MERCEDES-BENZ OFFERS A NEW KIND OF HYBRID EXPERIENCE WITH C350e PLUG-IN
While most manufacturers try to squeeze as many miles they can out of the batteries of their electric vehicles, Mercedes-Benz has taken a different approach with the C350e.
This plug-in hybrid offers little in the way of electric-only drive, but packs a punch that rivals even AMG-tuned versions of the company’s fleet.
Consider, the 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder engine and electric motor propels the C350e from zero-to-60 mph in just 5.8 seconds, according to Mercedes-Benz clockers.
That’s the same as the C300 that traditionally has serveed as the entry point to the company’s luxury fleet and only 1.2 behind that for the AMG C43.
In fact, at 443 pound-feet (combined gas and electric) the C350e’s torque number is actually better than the 384 lb.-ft. offered by the AMG C43 and not all that short of the 479 the the 4.0-liter, biturbo V8 delivers to the AMG C63.
Plug-in hybrid indeed!
But about that electric-only driving. Though Mercedes-Benz touted a range of up to 20 miles of all-electric driving with the debut of the 2016 C350e, that figure has been tempered in bit. Cut in half, actually.
The spec sheet reports a range of 0-8 miles for the 2018 C350e, which isn’t going to take you far in run silent mode. But mileage ratings for electric-gas combined driving are 51 MPGe and gas-only 30 mpg, and you get a modicum of recharging while driving on gas as well. So it’s not all bad.
For the most part, you get the same classy cabin and features in the C350e that you do in other C-Class models with one notable exception.
The C350e sticks with a 7-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters while the C300 and C300 4MATIC get a new 9-speed tranny.
Among standard equipment included in the 47,900 base MSRP for the C350e or are no-charge items are LED headlights (new for 2018), LED tail lamps, 18-inch wheels, dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth connectivity, power tilt-and-sliding sunroof, rain-sensing windshield wipers, rear-view camera, Collision Prevention Assist Plus that uses radar to monitor vehicles around you, natural grain wood trim, and black fabric headliner.
The outlet to plug in the cord is at the rear bumper, a change from the customary spot up front on most other plug-in vehicles.
Dynamic Select lets you change driving modes to Sport or Sport-plus with Comfort as the default setting by flipping a switch on the console.
Adding such optional items and packages, like leather seating and thigh support for the drive’s seat, navigation with an 8.4-inch high-definition monitor, blind-spot and lane-keeping assist, and cross-traffic assist can run the total price up to $61,785 with the $995 destination and delivery cost included.
Yes, that’s a pretty big jump over the starting price of $40,250 for the C300, a bit more than the base price for the C43, and near the starting price for the C63. But you may be eligible for tax credits that will bring the cost down.
What I liked about the 2018 Mercedes-Benz C350e: This may be the liveliest hybrid on the market today. Throttle response makes you forget you’re driving a hybrid. The cabin is impeccable with high quality materials throughout.
What I didn’t like about the 2018 Mercedes-Benz C350e: The COMAND System for infotainment features, though simplified from the original version, still demands too much of the driver’s attention to perform functions. And the display monitor sticks up in the middle of the dash like a misplaced iPad. Watch your head when getting in, especially on the passenger side.
Would I buy the 2018 Mercedes-Benz C350e? Probably not, because I’m not a fan of plug-in hybrids. The extra $7,000-plus it costs over the base C300 could cause you some hesitation as well, though tax credits for buying a hybrid will cut down on that difference. Other than the drivetrain, the C350e is every bit high in quality as you would expect from the company.