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Driven: Mercedes-Benz E 300 e 2021MY. Image by Mercedes.

Driven: Mercedes-Benz E 300 e 2021MY
Elegant manners all round from the facelifted Mercedes E-Class petrol-electric plug-in hybrid.

   



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Mercedes-Benz E 300 e 2021MY

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

Good points: impressive drivetrain, sublime interior, amazing refinement, surprisingly economical even if you don't charge it

Not so good: expensive, not the sharpest in the corners, are the exterior looks a bit derivative of other Mercs?

Key Facts

Model tested: Mercedes-Benz E 300 e AMG Line Night Edition Premium Plus
Price: E-Class range from 39,760; E 300 e AMG Line Night Edition Premium Plus from 55,040, car as tested 57,630
Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol plus 90kW electric motor and 13.5kWh lithium-ion battery pack
Transmission: nine-speed 9G-Tronic Plus automatic, rear-wheel drive
Body style: four-door plug-in hybrid executive saloon
CO2 emissions: 37g/km (VED Band 1-50 Alternative Fuel Cars: 0 in year one, then 480 per annum years two-six of ownership, then 145 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: petrol 176.6mpg, electric 16.1kWh/62.1 miles
Electric range and charging: 33-34 miles EV range on a single charge; onboard max charging capacity 7.2kW, 100 per cent charge on domestic socket in five hours or on a domestic wallbox 1.5 hours
Top speed: 155mph
0-62mph: 5.7 seconds
Power: petrol 211hp at 5,500rpm, electric 122hp at 2,000rpm, combined system maximum output 320hp
Torque: petrol 350Nm at 1,600-4,000rpm, electric 440Nm, no combined system maximum output quoted
Boot space: 400 litres

Our view:

Isn't it clever how some quite modest facelifts can, if done well, serve to make an extant model of car look a whole lot newer than it was before? Take this updated 'W213', for instance, which was given a makeover in 2020. Compared to the pre-facelift version, the latest Merc looks much more up-to-date. It's mainly to do with the wider lamp clusters at the rear of the car, which now bleed into the bootlid, but a slightly sharper face and other tidying touches to the styling really do crisp up the E-Class' form. Admittedly, it's quite a generic shape and it looks a lot like the other saloons sold by Mercedes-Benz at the moment, but no one could argue that the E-Class is ugly. And the cabin is magnificent. There's a new double-spoke steering wheel, which is a real pleasure to look at and operate, while the twin screens of the majestic Widescreen Cockpit and open-pore ash wood trim in its silvery finish help to make this cabin feel suitably luxurious and prestigious.

The updated W213 we're testing here has the long and somewhat cumbersome name of the E 300 e AMG Line Night Edition Premium Plus, but we can boil that down to simply saying it's a petrol-electric plug-in hybrid (PHEV) derivative with some natty styling, some gorgeous front seats with that distinctive leather patterning, and a fairly robust price tag of 55 grand basic and 57,630 as tested here. Very quickly, the reason we specify petrol-electric is because Mercedes does an E 300 de diesel-electric PHEV too, which can claim even more extraordinary CO2 and economy figures that, if we're being honest, you're unlikely to ever see in real-world driving (that's a failing of all PHEVs and not just these Benzes, however).

Anyway, the de is a little more expensive than the e and so we're testing the petrol-powered PHEV as a result. The E 300 e was around before the facelift and very little has changed for the updated car. There's a 211hp/350Nm turbocharged four-cylinder 2.0-litre engine up front and then a 90kW (122hp)/440Nm electric motor sequestered away in the driveline. This is powered by a 13.5kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which is larger than the pre-facelift W213's 7.2kW item, and so this Mercedes PHEV has much more chance of achieving its quoted 33-34 miles of electric driving range than it did previously.

We apologise if it looks like we're giving the E 300 e short shrift with this review in terms of the length of it, but we don't need to go on and on for ages about its driving dynamics, because you can probably take a good stab at what it feels like yourself. Nevertheless, we must be professional and at least give you some of our thoughts, so here's the main one - it's a thoroughly beautiful car to travel around in. It'll whisk you up and down motorways in a rich, silken veil of peacefulness in the cabin, as the ride quality and noise suppression are as good as if not better than any other car in this class; it's effortlessly graceful at higher speeds, this saloon. Meanwhile, when teamed together the petrol-electric propulsion system serves up 320hp and so the E 300 e feels every bit as strong and accelerative as you would demand of an expensive, mid-sized Mercedes that might, in antiquity, ordinarily have toted a muscular V6 engine or bigger.

The payoff for the immense feelgood factor you get when you're cruising in the Mercedes is that it's a heavy old barge with all the electric gear onboard, clocking in at a mere ten kilos shy of two tonnes, and coupled to M-B's traditionally buttoned-down dynamics the E 300 e isn't much fun to hustle in the corners. It's OK, but you won't often want to work its chassis that hard when you're travelling down a sinuous back road. Ah, and there's one final compromise: due to the location of the battery, there's a weird shelf arrangement in the boot of the E-Class PHEV and it means you lose 140 litres of space compared to a regular model.

As to the true economy we saw, the E 300 e turned in 39.2mpg across 311.6 miles and recorded a best of 42.2mpg on a motorway jaunt. Now, set against a quoted official figure of 176.6mpg, those numbers might look appalling, but all PHEVs are like this if you don't charge them. And we have to confess that we didn't once plug the E-Class into the mains (the charging port is neatly positioned on the off-side of the rear bumper, incidentally), which actually means that this 1,990kg, 320hp petrol-driven car managed nearly 40mpg on its combustion motor alone. So if you can plug it in, this could prove to be one of the most frugal big PHEVs of them all.

In essence, the Mercedes E 300 e follows the age-old pattern of the German triumvirate. If you want the sharpest-driving PHEV in this class, pick the BMW 530e. If you want the one with the most sumptuous long-distance manners, pick the E 300 e; for all the driving we did in it during the week, it felt like we'd done about 50 miles in total, maximum, so relaxing was the Merc. Oh, and if you want the one that's good in all weathers and looks the nicest on the outside, choose the Audi A6 50 TFSI e. Us? We'd have a Volvo S90 T8 Inscription. But the Mercedes would be a very, very fine second prize as an alternative.

Alternatives:

Audi A6 50 TFSI e: while Mercedes offers a diesel-electric alternative in the form of the E 300 de, Audi's PHEVs are all petrols and the 50 TFSI e uses a similar specification 2.0-litre-based powertrain to the Merc.

BMW 530e: as ever from the BMW, the 530e PHEV is a fine car and its chassis is better-sorted than the E 300 e. However, the Mercedes rides better and has a nicer interior, so we think we just favour the E-Class here.

Volvo S90 T8: Volvo doesn't offer the less potent T6 drivetrain in the S90 yet, so it's the meaty 390hp T8 for about the same money as the Germans here. Volvo is very spec-dependent but get an Inscription and you will adore this ecological Swedish saloon.


Matt Robinson - 11 May 2021



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2021 Mercedes-Benz E 300 e AMG Line PHEV UK test. Image by Mercedes.2021 Mercedes-Benz E 300 e AMG Line PHEV UK test. Image by Mercedes.2021 Mercedes-Benz E 300 e AMG Line PHEV UK test. Image by Mercedes.2021 Mercedes-Benz E 300 e AMG Line PHEV UK test. Image by Mercedes.2021 Mercedes-Benz E 300 e AMG Line PHEV UK test. Image by Mercedes.

2021 Mercedes-Benz E 300 e AMG Line PHEV UK test. Image by Mercedes.2021 Mercedes-Benz E 300 e AMG Line PHEV UK test. Image by Mercedes.2021 Mercedes-Benz E 300 e AMG Line PHEV UK test. Image by Mercedes.2021 Mercedes-Benz E 300 e AMG Line PHEV UK test. Image by Mercedes.2021 Mercedes-Benz E 300 e AMG Line PHEV UK test. Image by Mercedes.








 

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