Mercedes E-Class hybrid review

The latest Mercedes E-Class hybrid is available with petrol or diesel power, and is a comfortable alternative to the sportier BMW 530e

£46,230 - £56,290
Plug-in hybrid

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Low company-car tax
  • Cutting-edge in-car tech

Cons

  • BMW 5 Series more fun to drive
  • Reduced boot space
  • Expensive to buy
Car type Electric range Fuel economy CO2 emissions
Plug-in hybrid 32 miles 166-235mpg 33-38g/km

This is the latest incarnation of the Mercedes E-Class plug-in hybrid. Treated to a fairly extensive mid-life facelift in 2020 – bringing more technology and fresh styling – it’s still available in petrol (E 300 e EQ Power) or diesel (E 300 de EQ Power) guises, both with a pure-electric range of more than 30 miles.

As is the case with rivals like the BMW 530e, Volvo S90 Recharge and Audi A6 TFSI e, the E 300 e and E 300 de form part of an already-extensive model range and are offered in most of the same trims and bodystyles. The E 300 e petrol is available as a four-door saloon only, while the E 300 de diesel is offered either as a saloon or an estate. The 2020 update dropped the entry-level SE trim across all E-Class models; prices for the hybrids remain competitive, but are several thousand pounds higher than equivalent petrol or diesel models.

In the E 300 e petrol plug-in hybrid, a 2.0-litre engine combines with an electric motor to deliver a total power output of 316bhp, getting the car from 0-62mph in 5.7 seconds. Fully charged, it should go for just over 30 miles on electric power alone, and making the most of that ability could return an average economy well into three figures. But equally, failing to charge up and running on the petrol engine alone could result in sub-40mpg on a full tank.

The E 300 de diesel plug-in is slightly less powerful overall (306bhp) and thus slightly slower to accelerate, but returns economy of 50mpg or more after the batteries are depleted and should be a better choice for those who frequently undertake long-distance motorway journeys beyond the car's pure-electric range.

Recharging either model will take less than two hours from a typical 7kW home wallbox charger, or around five hours if you only have a conventional domestic power socket. Like most plug-in hybrids, there's a slight practicality penalty to pay for the efficient drivetrain: boot space drops by 100 litres compared with the regular E-Class saloon, and there's no proper cable storage either.

Another plug-in hybrid trait present here is that neither model handles quite as sharply as its conventionally powered sibling. Both feel suitably punchy thanks to the shove from the electric motor, but the additional 300kg weight of the hybrid technology means they feel a little less dynamic on a twisty back road.

The chief appeal of the hybrid E-Class models, then, is their rock-bottom company-car tax, courtesy of CO2 emissions of less than 40g/km across the range. They're also just as comfortable and classy inside as their diesel and petrol-engined brethren, and come loaded to the gunwales with all the latest connectivity and technology options. But if it's driving thrills you're looking for, the BMW 5 Series is definitely a better bet.

For a more detailed look at the E-Class petrol and diesel hybrids, check out our experience running one for several months, or read on for the rest of our in-depth review.