Top of the Class for sales

Mercedes C 300

By Bill McCarthy

Mercedes’ compact executive thoroughbred, the C-Class, is a best seller for a good reason.

Since the current generation was launched in 2014, 2.5 million models have been sold worldwide

It looks the part, offers cutting edge technology and has the sheer desirability and aspirational quality many look for.

The latest version is as slick and stylish as ever and with this plug-in hybrid version, offers a step forward against many of its rivals.

With an electric-only range of around 65 miles, you could ask the question, why go for full electric as the charging infrastructure continues to grow at a snail’s pace? Even when the charge runs out, you still have the petrol engine to deliver power.

While many plug-ins offer around 30 miles, doubling the range here means most journeys can be completed on electric power only

Every engine in the new C-Class is electrified either as a plug-in hybrid or a mild hybrid with 48-volt technology and an integrated starter-generator

The two litre engine is mated with a 128bhp electric motor, powered by a large 25.4kWh battery to deliver rapid pace and brilliant economy. The low CO2 emissions mean low, for now, road tax and the lower end of the Benefit in Kind taxation table.

It has a nominal mpg of 470.8, but true mpg depends on how much you drive on electric only, so is probably nearer to 60-65mpg.

The C-Class model range consists of four equipment levels, including Sport; AMG Line; AMG Line Premium; and AMG Line Premium Plus.

It has a low-slung sleek silhouette, attractive alloys, and elliptical lights either side of the large grille sporting the iconic three-pointed Mercedes star.

It also features AMG front bumper with sporty air intakes and chrome elements

The interior is premium quality with heated and powered leather seats, soft-touch finish, classy inserts, and a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster display.

The centre is dominated by the standard 11.9-inch display which operated the latest generation of the impressive MBUX infotainment system, which has now fully integrated the major music streaming services.

It is also capable of receiving over-the-air updates. As soon as a new update becomes available a message appears in MBUX.

Full smartphone connectivity is available and certain systems can be operated by voice command.

Wireless phone charging is also available

On the road, the car is an impressive performer. The hybrid system is mated with the familiar nine-speed automatic transmission to deliver seamless changes and swift acceleration.

The driver can select a number of modes including Comfort, ECO, Sport, Sport+, Individual and two hybrid-specific modes: Battery Level and Electric, for a choice of performance and economy. Switch to Sport mode and everything sharpens up to deliver an engaging drive.

Otherwise, the car glides along almost silently on electric power, with plenty in reserve with the powerful petrol engine lurking in reserve.

Handling is sharp and the car performs well on twisting country lanes competently, always feeling well-balanced and aided by responsive steering.

Using an 11kW charger, you’ll need two hours for a full charge, which limits the potential for zero-emissions running on longer journeys unless you have that time to spare at a service station. Fast charging capability would make it even more attractive.

The large batter. means boot space is reduced on the hybrid to 315 litres, which is not a huge amount in its class.

Mercedes has a reputation for safety and equipment is extensive with a full range of airbags, Blind Spot Assist; rear view camera and a host of other aids.

Factfile

Mercedes C 300 e AMG Line Saloon

Price: £44,895

Mechanical: Combined 205hp 1,999cc, 4cyl petrol engine and electric motor driving rear wheels via 9-speed auto gearbox

Max speed: 152mph

0-62mph: 6.1 seconds

Combined mpg: 470.8

CO2 emissions: 13g/km

Warranty: 3yrs/100,000 miles

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