The Road to Maastricht – Driving the Mercedes-Benz E350 BlueTec Diesel Sedan

By Christian Stampfer on 5 September 2011
  • Share

Maastricht, the capital of the province Limburg, is located in the southern part of the Netherlands. It was also our first destination after taking delivery of The Diesel Driver’s new long-term test car, a Mercedes-Benz E350 BlueTec diesel sedan.

TDD Editor Jonathan Spira and I started out from the Mercedes-Benz Kundencenter (customer center) in Sindelfingen (near Stuttgart) on August  5 after taking delivery of our newest oilburner as part of Mercedes-Benz’ European Delivery program.

The Kundencenter is directly integrated in the heart of Mercedes’ biggest production and test facility. Since the plant facilities are only a stone´s throw away from the Autobahn, we followed the Rudolf-Diesel-Straße (what an appropriate street name for the start of our journey) for less than five minutes and entered the Autobahn A81 in the direction Stuttgart / München / Karlsruhe.

In the first few minutes of driving our new long-term test car, I got to experience several features of the E350. Since I am used to drive with extra tight side bolster support, I tried to adjust my multicontour driver seat while driving. I realized that I must have pressed the wrong button, as the massage function immediately started to work. At first, I was a bit confused and didn’t realize what I had turned on but, after a while, I not only got used to it, but I used the massage function rather extensively on the way to Maastricht.

At Kreuz (interchange) Stuttgart, where the A81 meets the A8, we followed the A81 in the direction of Würzburg / Heilbronn.  We were not driving very fast, however, as there was a tremendous amount of traffic on the three lane Autobahn. As we drove towards Heilbronn, we passed Zuffenhausen and Ludwigsburg, where Porsche’s production and distribution center is located.

We continued our drive via the A6 and switched onto the A61 near Hockenheim, where the Hockenheim-Ring (a German Formula 1 racing circuit) is situated.

For the next 258 km (160.3 miles) we followed the A61, a two lane Autobahn which connects the city of Venlo in Holland with Hockenheim. Since I already knew the A61 from my recent trip to Venlo in December 2010 with the BMW 318d Sedan, it was time to switch drivers and Jonathan got behind the wheel.

Thanks to 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) of traffic, we were able to enjoy the another safety feature of the E350. The Distronic Plus with Pre-Safe Breaking is an option that is included in the Driver Assistance Package. It is similar to BMWs Active Cruise Control or Audi’s Adaptive Cruise Control and utilizes a radar sensor in the front grill of the car. The system maintains a pre-set following distance behind the car ahead.  It initiates braking and acceleration on its own, based on traffic conditions. We found the Distronic Plus quite useful in stop-and-go driving. Along with the massage function of our multicontour driver seat, the Distronic Plus was the best way to leave the traffic jam behind us.

For the last stretch of our drive to Maastricht, we switched at the Kreuz (interchange) Kerpen (Kerpen is the city where the former Formula 1 champion Michael Schumacher was born) onto the A4 and headed towards the German border near Aachen, which we past about 30 minutes later. After we entered the Netherlands, I programmed the Distronic Plus to a maximum speed of 125 km/h (77.6 mph), since the speed limit is 120 km/h (74.5 mph) in the Netherlands.

We reached our destination of Maastricht shortly after crossing the border after a drive of 30 km (18.6 miles) via the A76 and A79, on which we experienced only light evening traffic.

In total we drove 472 km (293 miles) in 6 hours and 33 minutes and our fuel economy was 7.4 l/100 km (31.78 mpg). Our average speed was 72 km/h (44.7 mp/h). Taking into account that this was the first road trip with the new E350 BlueTec, the numbers met our expectations given that the EPA highway rating is 33 mpg (7.1 l/100 km). After the first few thousand kilometers or miles, we expect to see even better fuel economy. Indeed, last fall Jonathan drove an E350 BlueTec from New York to Boston and averaged 6.8 l/100 km (34.5 mpg) at an average speed of 109 km/h (67.7 mph).
Click here to continue to Page 2 – The Road to Maastricht: A Virtual Drive

Pages: 1 2