In recent years, even premium car manufacturers have started to offer models that run on natural gas. Mercedes-Benz is one of them, with the German carmaker launching the E 200 Natural Gas Drive, a successor for the pre-facelift E 200 NGT BlueEfficiency that can run either on gasoline or on natural gas.
Powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine developing 154 hp (156 PS) and 270 Nm (199 lb-ft) of torque, the E 200 NGD sprints from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 10.4 seconds, with top speed rated at 220 km/h (137 mph).
In natural gas mode, its average fuel consumption is 4.3 kg of natural gas per 100 km, which corresponds to CO2 emissions of 116 g/km (20 percent less than on petrol mode). When running on petrol, the E 200 NGD averages 6.3 liters/100 km (37.3 US mpg).
Since natural gas is around half the price of unleaded petrol in Germany, running costs are 50 percent smaller, with annual savings of more than €1,000 for those who drive 20,000 km (12,430 miles) a year. The E 200 NGD also has an increased driving range, being able to run 1,300 km (808 miles) with all tanks full (more than 400 km/248 miles on natural gas alone).
The car is fitted with three containers for natural gas – one behind the rear backrest and two under the floor of the boot. Together they hold 121.5 liters (19.5 kg) of natural gas, while boot volume is reduced to 400 liters (14.1 cubic feet). However, being “green” doesn’t come cheap, as the E 200 NGD is priced from €47,808 ($63,880) in Germany.
Mercedes also announced a second eco-friendly model, the E 220 BlueTEC BlueEfficiency Edition, which emits just 114 g of CO2 per kilometer. Powered by a 2.1-liter diesel engine developing 168 hp (170PS) and 400 Nm (295 lb-ft) of torque, the model is fitted with an ECO start/stop function, 7G-Tronic Plus automatic transmission, low-resistance tyres, a lowered chassis (by 15mm) and a radiator blind that improves aerodynamics.
Consequently, the E 220 BlueTEC BlueEfficiency Edition averages 4.4 l/100 km (53.4 US mpg). Performance is decent too, with the 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) sprint being covered in 8.4 seconds and a 227 km/h (141 mph) top speed. The model will be available from September in Germany for €47,273 ($63,166).
By Dan Mihalascu