Finally, there is the price: the same E-Class without the hybrid drive will cost £5000 less than this one, and you would have to travel a very large number of miles using electric power only to recoup the deficit.
Of course, what such hard facts fail to reveal is that the E-Class when powered only by electricity is a fabulously quiet and comfortable way of going about your business. Compared with Mercedes’ previous diesel, the motor under this bonnet is actually fairly refined, but so quiet is the car in electric mode that it still comes as something of a shock when the conventional engine cuts in.
Moreover, you find yourself trying to drive as frugally as possible to extend the electric range as far as you can. So far I have managed to cover 24 miles on a single charge, which is the most the car has indicated when I have climbed aboard.
The other positive side effect of the hybrid drive is that it turns this four-cylinder diesel estate into an unlikely performer. This is not the kind of car you expect to go burning up the road in but, with the combined efforts of both the electric motor and the internal combustion engine, it is capable of a genuinely surprisingly turn of speed, especially considering its mass.
There is much that will be learned over the months to come but, as a person lucky to have off-street parking and who does many small journeys and many long journeys, if anyone can prove the point of this car, I expect it will be someone like me. The early signs are good and I look forward to each journey, particularly if I think I have a chance of completing it all on electricity alone. I have also become a zealous home charger: if your battery pack is not kept charged, it becomes worse than useless – and in the most literal sense.
I’ve only had to fill the car once so far, which revealed it sipped diesel at 68.8mpg, a figure we calculated based on the fuel I’ve put in, not taken from the trip computer. If it can maintain or improve on that, this Mercedes-Benz E300de will start to make its case on the number of journeys it can complete between filling stations alone.
Despite diesel’s bad press and falling sales of oil-burners over recent years, Mercedes-Benz’s CEO claims sales of its diesel cars are recovering again. So the E300de could have been launched at the right moment. Aside from the mpg and tax benefits for company cars, the E300de also appeals because, with some charge in the battery, it’s smoother, quieter and kinder to the local environmentin town driving than a standard oilburner. The performance benefits are welcome, too, and it’s noticeably punchier than an E220d.
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Mercedes-Benz E300DE EQ Power SE Estate specification
Specs: Price New £49,700 Price as tested £58,115 Options Cavansite Blue metallic paint £685, privacy glass £345, premium equipment pack £2395, Driving Assistance Plus pack £1695, comfort pack £3295
Test Data: Engine 1950cc, 4cyls, turbo, diesel, plus electric motor Power 302bhp at 3800rpm Torque 516lb ft at 1200-2800rpm Kerb weight 2060kg Top speed 155mph 0-62mph 5.9sec Fuel economy 201.8mpg CO2 no WLTP data Faults None Expenses None