Even the most closeted, news-shunning American knows that the rest of the world sees us differently than we see ourselves. Why is a different story, but for the record, the European and Asian automakers have had, for several decades, a separate, and sometimes less exciting American car lineup. The latest example magnifies the gulf between regional approaches to CAFE, and unlike the Beta vs. VHS and BluRay vs. HD-DVD battles, you will have no say in the technology available to you.
In late 2012, Mercedes-Benz will produce a new, European-only E300 with a 2.1-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel hybrid engine. With 201 horsepower and 369 lb-ft torque, the European E300 will sprint to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds and score about 67 mpg combined on the European rating cycle. Performance and awesome fuel economy is like having a fantastic Belgian Tripel, and drinking it, too.
That sounds great, until you consider that Mercedes-Benz won’t be bringing the turbodiesel hybrid engine to America. This is expected, but no less a bummer. Instead, we will be getting the E400 with a 3.5-liter hybrid V-6. According to the UK’s Autocar, that engine will rate around 32 mpg on the tougher American cycle. The same 295-hp engine doesn’t do quite as well in the larger S400, at just 21 mpg combined.
Still, 32 mpg is impressive, but so were the Texas Rangers. They lost the World Series last year. And the year before that.
This isn’t the first diesel snubbing, and it won’t be the last one, either. Unfortunately, despite Volkswagen’s recent TDI successes, it appears that decades of stubborn tradition and unforgotten memories of choking blue smoke will continue to mar our prospects for change.