Mercedes ups its green game
What it Is
Mercedes-Benz BlueEFFICIENCY C-Class Preview – 2008 Geneva Auto Show: Blue is the new green, at least if you’re Mercedes-Benz. All of its environmentally friendly technology seems to have a blue theme, from Bluetec diesels to the new BlueEFFICENCY engine lineup that Mercedes-Benz debuted in its small C-Class cars in Geneva. Designed to reduce fuel consumption without sacrificing performance, Mercedes claims up to a 12 percent increase in efficiency over the non-BlueEFFICIENCY versions.Why it Matters
Luxury manufacturers are in a bind. After decades of safely assuming their customers weren't interested in fuel economy or emissions, they’re finding that dynamic has changed. After all, when it’s more prestigious to roll up to the red carpet at the Oscars in a Prius instead of an S-Class, clearly Mercedes-Benz needs to work on its green credentials. Like its German rivals, the company is trotting out as much new green technology as it can to stay in the high-economy/low-emissions game.
What’s Under the Hood
While three engines were on display in Geneva – including a turbodiesel – it’s the 3.5-liter V-6 that will likely come to the U.S. The main difference is direct injection, which differs from the more common port injection in that it sprays fuel directly into the combustion chamber. This has several benefits, among them more power and added fuel efficiency. The Mercedes-Benz engine is no different, offering up 292 horsepower (up from 268 in the current C350) but consuming 10 percent less fuel according to Mercedes Benz.
What it Looks Like
While the exterior style is largely unchanged, Mercedes-Benz has made numerous subtle changes to increase aerodynamics, and thus high-speed fuel economy. Low rolling-resistance tires, revised outside mirror housings, sealed joints between the exterior panels and lightweight wheels all contribute to lowering the drag by seven percent. You’d never know by looking though.
What Mercedes-Benz Says
Mercedes-Benz is surprisingly restrained in its press release on the BlueEFFICIENCY models, with the save-the-world rhetoric essentially banished. Instead, we get things like this: “For the new BlueEFFICIENCY models, Mercedes engineers have harnessed potentials from all fields of development to reduce weight, aerodynamic drag and rolling resistance yet further, and to organize the onboard energy management of these [sedans] even more efficiently.” Hyperbole-free information in a press release? Revolutionary thinking!
What We Think
Direct injection is great in our opinion, because it benefits both sides of our conflicted souls. Our right brains want more power, and damn the consequences! On the other hand, our left brain knows that more power means more fuel consumption and emissions. Hey, not with direct injection! We’re glad that Mercedes-Benz is implementing it in its C-Class, and look forward to driving the new car in the near future.
By Keith Buglewicz
Photo credit: Mercedes-Benz