Mercedes E 300 e plug-in exec drives home the case for posh petrol hybridsVerdict4.5The Mercedes E 300 e builds on the traditional E-Class strengths by offering the prospect of a pure-electric commute to more users than ever. You’ll still justify it on numbers more than emotion, but it does feel like another significant step in electrification’s march towards the mainstream.
There’s barely a car on sale these days without an electrified option in the pipeline or already available. But the Mercedes E-Class has had that choice for half a decade, and now there are a couple of fresh editions designed to deliver low CO2 emissions: the E 300 e and E 300 de.
Here we’re driving the new E 300 e, which has a four-cylinder petrol engine producing 208bhp and a 121bhp electric motor for a combined output of 315bhp and 700Nm of torque.
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It can cover 0-62mph in less than six seconds and hit a top speed of 155mph, but it also emits just 45g/km of CO2 on the tougher WLTP test cycle, enough for a frankly ludicrous official fuel consumption figure of 141mpg.
On the road, the E 300 e shows how far electrification has come. It’s possible to eke out more than 30 miles of pure-electric running – enough for many morning commutes – as long as you follow the car’s suggestions for maximum efficiency. Some will find that too much of a faff; others will find it involving and curiously addictive.
The E 300 e comes as a saloon only, but there will also be a four-cylinder diesel-electric set-up, in saloon and Estate forms. The rest of the E-Class package remains similar, so it’s still on the comfortable side of the large executive saloon class.
And it’s refined with it, although should you try to exploit the 700Nm of torque, you’ll find the four-cylinder petrol engine a strange companion. It’s not that it’s particularly thrashy; it’s more that it’s an odd engine note to hear in a car so commonly associated with smooth six-cylinder powerplants.
The cabin, meanwhile, has few cues to the eco-focus, beyond a bit of ‘EQ blue’ mood lighting and an electric mode button, which is located down near the COMAND controller in the centre console.
- Model: Mercedes E 300 e SE
- Price: £44,000 (est, after grant)
- Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl petrol, plus electric motor
- Power/torque: 315bhp/700Nm
- Transmission: Nine-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
- 0-62mph: 5.7 seconds
- Top speed: 155mph
- Economy/CO2: 141mpg/45g/km
- On sale: November
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