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Model update: Mercedes-Benz C-Class plug-in hybrid

Date: 17 March 2021   |   Author: Simon Harris

More than two years after the updated C-Class launched, we try the plug-in hybrid as the model is set to be replaced in summer 2021.
What's new
It's a while since we drove the C-Class and it occurred to us that we never tried the popular plug-in hybrid.
Standard equipment on AMG Line Edition:
18in alloy wheels, leather seat trim, two rear USB ports, four-way lumbar support in front, selectable suspension setting, charging cables for house and for wall box, charging socket, selectable driving modes, folding rear seats, 50-litre fuel tank, 10.25in dashboard screen, LED headlights, Park Pilot, DAB radio, navigation, rear privacy glass, reversing camera, rain-sensing windscreen wipers

Plug-in hybrid technology has not yet reached the premium saloon and estate sector in the same way larger cars has.

BMW, Volvo and Mercedes-Benz were early adopters, while Audi, Jaguar and Lexus are yet to launch the technology, although they offer it elsewhere in
the range.

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class is unique in offering customers a choice of petrol or diesel engines with their plug-in hybrids, and while it won't make a big difference for BIK tax or CO2 emissions compared with a petrol alternative, those miles where the driver's EV range has depleted will most likely be covered more fuel efficiently and at a lower cost.

The current C-Class, which is nearing the end of its life cycle, has offered plug-in hybrid options (now branded EQ Drive to link to the EQ prefix of its fully electric models) from relatively early in the model's life, which have been popular among business users.

The C 300e petrol hybrid offers a combined power output of 320hp, while the C 300de diesel hybrid produces 306hp. Both use turbocharged four-cylinder engines and have CO2 emissions of around 30-40gkm and low BIK tax.

Saloon or estate versions, petrol or diesel, Mercedes-Benz seems switched on to the importance of this technology to the majority of C-Class drivers in the UK.

The current C-Class went into production in 2014 and underwent updates in 2018. An announcement from the company on its successor is planned after we go to press, so it is getting rather long in the tooth but has several months left on sale before the new model arrives.

But you wouldn't really know it from how the car looks. It still appears modern and elegant, and in its interior as well. The Sport Edition and AMG Line Edition models have analogue instruments, but adding the premium pack replaces them with a digital instrument display.

The multimedia system is accessed through a rotary dial and touchpad, while there is also the option of using the touchscreen. Drivers will learn how they prefer to use it, but it continues the theme of maximising choice.

The area where it appears dated is in the boot, where the space taken up by the battery as encroaches into the luggage area. Fortunately the rear seats fold should any unusually large objects need to be carried, but the minimum space available with the rear seats up is 300 litres - around the same as in a Ford Fiesta.

On the road, the C 300de is smooth and refined. When the diesel engine fires up, it does so unobtrusively, and both electric and diesel power blend well for strong acceleration.

And while it might not have the outright driver appeal of a BMW 3 Series, the C-Class is still well balanced and responsive.

Despite its age and limited time left on sale, there is still much to recommend it, and it bodes well for the next generation.

Mercedes-Benz C 300de EQ Drive AMG Line Edition  

P11D: £44,455

Residual value: 36.2%

Depreciation: £28,357

Fuel: £1,381

Service, maintenance and repair: £2,827

Cost per mile: 54.3p

Fuel consumption: 235.4mpg

CO2 (BIK band): 31g/km (11%) 

BIK 20/40% a month: £82/£163

Boot space: 300 litres

Engine size/power: 1,950cc/306hp


  • Petrol or diesel choice
  • Elegant looks
  • Smart interior
  • PHEV sacrifices luggage space