Hybrid vehicles combine all the advantages of the internal combustion engine with the benefits of electric power to achieve superior performance and exceptional efficiency.
Seen here outside Mercedes-Benz of Taunton, the C 350 e is one of the newest additions to the Mercedes-Benz hybrid range. Because it boasts some of the most advanced hybrid technology on the market, we wanted to take a look at what it has to offer.
Luxury for the environment.
In 2009 the world’s first series production car to feature a hybrid drive system with a lithium-ion battery arrived in the form of the Mercedes-Benz S 400 HYBRID.
In 2012 Mercedes-Benz set another milestone in the development of the automobile when they premiered the first diesel hybrid in the premium segment anywhere in the world. The E 300 BlueTEC HYBRID combined the efficiency of a diesel engine with the advantages of the hybrid drive, advancing into consumption regions of 4 litres of diesel per 100kms travelled.
Today the Mercedes-Benz family is reinforced by an impressive selection of hybrid vehicles. In addition to the above, these include the C 300 BlueTEC Hybrid, the S 300 BlueTEC hybrid and the C 350 e.
In the driver’s seat.
Following the C 300 BlueTEC HYBRID, the C 350 e is the second hybrid model in the new C-Class and the first to offer both Saloon and Estate variants.
Its four cylinder engine, in conjunction with a powerful electric motor, gives a total system output of 279 hp and torque of 600 Nm. With certified consumption figures of just 2.1 litres of fuel per 100 km, the C 35o e delivers the performance of a sports car while offering the benefits of an electric one.
Efficiency at its best.
The intelligent engine management system of the C 350 e works in the background to select the ideal combination between combustion engine and electric motor. The electric motor is able to replace or support the combustion engine to heighten performance and fuel efficiency while making practical use of energy generated while braking.
Taking this a step further, if an exact destination is known though use of the navigation system, charge and discharge of the C 350 e’s high-voltage battery are controlled to ensure the optimal use of energy over the whole route.
Thanks to an intelligent on-board charging system, the battery can be charged in around 1 hour 30 minutes at a charging point. This increases slightly to 2 hours when using a socket. When fully charged, it offers up to 31 miles of driving while in electric mode, and thus can be completely free of C02 emissions locally.
Paddle shifts are available for drivers who are reluctant to surrender control to an automatic car. However, the receptiveness of the electric motor illustrates just why gears aren’t necessary. Without clunky gear changes the ride is smooth. Plus, with torque generated from standstill, it is responsive as soon as you touch the throttle.
The sportiness of the ride is naturally thrilling. You only need to kick down to experience the superb acceleration of the electric motor, which can reach 60mph in 6.2 seconds.
In line with the rest of the Mercedes-Benz range, there is also the option to personalise your driving experience by selecting a specific transmission mode. These will influence the drive accordingly, allowing you to choose between Individual, Sport, Sport +, Comfort and Economy.
Silence is bliss.
While in electric mode the car runs in virtual silence. It is the first thing you notice when driving a hybrid for the first time and the benefits are instant. You do notice a slight change in volume when the combustion engine kicks in. However, because of the support of the electric motor, this is still at a fraction of the level of a conventional combustion engine.
In the C 350 e you can have conversations with ease and can enjoy playing music at a moderate volume instead of hiking it up to drown out exterior noise. This acts to reduce stress and makes it easier to concentrate. Therefore, contributing to a more enjoyable, and healthy, driving experience.
You would also expect cabin noise to increase on the motorway, perhaps to a level that was irritating. As speeds rise you are more aware of road and wind noise but this is only because there is nothing else adding to it. The reality is that a hybrid car offers a far more enjoyable driving experience no matter of the speed you are travelling.
Dynamism without limitation.
Vehicles like the C 350 e offer the unopposed tranquillity of virtually silent driving with the smooth yet reactive performance unique to an electric motor. Combine this with the attraction of smaller running costs and a reduced carbon footprint, and it becomes clear why more of us are choosing to go hybrid.