Currently reading: Autocar awards 2022: Mercedes-Benz C300e wins best hybrid
The C300e proves there's still plenty of life in Mercedes's hybrid offering yet

Even the staunchest critic of EV technology can’t deny how quickly it’s advancing. Nearly a decade ago now, the very first plug-in hybrid executive cars to the UK market came at very high prices.

They offered up to about 30 miles of lab-tested electric-only range, but if you got close to 20 from them, you were doing very well indeed.

Read more on all the Autocar Awards winners here

Electric-only range has since grown steadily, and it has done so while the lab tests judging it have got significantly tougher.

The very latest PHEVs to the market come with electric-only range well in excess of 50 miles and the best of them return almost exactly what’s advertised, at more competitive prices and in as broad a range of bodystyles as any other derivative in the model range.

Our Best Hybrid this year, the new Mercedes-Benz C300e, proves all of that. Priced from just over £46,000, this electrified C-Class costs less today than the first Volvo Volvo V60 PHEV did back in 2013 (there’s one in the eye for our inflationary times); and with just over 25kWh of battery under its boot floor, it has an official electric-only range of up to 68 miles.

That’s enough to grant a benefit-in-kind tax qualification of just 8% for its keeper. And perhaps just as importantly, it does so while leaving enough breathing space for you to add whichever options you want without pushing the electric-only range down a bracket and thereby your tax bill up a big notch.

The C300e comes in both saloon and estate bodystyles and is likely to offer four-wheel drive as well as rear-wheel drive in time. Boot space in the estate isn’t quite what you get in other big-backed C-Class variants, but still it’s good for almost 1400 litres of cargo space when the rear seats are folded down.

Ac awards merc 300e   ww 22   20220329 0170 0

Forward of the boot, meanwhile, passenger space is very respectable. Mercedes’ latest executive models really lead with their digital cabin technology, and the C-Class is no different.

Back to top

A slab-like MBUX infotainment console dominates the forward transmission tunnel, displaying mapping and entertainment data at very high resolution, and it’s voice-controllable if you prefer that approach to touchscreen input.

Elsewhere, the car’s prevailing standard for cabin quality is generally good. In a segment in which many PHEVs struggle to pass 30 miles of real-world range, however, it’s the C300e’s 50-mile showing that’s likely to really sell it.

Mix plenty of motorway miles in with your city and trunk-road driving and you might narrowly stop short of that threshold, but if you do mostly short-range driving, it should easily beat 50 miles before needing to charge (which it can do at a rate of up to 55kW and in less than half an hour via a DC rapid charger).

The C300e also has strong performance and impressive cruising refinement, with particularly good manual energy regenerative braking controls aiding drivability. But it’s what those 50 emission-free miles per day – or quite possibly more – could do for your long-term average fuel economy that will first attract you to this car.

For those with access to cost- effective charging at both home and work, the C300e could achieve a great deal. 

Matt Saunders

Matt Saunders Autocar
Title: Road test editor

As Autocar’s chief car tester and reviewer, it’s Matt’s job to ensure the quality, objectivity, relevance and rigour of the entirety of Autocar’s reviews output, as well contributing a great many detailed road tests, group tests and drive reviews himself.

Matt has been an Autocar staffer since the autumn of 2003, and has been lucky enough to work alongside some of the magazine’s best-known writers and contributors over that time. He served as staff writer, features editor, assistant editor and digital editor, before joining the road test desk in 2011.

Since then he’s driven, measured, lap-timed, figured, and reported on cars as varied as the Bugatti Veyron, Rolls-Royce PhantomTesla RoadsterAriel Hipercar, Tata Nano, McLaren SennaRenault Twizy and Toyota Mirai. Among his wider personal highlights of the job have been covering Sebastien Loeb’s record-breaking run at Pikes Peak in 2013; doing 190mph on derestricted German autobahn in a Brabus Rocket; and driving McLaren’s legendary ‘XP5’ F1 prototype. His own car is a trusty Mazda CX-5.

Add a comment…