The W206-generation Mercedes C-Class is a transitional car for one of the world’s founding car makers, and yet it remains singularly important. It will be the first C-Class not to offer multi-cylinder combustion engines, for example, but also one of the last new Mercedes models of any series not to be engineered for all-electric power.
Needless to say, that doesn’t mean it won’t be ‘electrified’. In fact, Stuttgart is aiming to attract particular attention, and win some key European fleet business, with the first of two C-Class plug-in hybrid models that it will offer. A diesel-electric PHEV will follow later, but for now, tax-conscious company drivers are tempted with the subject of this week’s road test: the new C300e.
This car fits into a UK model range at a level that makes it pricier than some derivatives, but clearly no range-topping halo model. Its mechanical make-up, which we will explore shortly, will be familiar to existing C300e owners.
There’s a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine in the front of the car coupled with a usefully powerful electric drive motor upstream of the gearbox and, just as before, a drive battery is located under the boot floor. But it’s the energy density of this battery that promises the transformative leap here, which comes in a package that is clearly technologically advanced in some ways but might also represent Mercedes at its laid-back traditional best in other respects.