Mercedes C-Class hybrid review

We get behind the wheel of the Mercedes C 300 de diesel plug-in hybrid estate

Mercedes C-Class hybrid
Plug-in hybrid

Pros

  • Comfortable and refined
  • Good electric range
  • Low running costs
     

Cons

  • Weight blunts performance slightly
  • BMW 3 Series more exciting to drive
  • Quite expensive for private buyers
     
Car type Electric range MPG CO2
Plug-in hybrid 35 miles 188mpg 38-42g/km

Mercedes is going against the plug-in hybrid grain somewhat with this new C-Class PHEV, which should be on sale in the UK by the end of 2019. The key difference between this car and rivals like the BMW 330e is that it pairs a diesel, rather than petrol, engine with its electric motor and batteries.

A petrol C 300 e version will be offered in due course, but this C 300 de is aimed at those who undertake a mix of local or urban driving with long-distance motorway runs. It aims to combine the traditional, smooth, long-distance cruising ability of a powerful diesel engine with the sprightly around-town performance and zero-emissions capability of electric power.

The car's four-cylinder diesel engine and electric motor together make a punchy 302bhp, resulting in a hot-hatchback-rivalling 0-62mph time of 5.7 seconds and a top speed of 155mph. In electric mode, the C 300 de can travel at up to 80mph and should keep going for up to 35 miles before the diesel engine has to kick in.

Depending on the exact specification chosen, CO2 emissions are between 38 and 42g/km, so running costs for company-car drivers (this car's primary intended market) will be rock-bottom. That's doubly so if your commute is within that 35-mile electric range and you can keep the battery topped up with regular charging. Under these conditions, you may hardly use any diesel at all during routine day-to-day driving.

Driving around town in pure-electric mode is a serene, relaxing experience for the most part, although it can take a bit of practice to pull away from traffic lights smoothly given the electric motor's instant power delivery. Progress is near-silent, with just a faint hint of motor and transmission whine to remind you of how the car is powered.

Pressing the accelerator harder brings the diesel engine to life. While it's a long way off the clattery diesels of old, it's obviously noticeable on start-up, but quietens down very nicely once you're at a steady cruise.

On the move, the car will assist you in getting the best possible fuel-efficiency by suggesting when to lift off the throttle, factoring in an imminent change of speed limit or downhill stretch of road.

When it comes to handling, a regular non-hybrid C-Class does feel a bit sharper and quicker than the C 300 de, which is an unavoidable consequence of the weight added by the hybrid system.

Exact UK pricing for the C-Class hybrid has yet to be revealed, but a figure in the range of £35-40,000 is expected, with a slight premium for the estate bodystyle which we've tested here.