by Adam Lynton
The C-Class sedan may have faltered every now and then over the years but it has generally offered luxurious and comfortable transport at the premium end of the market. The latest generation is one of the best and a wide range of engine options offer a level of versatility that should suit most needs. The C350e Plug-in Hybrid is a very recent addition and currently the only hybrid sedan in the range, it promises the usual benefits of strong performance without the accompanying fuel bills. 2018 models get some additional standard features and a reshuffling of available options.
2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Plug-in Hybrid
The C350e features the same interior as the rest of the range and there is little to complain about when it comes to the quality levels. The familiar center console can be a magnet for greasy fingerprints when finished in piano black but such is the competence of the package that this is about all that is wrong with the layout.
There is plenty of space for larger adults up front and the rear seats are commodious enough for the bigger members of your family too. The trunk is only marginally smaller and is not unduly affected by the additional hybrid drivetrain components so there is still offers plenty of cargo space.
There is a sportier edge to the current C-Class that was absent in the previous generation cars and the C350e retains the sharp handling feel. It does feel heavier but most of the additional weight is concentrated low down so the center of gravity is similar.
This model also gets air suspension which makes a big difference in the ride quality. It responds well to commands from the driver and the even though the standard alloys are slightly larger, the ride is smooth over most surfaces.
The C350e comes with a 208 horsepower, 258 lb-ft of torque 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that is accompanied by an electric motor to offer a total of 275 horsepower 443 lb-ft of torque. A 7-speed automatic transmission is used (the rest of the C-Class range now have 9-speed units) and this version is rear-wheel drive only.
With a claimed 0-60 mph time of 5.8-seconds, the C350e matches the gas-only C300 although it offers stronger overtaking acceleration thanks to the electric motor's immediate torque delivery. It can also drive for short distances, up to 20 miles if you drive like Miss Daisy, and the fuel economy figures should be better too.
Base specification levels include a rearview camera, power front seats with driver memory, 7-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth and USB connectivity, auto wipers, keyless-start, dual-zone climate control, split-folding rear seats and 18-inch wheels. Safety systems include collision prevention plus and attention assist.
There are numerous standalone options as well as packages to choose from. The Plug-in Hybrid Driver Assistance Package offers active blind spot assist, lane and speed limit assist, Distronic plus with steering assist and enhanced radar-based regenerative braking. While the Advanced Lighting Package adds active LED headlamps, adaptive high beams and, somewhat less useful AMG illuminated side sills.
The Smartphone Integration Package also adds Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.
The Intelligent Hybrid Navigation and Multimedia Package adds an 8.4-inch touchscreen with navigation, touchpad controller and voice control as well as route-based battery optimization.
A massive range of additional customizability is available too and includes paint colors, interior trim options as well as leather upholstery, upgraded wheels, LED exterior lighting, Burmester surround audio system and a head-up display.
The accomplished mid-sized C-Class sedan expands its offering with the Plug-in Hybrid C350e, a car that offers a useful consumption benefit over the base gas-powered models with few of the usual hybrid pitfalls.
Factoring in incentives and rebates, the pricing can be competitive too and with the usual range of cutting-edge technology and luxury extras on offer, this hybrid may make sense to a lot of shoppers.