What is it?
How will history judge plug-in hybrids once the revolution is complete and we’re all driving zero-emission electric cars? Right now, it already feels they’re a half-way house for those who are motivated to join the EV era, but understandably don’t yet have the confidence in our charging infrastructure.
In other words, this latest hybrid Mercedes-Benz E-Class is a car for the here and now. We know where the future is taking us, but we’re not there yet – and a compromise is what’s needed. Does the c-word sound like a critical verdict? It’s not meant to. It’s just a reflection of the reality this car represents.
The E330e is powered by a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder petrol engine, plus an electric motor that when fully charged via a cable offers a standalone range of around 30 miles. Two cables are provided to charge from a standard three-pin socket in around five hours or via a 7.2kW charger in just an hour and 25 minutes.
There are four modes of operation to choose from: hybrid, E-Mode (electric only), E-Save (engine only) and Charge (engine only, but battery is charged). Some charge is also reclaimed by the powertrain as the driver lifts off, recycling energy to improve efficiency though a combination of (apparently) optimised gear changes and operating temperatures. All clever stuff.