Mercedes has used the 2015 Detroit Auto Show to continue the expansion of its C-Class range, offering up a plug-in hybrid model to complement the C300 BlueTEC Hybrid and existing range of petrol and diesel engines. The C350 Plug-In Hybrid retains the standard C-Class' luxurious interior, but boasts a set of frugal fuel economy figures to challenge those of small-engined city-cars.
The C350 Plug-In Hybrid is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder motor, producing 211 hp (155 kW) and 350 Nm (258 lb.ft) of torque – slightly more than the base C200's engine produces. Supplementing the petrol engine is an electric motor, which draws its power from a 6.2 kw/h lithium-ion battery mounted under the rear axle. Mercedes says this battery can be charged directly from a wall socket in just under two hours.
When fully charged, the C-Class’ battery pack will allow drivers to travel up to 31 km (19 mi) without help from the petrol engine, perfect for people who commute short distances around the city on a daily basis. As with plenty of other modern hybrids, the electric motor can also provide a handy power boost to the petrol engine when you want to pick up the pace.
Putting out 60 kW (80 hp) of power and 340 Nm (251 lb.ft) of torque, the C350’s electric motor boosts total power to 205 kW, with peak torque of 600 Nm when combined with the petrol engine in “boost” mode – 80 more than the C450 AMG 4MATIC launched alongside it in Detroit. This allows the hybrid C-Class to sprint from 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in only 5.9 seconds.
As you would expect, the C-Class’ fuel economy also benefits from the addition of electric power. Mercedes is claiming combined fuel consumption figures of just 2.1 L/100km (112 mpg) from its latest hybrid, with CO2 emissions of just 49 g/km – less than a three-cylinder Mini Cooper city car.
Five transmission modes, ranging from "Economy" (focused on letting the car coast and switching to electric power when possible) to Sport Plus (petrol engine always active, fast gear changes and stiff suspension) can be selected on the go. In addition, C350 owners are also able to regulate when and how battery power is used, including whether it should be saved to use in certain parts of town.
To ensure that C350 Plug-In owners are making the most of their car’s fuel-saving potential, the car’s accelerator provides haptic feedback to tell the driver when the petrol engine is about to cut in. It will also pulse to encourage drivers to remove their foot from the pedal and allow the car to coast. Mercedes/ AIRMATIC Air suspension comes as standard, providing electronically regulated continuously variable damper adjustment at both the front and rear axles.
The C350 Plug-In Hybrid, which will be offered in Saloon and Estate models, is expected to go on sale in March this year.