Three new plug-in hybrid models join the local Mercedes-Benz lineup this month.
Starting the range are the C-Class versions – the C 350 e which is available in both sedan ($75,300 plus on-road charges) and estate ($77,800 plus on-roads).
The C-Class hybrid’s combined fuel consumption of just 2.4l/100kms (sedan) or 2.6l/100kms (estate) highlights the efficiency of Benz’s hybrid system.
Under the bonnet is the 155kW/350Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor mounted in the transmission bell-housing (where the torque converter would normally be) giving a combined output of 205kW/600Nm.
Mercedes has equipped the hybrid version of the C-Class with standard air suspension and a pre-entry climate control system which allows you to have the interior warmed or chilled to your desired temperature prior to opening the doors.
Benz’s says for hybrid passenger cars to gain increased acceptance it is critical they don’t look like a car from the TV series The Jetsons so the C 350 e (like its larger cousins) looks identical to the non-hybrid versions of the C-Class apart from the slightly reduced cargo space in the boot which has the lithium-ion batteries underneath.
Inside the dashboard display is slightly changed to show both fuel and battery charge levels.
Next-up is the GLE 500 e SUV ($124,900 plus on-roads) and at the top of the range is the S 500 e sedan ($319,715 plus on-roads) which are both powered by the 245kW/480Nm 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine (325kW/650Nm when combined with the electric motor).
Combined-cycle fuel consumption for the GLE 500 e is rated at 3.3l/100kms and for the S 500 e the figure is 2.8l/100kms.
There are three drive modes – ‘Hybrid’ is the default mode or you can choose ‘E-Mode’ for pure electric running (a firm press of the ‘haptic’ accelerator pedal cuts-in the petrol engine on-demand).
The other mode is ‘E-Save’ which is designed with European cities in mind which are increasingly limiting their CBDs to zero emissions vehicles and so the Mercedes-Benz system will keep the current battery charge level by using the petrol engine purely as a generator.
Being a Mercedes-Benz there is an armada of technology to support the hybrid system such as regenerative braking and, in the satellite navigation system, an anticipatory route planning function which, for example, tells you the most fuel-efficient way to get to your destination.
For maximum efficiency this will see you arriving having used mostly zero emissions electric drive but with the battery charge almost fully expended (no sense in wasting fuel charging the battery prior to arrival at your destination when the engine will be switched-off).
Pure electric range is around 30kms and a zero emissions top speed of 130km/h can be achieved.
Charging can be done at home and Mercedes is offering the Mercedes-Benz Wallbox with an ‘intelligent cable’ (plugs into an inlet in the rear bumper) for $2,000 plus installation costs (which M-B can arrange for you).