ROME - DaimlerChrysler expects to raise the diesel share of Mercedes-Benz passenger-car sales from 38 percent to 45 percent in Germany with a new range of turbodiesels on the revised E-class.
DaimlerChrysler will offer the choice of four direct-injection turbodiesels on its four-year-old mid-range Mercedes, all using Bosch common-rail technology. New 3.2- and 2.7-liter units, plus a new six-speed manual transmission, are available.
The new six-cylinder in-line E320 CDI is coupled with a five-speed automatic gearbox that can be operated manually, as in the S-class. The 3.2-liter, 197hp E320 replaces the E300 turbodiesel in the lineup. It can accelerate from 0-100kph in 8.3 seconds and has a top speed of 230kph. The average fuel consumption is 7.8-liters per 100km.
The new five-cylinder in-line E270 CDI replaces the E290 turbodiesel. The 2.7-liter, 170hp E270 will be available with a six-speed manual gearbox later this year.
Both new diesels meet year 2000 EU3 emission requirements, as do the E200 CDI and the E220 CDI. Those engines have been slightly reworked, with their output increased to 116hp and 143hp respectively. The E-class' gasoline engines are unchanged.
Both new diesels will soon be introduced in the M-class as well. But only the six-cylinder version will make it into the S-class, after the debut of a V-8 turbodiesel with common-rail technology next year.
DaimlerChrysler has invested about DM150 million (euro 76.9 million, $80.5 million) on the E-class face-lift.
'This is a lot more money than you would usually spend for updating a model in the middle of its life span,' said Hans-Joachim Schopf, Mercedes-Benz board member responsible for development. 'Our aim was to perfect a best-seller. The big investment reflects that we not only updated but greatly improved the model.'
The E-class is traditionally the top-seller in the Mercedes-Benz range. It accounts for more than 35 percent of Mercedes passenger-car unit volume and revenue.
Prices have been increased by an average 2.9 percent but DaimlerChrysler said that with added equipment, including window airbags and electronic stability control, the value to the customer has risen by DM2,900.
Minor design changes were carried out on the front and on the rear lights.
'When we decided on the new styling in 1991 we were not satisfied with the headlight and wing section,' Schopf said. 'But at that time headlamp reflector technology prevented us from inserting the lights in a flatter angle and making the shape of the wing section more dynamic. Now reflector technology has moved ahead and we can do what we originally intended.'
At its 1995 launch, the four-headlamp face of the E-class prompted the slogan 'see Mercedes with new eyes.'
'Internally the new look was very much debated,' Schopf said. 'But the design appealed to the customers more than the critics had expected. Over one million units have been sold since the E-class' launch.'