Even though they did not enjoy a significant success, Mercedes-Benz has done a marvelous job with hybrids in the recent years. In 2014, it unveiled the S500 hybrid model that was then considered the luxury vehicle with the lowest fuel consumption and this trend has continued into the next years.
At the center of our focus in this article is the model that the automaker has introduced last year at the North American International Auto Show, C350 Plug-in Hybrid.
It will be one of the most impressive plug-ins on the modern market because it is everything we would expect from a C-class plus it provides the efficiency of the most advanced hybrid technology to date.
The model is a four-door sedan that slots into the automaker’s line-up below AMG variants but above the C300 and C400. The body of C350 is all about luxury and prestige, which is expected from C-class.
The hybrid’s exterior retains most of the regular class’s styling element with just a few noticeable differences.
They are some minor aerodynamic improvements throughout the body and an electric socket cap on the rear-right corner of the vehicle. The length, width, and height of the vehicle are 184,4, 71,2, and 56,7 inch respectively.
Given that C-Class consists of small cars, the space for the back seats is considered just adequate in terms of legroom, while the front passenger and the driver enjoy spacious seats.
To make the room for the battery, the designers had to decrease the trunk capacity from 12.6 cubic feet to 11.8 cubic feet if compared with gasoline-powered C-class vehicles. The design of the cabin is upscale, with all elements completed from high-quality materials.
The instrument cluster has been carried from the conventional C-class with some minor changes. The new noticeable elements are the energy-flow screen and small eco meter that inform the driver of the performance of the vehicle.
Powertrain and Performance
While quite comfortable and sleek, the model does not sacrifice on power and performance. The vehicle’s gas engine is a 1.9-liter four-cylinder unit which is coupled with the improved version of the 7G-Tronic automatic gearbox. It is capable of producing 280 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque.
The gearbox, by the way, has a number of modes, including Individual, Sport, Sport+, and Economy, and Comfort, which contributes to advanced control over the driving and in combination with engine modes are perfect for adjusting the performance.
As for the second engine, it gets its power from the externally-rechargeable battery pack that is located on top of the rear axle. This unit produces 80 hp for driving in the electric mode. A battery pack is a liquid-cooled unit that weighs 200 pounds with the output capacity of 6.2 kilowatt-hours.
According to the manufacturer, up to two hours may be required to fully recharge the battery, which is more than reasonable. The battery comes housed in a steel cradle for added safety and the range is estimated at just 20 miles but if you have an access to charging source you can eliminate the need to refuel the vehicle at all.
Also, the automaker provides the owner with the function of battery charge status through the Internet connection. The vehicle reclaims some energy during braking and coasting. Of course, this does not apply to long trips but if you need the car to commute to work, this is a good option.
By the way, there are four engine modes available: Hybrid, E-mode, E-save, and Charge. The first respective mode can be all-electric, all-gas, or whatever combination provides the greatest efficiency.
Next, E-mode provides only electric driving until the battery power runs out while E-save model relies on the gasoline-powered unit with little or no assistance from the electric motor. The final mode, Charge, switches the combustion engine on but some amount of the fuel is consumed to recharge the battery pack. Here, the electric operation is not available as well.
The top speed of the vehicle is 250 km per hour while the acceleration to 60 miles per hour will take less than six seconds.
The E-mode is the first one that the vehicle starts with. It is completely silent because the gas unit is inactive. The drive is free to use the electric, internal combustion or a combination of gas and electric engine, which means that C350 will be a pretty fast car that provides enjoyable driving experience.
Unfortunately, we do not have the safety rank-related information about the model but we can certainly speculate over the basic features.
Given that the traditional C-class vehicles come standard with collision prevention system, automatic braking system, lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, cruise control, and pedestrian detection, it is safe to assume that they will be included on the hybrid version as well.
Also, some more advanced safety features from the E- and S-class will be available as optional for the customers of C350.
2016 Mercedes Benz C350 Plug-in Hybrid Price
The starting price for the model is $46,410, including destination charges.
The segment of plug-in hybrids continues to grow. C350 will be a fierce competitor there because it has a decent electric range, great design, and luxury written all over it.
Moreover, the variety of engine and transmission modes and control over efficiency and driving feel will make each trip a very enjoyable experience for the driver. The only disadvantages that we can point to are the small luggage compartment and a high price.
This is the vehicle that can disrupt the traditional outcome pattern for European automakers that sell their hybrids. At this point, this technology is doing great only for Toyota because all European-based companies failed.
For example, the Audi A6 Hybrid sold only 4000 units around the world and never made it to the North American market. Because of the fact that there are not many alternatives in the segment and your interest is the compact luxury hybrid sedan, this one is definitely worth the wait.