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First drive: Mercedes-Benz C 300 BlueTec Hybrid. Image by Mercedes-Benz.

First drive: Mercedes-Benz C 300 BlueTec Hybrid
Diesel and electric combine in Mercedes' new C-Class, for a tax-busting, eco-friendly premium saloon.

   



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Mercedes-Benz C 300 BlueTec Hybrid

4 4 4 4 4

Like all other C-Class models, the C 300 BlueTec Hybrid is not the sharpest thing to drive, but it does offer a wonderfully refined drivetrain, with near seamless switching between electric and parallel modes the highlight.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Mercedes-Benz C 300 BlueTec Hybrid
Pricing: 38,120 for AMG Line model; car as tested 46,015
Engine: 2.1-litre twin-turbocharged diesel with electric motor
Transmission: rear-wheel drive, 7G-Tronic Plus seven-speed automatic
Body style: four-door saloon
CO2 emissions: 99g/km as AMG Line (Band A, 0 annually)
Combined economy: 78.5mpg
Top speed: 152mph
0-62mph: 6.4 seconds
Power: 204hp at 3,800rpm plus 27hp from electric motor
Torque: 500Nm at 1,600- to 1,800rpm

What's this?

A new Mercedes-Benz C-Class with a diesel-electric drivetrain. It's quite a 'mild' hybrid, with the 27hp electric motor providing torque fill at low revs and occasional full electric running to eke out the diesel reserves in the tank... and, perhaps more pertinently, to get CO2 emissions below the magic 100g/km barrier. You can't use it for extended EV driving, then, with the conventional engine cutting in pretty much anywhere above 20mph, but it does prove useful on open roads, which we'll come to later.

Essentially, aside from some badging, you won't spot a hybrid C-Class from a normal diesel at distance, which is no bad thing. The W205 is very striking, with more than an air of shrunken S-Class about it, but if there's one detail that's a bit iffy, it's the way the rear windscreen segues into the boot lid from a rear three-quarter view; it looks a touch awkward and truncated to my eyes. This is why, as with so many saloons, the estate version is the prettier, and therefore preferable, model.

The interior is excellent, with again little to distinguish the hybrid from its normal siblings. Mercedes is determined to use a column-shift so it can leave the centre console free for the Comand infotainment controls, but there are other idiosyncratic ergonomics as a result, including quite a few stalks in close proximity to each other on the left-hand side of the steering wheel. However, the quality and general appearance of the C 300's cabin is beyond reproach and it's also a comfortable, spacious place to be.

How does it drive?

Excellently, especially the way it changes from EV running to hybrid mode. It is near undetectable, the 2.1-litre turbodiesel turning on or switching off with next to no clatter or vibration. Indeed, this high-powered diesel engine can be quite noisy in other CDI Mercs, but here it seems nicely subdued. The best bit is when you're out on an open road and you back off the throttle; then, the diesel dies away and the car coasts along on electric power alone. At 60mph, this is hugely impressive and the way the 2.1 comes back online when you need it is even more dumbfounding. It's one of the silkiest hybrids we've tried.

The rest of the C-Class experience is fairly conventional and not that scintillating. This generation of the model was designed to be a more comfort-oriented car than BMW's 3 Series, which means it isn't as sharp a drive. That's as maybe, but opting for AMG Line spec doesn't make it that nice a ride, either. It picks up quite a few lumps and bumps on its bigger alloys, which get transmitted into the cabin. Also, the C 300 carries a 120kg weight penalty over an equivalent-spec C 250 BlueTec, the next model down the chain. That extra ballast seems to affect the C 300, altering its body control to the detriment of comfort. The car's not dreadful by any means, of course, and the rest of the package - well weighted steering, good, positive brakes and that super-slick 7G-Tronic transmission - ensures that there's enough competence here to make you consider buying a C-Class, if perhaps not ticking the AMG Line option when ordering.

Finally, we didn't have a really long journey behind the wheel to verify that official 78.5mpg, but it looked like it would be hard to achieve, even if you drove like a saint. However, economy seemed reasonably high for something capable of 0-62mph in 6.4 seconds and 152mph. On the performance front, the C 300 is plenty powerful enough for most day-to-day needs.

Verdict

It's a great car, the C 300, and a clever way of turning what would otherwise be an unremarkable diesel into a machine that generates a bit of buzz. It is truly superb at switching between EV and hybrid running, the eerie way the rev counter keeps dropping to 0rpm at 60mph on a trailing throttle something to behold. But the dynamics are merely above average and AMG Line trim spoils the C-Class' otherwise exemplary ride. You'd be better off sticking with an SE or Sport model instead.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Comfort

4 4 4 4 4 Driving Dynamics

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 26 Nov 2014



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2014 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2014 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2014 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2014 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2014 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2014 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2014 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2014 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 

2014 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Image by Mercedes-Benz.
 






 

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