The Mercedes-Benz C 300 e Plug-in Hybrid Estate offers an official electric driving range of up to 34 miles, along with economy of up to 176.6mpg; did we get close to these figures during our week-long test?
We’ve all got to move to a world where cars are electric; if you’re not ready, or if there’s no fully electric car on the market for you yet, then a plug-in hybrid can be a stepping-stone, giving you electric power for short journeys, with petrol power for longer trips, and if you also want an estate and a Mercedes badge, then the latest Mercedes-Benz C 300 e Estate is now available.
The Mercedes-Benz C 300 e Estate has a 2.0-litre petrol engine and a 122hp/440Nm electric motor powered by a 13.5 kWh battery, with a 9G-TRONIC PLUS nine-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive.
Many people may aspire to own a Mercedes Estate, but if you’re looking for the normal amount of space that traditionally comes with an estate, you’re going to be disappointed, because there’s a large box in the boot containing the battery, leaving only 315 litres for luggage.
If you choose to drive the C 300 e on electric power then you’ll enjoy the normal refinement and smooth acceleration that electric powertrains deliver. However before you can do that, you’ll have to find the button to select electric drive mode: the button is hidden behind the controller for the infotainment system. If you don’t override the default setting then you’ll be driving around in hybrid mode rather than electric. You can also select ‘esave’ or ‘charge’ mode.
There are also drive modes of Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual. Our test took place when the average temperature was zero degrees. The C 300 e is rear-wheel drive and it wasn’t fitted with winter or all-season tyres, so selecting Sport+ was certainly entertaining with very little grip from the rear tyres on cold and damp roads.
In normal Mercedes fashion, the gear selector is positioned on the right-hand side of the steering column, and there are steering wheel-mounted paddles. However you can’t actually change gear fully manually apart from being able to override the system for short periods using the paddles. There are nine gears, but be aware that Sport mode will hold the car in eighth gear, which isn’t great for economy. There’s also no way to increase the level of brake regeneration.
There’s no instant response to accelerator inputs; there’s a slight delay, then the revs quickly build up (this is especially the case in reverse), and it feels like the car is frequently searching around for the right gear/the right powertrain. If you do drive progressively in Sport mode, the 2-litre petrol engine can sound strained at high revs.
Our test car was fitted with 19-inch alloy wheels and very low profile tyres. Although the ride quality on motorways was good – presumably helped by the AIRMATIC air suspension with Adaptive Damping System – having such low profile tyres didn’t help with the ride quality when faced with the multitude of potholes and speed humps in suburban Manchester.
The C 300 e interior is virtually identical to that of most other Mercedes C-Class models, ie. shiny, with lots of buttons. It’s quite complex, and there’s a lot of technology, and we wonder if all C-Class drivers will know how to operate all of this technology.
There’s a large central touchscreen and a digital instrument display. There are a lot of colours in the instrument display, to the extent that if you’re driving at night it can be difficult to see the blue light signifying the high beam for the headlights amongst all the other colours on the display.
The Mercedes-Benz C 300 e Estate has an official electric range of 34 miles. As mentioned previously, the average temperature was zero degrees during our test. We’re assuming that this was responsible for the average real-world range over the week of our test being 16 miles (with around 400 miles of range in total with the petrol engine).
The shorter-than-advertised electric range was also probably responsible for disappointing overall economy. The C 300 e Estate’s official combined fuel economy figure is 176.6-148.7mpg, however after a week of mixed driving (at zero degrees) we averaged 31.0mpg.
Mercedes quotes a charging time of 1 hour 30 minutes for a full recharge via the 7.2 kW on-board charger at a wallbox, or 5 hours from a domestic socket.
The Mercedes-Benz C 300 e AMG Line Night Edition Premium Plus Estate costs £48,564. Options fitted to our test car were driving assistance package (£1,695) and ‘designo hyacinth’ red metallic paint (£895), taking the price as tested to £51,154.
Many company car drivers will be tempted by plug-in hybrids because of the low benefit in kind rate – 10% BIK for the C 300 e.
Many people want to be driving a car with a Mercedes badge. And now they can have a C-Class Estate with electric capability. However before they take the plunge and sign on the dotted line, they should be aware that the C 300 e Estate has its boot space reduced by a large battery, the electric driving range (in the middle of winter) was significantly lower than advertised, as was the fuel economy. The car wasn’t 100% instantly responsive, and it often seemed to be searching around for the correct gear or powertrain. And at almost £50,000, this isn’t a cheap car. As a result of all this the Mercedes-Benz C 300 e AMG Line Night Edition Premium Plus Estate gains a Green Car Guide rating of 7 out of 10. We’d recommend going all-electric with the Mercedes-Benz EQC.