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.
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.
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.