All this electrification talk may seem like a recent development, but it’s been going on for years. Take the current Mercedes C-Class, which has had up-to-the-minute hybrid and plug-in hybrid alternatives in both petrol and diesel forms throughout its run that used buyers can now take advantage of for as little as £9000.
The diesel engine range starts with a 136bhp 1.6-litre in the C200d that has enough poke for most, but the 170bhp 2.1-litre C220d feels a little livelier and comes close to matching the smaller engine for economy and CO2 emissions. The thirstier 204bhp 2.1-litre C250d, while admirably brisk, is harder to recommend, as is the later 245bhp 2.0-litre C300d.
Petrol cars kick off with the 156bhp 1.6-litre C180. Then there’s a 184bhp 2.0-litre C200, which is a refined and adequate performer. A 258bhp 2.0-litre C300 was later added to fill the gap between the top-performing 390bhp 3.0-litre C43 and 476bhp (or 503bhp S version) 4.0-litre C63 AMG models that put sheer pace and agility above any considerations of comfort and economy.
Fuel economy is best served by the C350e petrol-electric plug-in hybrid, C300h diesel-electric hybrid or C300de diesel-electric plug-in hybrid. However, you’ll need to regularly charge the batteries of the plug-ins to get near their headline figures.
Opt for entry-level SE trim and you get 16in alloy wheels, automatic wipers, cruise control, a reversing camera and Mercedes’ Collision Prevention Assist Plus system fitted as standard. Inside, there’s a 7.0in infotainment system with DAB radio and electric seat height and backrest adjustment for those at the front.
SE Executive brings heated front seats, Garmin-powered sat-nav, front and rear parking sensors and 17in alloys. Sport models get LED headlights, lowered suspension, electrically folding and dimming mirrors and leather sports seats.