It’s a real shame : regulations are enforced too quickly and are detrimental for plug-in hybridcars, tax benefits currently available on them will already be over by the end of the year. While the very first hybrid cars available clearly lacked range in ful electric mode, the current crop offers a much more compelling electric experience. This petrol-powered C-Class is surely one of the finest hybrids available.
Plug-in hybrids are currently all the rage and everywhere in company car fleets… I can’t help but smile ! In the worst of the winter season, their owners are amazed these cars’ electric range is a mere 20 km, no matter the car remains plugged in all day long. And I’m not even talking about users who ‘forget’ to recharge their car and… get even worse mileage than they would with a regular internal combustion engined car. Fortunately, Mercedes still works hard to make this technology ever more relevant. The latest C-Class features a battery similar to the one the first Renault Zoe used, according to my colleague from Le Moniteur Automobile. When I picked up the car at Mercedes Belgium headquarters in Evere, its battery was fully charged. Driving it back to Liege, the internal combustion engine didn’t even start once. That’s a real achievement, especially knowing that I never really bother about the range!
I like it
Although some people are not yet used to the large dashboard screens, they have been around since the launch of the S-Class, just like the three-spoke steering wheel and its push buttons which are not always easy to handle. It’s certainly a matter of getting used to them but an adult-sized thumb is not the sharpest tool to handle them. On the other hand, you always marvel at the number of displays available, even if you end up with just one. The driving position is excellent and the upholstery is still as good as ever… even if some plastics will make older users cringe.
As I said above, this plug-in hybrid electric range of around 80 km (96 km displayed after a full charge) is quite convincing. The battery (25.4 kWh) takes less than three hours to charge using a 11 kW socket. Using a faster charger (max. 55 kW) is possible as well. This Mercedes C300 is sleek and aerodynamically efficient. It’s average electric consumption is only 16.7 kWh / 100 km, quite impressive! And having recharged it as often as possible, at the end of the 623 km test, our average fuel consumption was a miserly 4.5 l / 100 km ! Covering about 1000 km should be easy with a full charge combined to a full tank of petrol.
I don’t like it
As ever with a Mercedes, prices can quickly soar… in this case, a basic car (Business Line) without any extras already retails at…€55,000. Our test car was an AMG line one and this adds more than €5,000 to the bill. There seems to be fewer extras than a few years ago but ticking many of them will get the final bill to some unreasonable levels for just a small saloon, after all.
Why I buy it
I would certainly recommand this hybrid C-Class to any business user : i twill attract tax benefits till the end of the year. The C300e electric range is very impressive and we suspect the 3000de’s range is even better ! Even using the car in full electric mode for the office commute won’t force you to leave it plugged in all day to be able to go back home again ! This Mercedes is a really compelling case for plug in hybrids, finally making sense of it all but isn’t it already too late? It’s a comfortable car with loads of up-to-date equipment. Despite being on the heavy side (dry wieght : 2125 kg), its road behavior is quite enticing and dynamic.
Why I don’t buy it
As ever with German premium cars, prices are quite steep. Interior quality is nice enough but the C300e uses some nasty, cheap-looking plastics… drastically reducing costs and trying to get away with it thinking no one will notice has its own limits. It’s a kind of a given thing with German saloons, rear space is at a premium and boot capacity far from the best in class. However, in this case, it should prove to be more than adequate for most users. (Translation: Dimitri Urbain)