Amid the hubbub created by the launch of the latest AMGs – the standalone GT 4dr Coupé and the new G63 - you could be forgiven for not noticing a rather demure-looking Mercedes-Benz C-Class saloon on the Mercedes-Benz Geneva show stand.

Indeed, you might not realise there was anything different about it at all, unless you went round the back and saw that it was badged 300de. Is that for Deutschland, perhaps? It is not; it stands for ‘diesel electric.’

Mercedes’ solution to the crisis facing diesel cars is not to expunge them from its ranges but to use technology to adapt them so that their shortcomings are effectively ameliorated. And that means not just a diesel hybrid – for such things have been made before and by Mercedes, among others – but a plug-in diesel hybrid.

Volkswagen boss: German city diesel ban is 'scary and unnecessary'

Here, the distinction is critical. Because what’s killing diesel now is no longer dishonest Volkswagen emissions engineers in the US but the perception that, in and around town, diesels are toxic and poisoning our children. Now, there are plenty of more reputable engineers who’ll tell you that’s twaddle and that the latest diesels are very clean machines indeed; but their voices are but a polite cough against an ocean of political grandstanding and wilful misrepresentation in the mainstream media.

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But what if your diesel didn’t run on diesel in town but zero-emissions electricity? Would that not offer the best of both worlds –diesel range, torque and fuel consumption and super-low CO2 on long runs, without adding so much of a particle of soot to the city limits? That would indeed be hard to argue against.