- On track for a record-breaking career
- Around the world – four times over
- The world-record run by the E 320 CDI
The start of the world-record run on April 1st, 2005, marked the beginning of one of the toughest tests ever inflicted on a standard-production vehicle. Long-distance world-record attempts are nothing new, but no manufacturer has ever dared to go for a record with three diesel-powered vehicles over a distance of 100,000 miles (160,934 kilometres) each. The figures associated with the test bring home the daunting scale of the event: 100,000 miles covered at an average speed in excess 139,699 mph (224,823 km/h), 24 hours a day for 30 days.
Adding up the distances covered by all three cars gives an impressive total of 300,000 miles (482,802 kilometres) – one-and-a-quarter times the distance from the Earth to the Moon. In order to lend the record runs additional authority, Mercedes-Benz used three E 320 CDI models whose only distinguishing features consisted of red, green and blue markings with similarly coloured front fog lamps. The fact that no fewer than three cars managed the record distance is a clear indication of how reliable the current E-Class is. The vehicles were driven by three teams of six drivers, with each driver taking the wheel for about 2 hours, 10 minutes between refuelling stops. Servicing, involving the replacement of operating fluids and wear parts, was performed as usual in accordance with the service intervals. Each vehicle required servicing 10 times in the course of the entire record run.
The world-record run was supervised by the FIA,* which sets and enforces strict rules for tests of this kind. The participating vehicles were selected at DaimlerChrysler’s Sindelfingen plant before they even left the production line by FIA officials who sealed them before they were shipped to the USA. Before, during and after the record run, the test vehicles were monitored continuously by the FIA until the world record was recognised officially. In accordance with the globally recognised regulations, the extent of any repairs which may be performed is limited and the replacement of entire assemblies such as the engine, transmission or exhaust system is not allowed. The test vehicles had no difficulty in meeting these requirements as no faults occurred during the record run. In addition to numerous class records, the three six-man driver teams also set new world records for 50,000 miles at 140.092 mph (225.456 km/h) and for 100,000 miles at 139,699 mph (224.823 km/h). **Dramatic climatic variations, with temperatures up to 45°C (113° F) and the continuous vibration caused by the uneven road surface provided additional challenges for the vehicles. This ordeal proved the durability of the new, 165 kW/224 hp V6 CDI diesel engine as well as the seven-speed 7G-TRONIC automatic transmission. This world-record run allows premium manufacturer Mercedes-Benz to demonstrate once again that today’s diesel engines are among the most advanced drive systems available. Among those who became convinced by the new V6 CDI powerplant was Brendan Gaughan, who last season drove in the most successful US racing series, the NASCAR Nextel Cup. “For a diesel to manage a distance of four times round the world at an average speed of 139.699 mph is fantastic. What impressed me, in addition to this sporting achievement, was its great smoothness and comfort – both were on a par with a V8 gas engine.”
May 1st, 2005 saw the vehicles cross the finish line and take their well-deserved place in the record books. Like a high-precision Swiss watch mechanism, the E 320 CDI models did all that was asked of them without any problems. The most outstanding aspect of this record run is that the 100,000 miles (160,934 kilometres) were covered at an average speed of 224.823 km/h (139.699 mph). Mercedes-Benz succeeded in breaking all 22 of the international FIA records which it had set out to break.
As well as offering superb performance and excellent quality, these vehicles are also outstandingly economical. The fuel consumption figure of 40 mpg achieved by the E 320 CDI under normal driving conditions is unrivalled by any vehicle in its competitive segment in the USA. Furthermore, the Mercedes-Benz engineers have successfully used effective emission control systems to satisfy the strict exhaust emission standards set by the EPA. Through the use of the latest technology it will in future be possible to comply with the Californian CARB (California Air Resources Board) legislation – the strictest in the world – which currently applies in five states. In view of the dramatic rise in fuel prices, US President George W. Bush last week announced a programme to develop more fuel-efficient, low-emission vehicles. Together with hybrid vehicles, “clean diesel” models like the Mercedes-Benz E 320 CDI are to be promoted by means of tax incentives to the tune of $ 2.5 billion over the next few years.