What is it?
The Mercedes C 350 e is another reason to weigh up the advantages of plug-in petrol-electric hybrid power over a conventional diesel engine in your next compact executive saloon.
Those reasons have been mounting of late. Counting the Volkswagen Passat GTE, Volvo V60 D5 Twin Engine, Audi A3 e-tron Sportback and BMW ‘iPerformance’ 330e, there are now plenty of ways for benefit-in-kind tax-paying drivers to combine premium-brand ownership with a sub-50g/km electrified powertrain and end up in a faster and more efficient company car for a similar monthly outlay to that of a mid-range diesel. This youthful niche of the saloon market is now full of cars priced at considerably less than £40,000 in some cases and might even offer value to a private buyer with the right kind of usage in mind.
Like the recently road-tested Passat GTE and unlike the Volvo V60, the C 350 e features an electric motor mounted in line with the combustion engine and upstream of a seven-speed automatic transmission. With only 80bhp of electric power and 6.2kWh of battery storage, the C-Class offers less zero-emission power and range than most of its competitors.
That said, the Merc’s relatively healthy 208bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine makes the C 350 e the only four-door PHEV of its kind capable of a sub-six-second 0-62mph time. So exactly what kind of upper-echelon mid-size Benz is this?