Called the C 350 Plug-In Hybrid, this latest variant now brings PHEV technology to the C-Class for the first time and boasts a fuel figure of 2.1 l/100km in both sedan and wagon.
The C 350 joins the C 220 BlueTEC diesel and C 300 BlueTEC diesel hybrid in the existing C-Class’s ‘most-frugal’ line-up, among a growing range of ‘green’ options across the Mercedes range - including the S 500 Plug-In Hybrid from last year.
Power comes from a 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine producing 155kW/350Nm and an electric engine making 60kW/340Nm, matched with a seven-speed automatic transmission.
Combined available output is 205kW and 600Nm, and the C 350 can travel up to 31km on battery-power alone before the petrol engine is called upon.
The 0-100km/h sprint takes 5.9 seconds in the sedan and 6.2 in the wagon, while the C 350’s top speed is 130km/h using the electric motor alone and limited to 250km/h when using all available power.
The 100kg, water-cooled lithium-ion battery’s energy capacity is 6.2 kWh, which Mercedes says is mounted in a steel housing underneath the rear axle in a way that maximises both safety and boot space with a minimal impact on driving dynamics.
Using a ‘wall-box’ or public charge point, a full charge can be achieved in 1h45m rising to around two hours when using a conventional power outlet.
Like many PHEVs, the C 350 makes full use of the electric motor’s capacity as a decelerator with the motor alone acting as the ‘brakes’ when the driver first engages the brake pedal - all the while adding charge to the battery pack.
Only stronger applications of the brake pedal will prompt the brake callipers into action, but Mercedes says the transition is seamless.
The driver can choose between Hybrid, E-Mode, E-Save and Charge driving modes depending on the journey, which allows the battery’s energy to be reserved for when it’s most effective - such as an inner-city driving environment.
A further five options are available for the automatic transmission, including Sport, Sport +, Comfort, Economy and Individual; which allows even more personalisation through five additional settings.
Otherwise, the C 350 is a typical C-Class with all the usual safety features and interior appointments, along with the likes of Pre-Entry Climate Control and AIRMATIC suspension.
Expect more plug-in hybrids to join the Mercedes-Benz range over the next two years, with Benz’s Professor Dr Thomas Weber saying ten new PHEVs are on the cards between now and 2017.
The C 350 Plug-In Hybrid will arrive in overseas dealers from March this year, with an Australian debut under consideration.