3.11.2021Mercedes Benz C300e review
A new Mercedes Benz C-Class has brought about a new version of its popular petrol plug-in hybrid - the C300e. Promising a longer electric driving range and more performance, the we review the latest PHEV with an early test of a left-hand drive model in the UK.
Review by Chris Lilly
MERCEDES BENZ C 300 E: PERFORMANCE
The next-generation C 300 e uses a 2.0 litre petrol engine and electric motor, for a combined 230 kW (313 hp). The engine provides 204 hp, with the electric motor contributing 95 kW (129 hp) to the mix. A combined 440 Nm of torque helps get the Mercedes Benz from 0-62mph in 6.1 seconds, with a top speed of 152 mph possible. The C 300 e certainly looks no slouch then.
That impression translates well to the road, with flexible and impressive performance available from a car that isn’t a performance-orientated model. The electric motor is more than up to the task of getting the C 300 e about the place most of the time, with the engine/motor combination packing quite the punch when pushing on. A range of driving modes help the driver get the best of the system - both in terms of Eco/Sport and electric driving set-ups. It’s responsive, refined, and typically Mercedes.
Although a quick car, the C 300 e does not handle like one - nor should buyers expect it to. The C-Class range is at the comfortable end of the premium saloon spectrum, and despite a range of features to stiffen up the suspension and sharpen turn-in on the test car, the C 300 e isn’t what you’d call dynamic.
I wouldn’t want to portray the Mercedes as being a car that wallows about the place; far from it. The steering is precise and well weighted, and the car can be hustled at pace along a twisty road. It’s simply that the Mercedes’ more natural habitat is covering huge distances very comfortably on the motorway, and it is here that the C 300 e shines.
Although certainly an evolution rather than revolution in design, the C-Class looks sharper and more stylish than ever. It’s also larger than before, which translated into more occupant space; even those in the rear have excellent levels of leg, head, and shoulder space.
The boot is not particularly deep but goes back a fair distance. There’s also no huge step with the battery plonked in the load area as there was with the previous model - instead it’s been incorporated into the platform better.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
If the exterior’s tweaks are relatively subtle, the interior sees far more significant changes. Chief amongst these is the use of Mercedes Benz’s latest touchscreen MBUX infotainment system, launched on the flagship S-Class, but following up with the C-Class range. It’s a superb example, with a large screen, a suite of easy to access menus, quick responses, crisp graphics, and information galore - plus the ability to just ignore it and run simple displays for less distraction.
The rest of the interior is equally impressive, with great quality materials used, switchgear that looks and feels nice, and comfortable seats. It’s a masterclass in comfort and technology.
MERCEDES BENZ C 300 E: RANGE & RUNNING COSTS
If the interior’s changes are slight, and the interior’s changes a little more noticeable, it is under the skin that the real improvements have been made - particularly to the electrical systems. Now fitted with a 25 kWh battery, the electric-only range has been improved to 62 miles according to official figures, allowing for 14 g/km and 404 MPG economy figures - company car drivers will appreciate the 7% BIK rate too.
In real world driving, the C 300 e performs very well, with 55 miles available on a charge according to my calculations, based on a mixture of routes around Bedfordshire. In fact, the hour and a half I had with the car could have entirely been covered in electric drive alone, so I had to manually put it into hybrid to test the engine for a bit.
The suite of electric assistance systems on the C 300 e is as impressive as any pure-EV. DC charging is possible at up to 55 kW, for a sub-half hour top-up, though more commonly, the 11 kW AC on-board charger will be put to use for recharge in less than four hours from a 7 kW unit.
There are varying, selectable levels of brake energy recuperation, which the steering wheel paddles control when in electric mode (these change gears when the engine’s in use), with a coast, normal, and two levels of stronger regen. Auto is also available using the radar, and should a destination be put in the navigation, the car will take account of terrain as well as traffic. There is a wealth of information available as to how much you are driving in electric, plus driver coaching information to make the most of the EV systems.
The model tested was in AMG Line specification, which adds sportier styling features over ‘standard’ C Class models. It also includes drive mode select, sports suspension, 18-inch alloys, keyless go, AMG multi-function steering wheel, heated front seats, leather upholstery, parking package with reversing camera, 11.9-inch touchscreen system with fingerprint sensor, smartphone integration, and premium navigation, as well as a 12.3-inch digital driver’s display.
The test vehicle had features such as matte grey paint, a head-up display, driving assistance package, and 360-degree camera with dynamic visualisation.
MERCEDES BENZ C 300 E: MODEL SUMMARY
As an executive saloon, the C-Class looks a quality proposition, with all the comfort and refinement you would expect from a Mercedes. Add in the excellent and versatile electric powertrain and the C 300 e is surely going to be a popular pick in the model range.
Model tested: Mercedes Benz C 300 e AMG Line
Body-style: Executive saloon
Engine / CO2: 2.0 petrol engine and electric motor / 14 g/km
Trim grades: AMG Line, AMG Line Premium, and AMG Line Premium Plus (expected)
On-road price: TBC
Warranty: Three years / unlimited mileage
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 4 Stars