Detroit Motor Show: Mercedes C350 Hybrid

The first plug-in C-Class uses less fuel than a Ford Fiesta

Mercedes-Benz C 350 Hybrid

THE Mercedes-Benz C350 Hybrid has been shown at Detroit and along with all the new C-Class glitz and glam, it claims stunning 2.1L/100km economy.

Undercutting the cleanest BMW 3-Series or most miserly Audi A4, it’s the first four-cylinder hybrid from Mercedes and the first plug-in version of the new C-Class, which is a strong contender for Wheels Car Of The Year (winner announced 21 January).

The C350 takes the C250’s 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder, with the same 155kW/350Nm outputs, and teams it with a 60kW electric motor. Like Mercedes’ E-Class hybrid, the electric motor is cleverly sandwiched between the transmission and the engine, benefitting packaging efficiency, weight, cost and interior space.

Mercedes claims a total output of the system at a healthy 205kW with a whopping 600Nm. That delivers the 2.1L/100km – beating the C300 BlueTec's 4.0L/100km for best in class and even outdoing Ford’s Fiesta – along with an athletic 5.9sec 0-100km/h claim. Parsimonious pace? On paper, this car can claim it.

The downside? The plug-in hybrid can travel only 31km (at best) under electric power, and while it has genuine drivability with an electric-only top speed of 130km/h, it’s still well short of the 50km range offered by the Audi A3 e-tron or even the larger, heavier Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. The battery pack inevitably adds weight – 100kg – but Mercedes says mounting it between the boot and rear seat assists weight distribution and doesn’t cut much load space. Even so, the boot shrinks from 490L to 355L.

If the C300 Hybrid currently in Australian showrooms is anything to go by, the C350 should behave like any other C-Class on the open road, meaning a competent, refined drive with a superb interior. In Europe, It will be offered in sedan and wagon body styles, with air suspension as standard, but it’s still not confirmed for Australian showrooms. If we get it, it’ll cost an estimated $80,000.


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Damion Smy

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