It’s rare to find a press demonstrator from a premium car brand as modestly equipped as our C300e. This represented the petrol-electric Mercedes C-Class at its simplest and cheapest (as far as UK sales go, at least). The test car’s only fitted option was metallic paint.
And so to sit in it and still feel like you were in quite a lavishly designed and appointed environment, with all the equipment you would really need included as standard, came as a welcome initial affirmation of the car’s integrity as a modern luxury product.
The C-Class doesn’t stand up to close scrutiny of its on-board comfort and quality levels with quite as much distinction, though it certainly passes muster. You settle into a driver’s seat with plenty of room around it, in front of controls that are adjustable and well placed.
The sports seats aren’t especially comfortable or supportive, though (despite offering extendable cushions), while the margins of the driver’s footwell feel strangely restrictive around your toes, and are marked by disappointingly flimsy plastics.
Most of the cabin’s fittings have a higher-quality solidity of feel, but there are dull and plain mouldings and sharper edges elsewhere, too. Evidence of the odd cut cost, perhaps, that a Mercedes shouldn’t really betray.
The control layout is digitally replete. A 12.3in digital instrument screen immediately ahead of you is quite complex and busy with information at first but usefully versatile in the way it can be configured with practice. Dominating the centre console is a steeply raked 11.9in, portrait-oriented infotainment touchscreen whose bottom section permanently conveys the heating and ventilation controls.