From £35,2058
Latest E-Class hybrid attempts to offer best of both worlds, with claimed 30 miles of electric-only range

Our Verdict

Mercedes-Benz E-Class

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class comes with fine engines and a typically laid-back dynamic character. Not one for the interested driver, but a good advert for being disinterested.

Damien Smith
20 May 2019
Mercedes-Benz E-Class E300e 2019 UK

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.

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

Inside, the cabin offers the plush comfort one would expect of Mercedes' AMG Line status. On our test car, the black Artico/Dinamica upholstery was enhanced by attractive open-pore ash wood trim stretching across the dash and around the doors, in which stylish metallic Burmester speakers (for the optioned 590-watt sound system) catch the eye as well as the ear. Infotainment comes via a 12.3in colour display with Merc’s optioned Comand system operated by an easy-to-use control wheel.

The seats are figure-hugging but comfy, even if your girth is more ‘challenging’ than you’d like. The rear bench is ample in leg room, although strictly for two adults despite the provision of a middle seatbelt.

What's it like?

There’s little sign of compromise on motorways and A-roads, as the E330e offers the refined ride, aurally muted and smooth cruising one would expect of a premium car sold at a premium price. Push it into Sport+ mode and on a good old British B-road some of that composure is inevitably lost. It didn’t react well, bouncing through the ruts and disgruntling the passengers…

The interchange between engine power and hybrid assistance is seamless, again as you’d expect, while step-off is smooth and, when treated gently, almost silent. As the 0-62mph figure of 5.7sec suggests, acceleration is brisk, but it doesn’t particularly feel it, especially in Economy and Comfort mode. The extra weight of the electric motor and 7.2kW battery is surely a factor here, as it is if you choose to corner enthusiastically. Such is the inevitability of compromise.

Our test car's £1695 driving assistance package included active braking, distance, steering and speed limit assist, lane-changing and lane-keeping assist and more – but happily didn’t leave us ‘assisted out’. The car still allows you to drive it, and the safety features – surely welcome if transporting a family – avoided becoming invasive.

And economy? The still somewhat-fantastical WLTP figures of such cars give little relation to the real-world experience, but when efficiency is a key selling point, a real-world figure of 37mpg during a Saturday afternoon 90-minute family round-trip into Sussex might not be as frugal as you’d expect.

Should I buy one?

The question you find yourself asking about such cars is how often owners bother to plug them in to charge when it’s not a necessity. The answer probably comes down to why they bought it in the first place and for what purpose. If it’s to pound the motorways day to day, 30 miles of electric-only range is pretty irrelevant. But if your E-Class will be running errands around town and doing the school run, the EV transformation absolutely makes sense.

Notably, despite its obvious size, the E300e is easy to manoeuvre and park – and just as significantly it’s ULEZ-friendly: no emissions charge to you if you own one in central London, then.

Strange to think such a grand, executive cruiser should be judged as the perfect family-friendly city car. Compromise has its benefits after all.

Mercedes-Benz E300e AMG Line specification

Where Surrey Price ££49,945 (as tested: £56,930) On sale Now Engine 4 cyls in line, 1991cc, petrol plus electric motor Power 211bhp at 5500rpm, electric motor 122bhp Torque 258lb ft at 1200-4000rpm, electric motor 325lb ft Gearbox 9-spd automaticKerb weight 1985kg Top speed 155mph (limited) 0-62mph 5.7sec Fuel economy 156.9-134.5mpg CO2 46g/km, 16% Rivals BMW 530e iPerformance, Audi A6 TFSI e

Join the debate

Comments
12

20 May 2019

So to private12k miles pa buyers living outside London and other cities how many years, at a guess, will it take to pay for itself compared to a 'normal' 2.0 4 pot e class, 5,6,7 years?

20 May 2019

Actually in London the ULEZ isn't the benefit - I have a 2002 petrol Focus which meets the emisions standards - it's the discount on the Congestion Charge which is the big benefit of such vehicles.

20 May 2019

£50k for a 2.0 four?  Get lost.

20 May 2019
eseaton wrote:

£50k for a 2.0 four?  Get lost.

 

Given the state of the world, not terribly surprising that a comment such as this one, is posted. When people can have children and not need to pass a rudimentary test of parenthood, this is what can result. Before I responded to your...post, who is your get lost comment aimed at?.

21 May 2019
Takeitslowly wrote:

eseaton wrote:

£50k for a 2.0 four?  Get lost.

 

Given the state of the world, not terribly surprising that a comment such as this one, is posted. When people can have children and not need to pass a rudimentary test of parenthood, this is what can result. Before I responded to your...post, who is your get lost comment aimed at?.

It sucks to have you back.

20 May 2019

I totally see how alot of these plug in hybrids will be brought as some company car tax fiddle but its when all those company cars get on to the second hand market that it really benefits as you can pretty much garentee that when its coming out of the owners pocket people who buy them will plug them in when ever they can. So let the companies take the hit and everyone gets a good second hand buy.

20 May 2019

Perhaps the 590 watt sound system should be the first thing to be deleted. These Vehicles are ridiculous just so people can avoid the ULEZ and certain diesel taxation, 15 years ago it was diesel that was the taxman avoidance scheme, now it's a 4cylinder petrol and a 13 amp plug. I'm not doing business so my ULEZ compliant E39 will have to do me for now. The "patsy" with the 5-7 year old diesel is right up the proverbial creek as per usual.

20 May 2019

Who is this Damien Smith ? And why is he talking about impossible things like "zero emission electric cars" ?

20 May 2019

Nothing agaisnt hybrids, but why dont the manufacturers make them so that the electric motor assists the ICE at times when its less efficient (pulling away, accelerating etc), that would bring real performance AND efficiency gains and would encourage more people to plug them in.

20 May 2019

the mercedes-benz E300 like how many E's do you want sounds like you have a stutter when you say it, but apart from that this seems like a good car, very good tech for one.

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week