Mercedes C-Class hybrid saloon review

The Mercedes C 300 hybrid is the only model in its sector with the option of diesel-electric power – and it's a great combination

Mercedes C-Class hybrid
£40,869 - £50,405
Plug-in hybrid

Pros

  • Available as a diesel-electric hybrid 
  • Efficient with good electric range
  • Refined and comfortable

Cons

  • Expensive to buy
  • Some rivals offer better value
  • Estate version is more versatile
Car type Electric range Fuel economy CO2 emissions
Plug-in hybrid 34-35 miles 177-235mpg 31-34g/km

Mercedes is going against the plug-in hybrid grain somewhat with this C-Class hybrid, which went on sale in the UK right at the end of 2019. The key difference between this car and rivals like the BMW 330e and Volkswagen Passat GTE is that it pairs a diesel, rather than petrol, engine with its electric motor and batteries. A petrol C 300 e is also offered, but we've yet to get our hands on an example to test – its CO2 emissions and fuel economy can't match those of its diesel sibling, but it may well be a better choice for lower-mileage drivers.

The C 300 de is aimed at people who do a mix of local, urban driving and big motorway runs. It aims to combine the traditional smooth, long-distance cruising ability of a powerful diesel engine with the sprightly around-town performance and zero-emissions capability of electric power.

Both C 300 e and C 300 de are offered in four-door saloon and five-door estate bodystyles, but it's the saloon we're reviewing here. The extensive trim line-up includes Sport, AMG Line, AMG Line Night Edition Premium and AMG Line Night Edition Premium Plus, ranging in price from just under £41,000 to just over £50,000. Depending on what standard equipment you prioritise, the BMW 330e could offer better value for private buyers, but it's unlikely that those in the company-car user-chooser market will notice much difference.

The Mercedes C-Class has always been a less sporty proposition than its rivals from BMW and Audi; its plug-in hybrid drivetrain improves refinement, especially at lower speeds where a standalone diesel engine can be a bit clattery. The C 300 de is faster than an equivalent non-electrified model, too, with lots of low-down torque helping to cut the 0-62mph time to 5.6 seconds. 

Despite the car's extra weight – some 310kg in the diesel – the C 300 de rides well and is very comfortable and cosseting. Non-electrified C-Class models feel lighter on their toes, but the plug-in car still handles neatly enough. It stops short of being as engaging for a keen driver as a 3 Series, however. Inside, the C-Class' interior is starting to feel a bit old, but has been fitted with Mercedes' latest infotainment system and – in higher-spec models – plenty of equipment.

Overall, the C-Class is another competitive entry into the hotly contested plug-in hybrid compact executive class. Its unique selling point is the option of electrified diesel power, offering company-car drivers something a little more useful for when their battery runs flat on a longer run. It could well be a clincher for many.

For a more in-depth look at the C-Class hybrid in both its forms, see the rest of our review...