to a pretty numb rack, although when you do push this sedan, it digs in and takes a decent set in a swift bend. But you really don’t want to. Jazz FM or CBC Radio 2 will be flowing from the excellent Harmon Kardon sound system and you’ll be thinking about which corduroy jacket to wear at dinner.

The 210-hp engine redlines at 4,500 rpm so it doesn’t feel very racy, but torque is the name of the game here: a wallop of 400 foot-pounds to be exact, available from 1,600 to 2,400 rpm. The seven-speed 7G-Tronic automatic transmission keeps the engine mostly in its sweet spot, so a big shove of twist is always just a pedal prod away. This effortless thrust is thoroughly in keeping with the Benz’s low profile and comfy comportment.

For 2011, Mercedes is making it even easier for Canucks to embrace the diesel lifestyle. At $62,500, the E350 BlueTec is the least expensive E in the line-up, undercutting the gasoline powered E350 with its 268 hp, 258 lb.-ft. 3.5-litre V6 by $400.

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