THE RIDE: Four-door, five-passenger 2007 Mercedes-Benz E320 Bluetec sedan.
DOWN THE ROAD: If you are concerned about reducing pollutant emissions in the environment and want to do something about it, here's your chance. The diesel engine in the E320 is a step forward to solving the global energy crisis while still possessing the power to take you from 0 to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds.
TECH & PERFORMANCE: A 3.0-liter exhaust-driven turbocharged V-6 diesel engine puts out a respectable 208 horsepower at 3800 rpm and 400 pounds-feet of torque at 1600 rpm. The electronic 7-speed automatic transmission shifts seamlessly while offering manual-shift capabilities. A four-link independent suspension in the front and a five-arm multilink suspension in the rear result in a well-damped ride. The power-assisted, speed-sensitive steering is precise, whether you are attempting to park or turning corners at high speeds. I found the brake feel on the E320 solid and firm, thanks to 12.3-inch vented front and 11.8-inch solid rear discs. Once you push the pedal to the metal, the E320 drives like any other gasoline-powered car on the road. You soon will forget that the sedan is fitted with a Bluetec engine, which incorporates additional emissions control technology such as four valves per cylinder, fuel injectors, variable-geometry turbocharger and exhaust-gas recirculation.
LOOK & FEEL: The slightly restyled E320 acquires a pointed grille and taillights that extend into rear-quarter panels. You will be hard-pressed to notice the Bluetec engine under the hood till your eyes set upon the badge on the trunk lid. The cabin is plush and roomy as is expected of any Mercedes. Burl walnut wood trim is splashed on the dashboard, center console, door panels and shifter knob. The instrument panel shows off three circular gauges for speedometer, tachometer and analog clock with bar graphs on either side displaying fuel and temperature levels. The four-spoke leather-wrapped steering wheel offers a firm grip. Some other visible standard features are dual-zone automatic climate control, 10-way power front seats, a hidden in-dash six-CD player, electric adjustable tilt/telescoping steering column and a power-tilt/sliding-glass sunroof.
SAFETY FIRST: Dual front and side airbags, side curtain with rollover sensor for both rows, front-seat active head restraints, four-wheel antilock brakes, front and rear crumple zones, antiskid system, stability control, daytime running lights and a tire pressure monitoring system are standard.
OUT THE DOOR: $51,550, plus tax, tag, delivery and destination charges. Go for the $4,290, which will fetch you a DVD navigation system, heated front seats, power rear-window sunshade, bi-xenon headlights with active-cornering illumination, among other goodies.
BY THE NUMBERS: Tires, 225/55R16 all-season; wheelbase, 112.4 inches; length, 191 inches; weight, 3,860 pounds; fuel capacity, 21.1 gallons; highway, 37 mpg; city, 26 mpg.
WHY DIG IT: Mercedes long has been a leader in the diesel-engine world, especially in Europe. With U.S. gasoline prices hovering around $3 a gallon, one only can hope that more of us seek out diesel-powered cars such as the E320 Bluetec. Besides, who doesn't want a cleaner environment with fewer carbon monoxide emissions?
Nitish S. Rele is an advertising staff writer for The Tampa Tribune.