Mercedes E-Class Saloon Hybrid review
The plug-in hybrid version of the Mercedes E-Class is a comfy, luxurious and impressively economical posh saloon (if you regularly plug it in). It’s not as practical as standard petrol or diesel models, though
What's not so good
Mercedes E-Class Saloon Hybrid: what would you like to read next?
The plug-in hybrid version of the Mercedes E-Class takes all the things we love about the standard car and throws in a smooth, economical part-electric powertrain for good measure. It goes up against hybridised alternatives such as the BMW 5 Series and Audi A6.
In a way, it’s a bit like adding a dusting of chocolate to the top of your cappuccino. The plug-in set-up doesn’t fundamentally change the overall end product, but it does bring a healthy dose of additional intrigue to the E-Class line-up (you can read our review of the standard car here).
So you still get a fantastically comfortable – and impressively luxurious – cabin; a heap of useful tech and driver assistance systems and a plush, smooth ride. It’s still not a sporty car by any measure, but thanks to the addition of a small electric motor and a 13.5kWh battery, this plug-in hybrid E-Class should be able to cover up to 35 miles on a charge.
We were able to get 27 miles under our belts before the combustion engine felt the need to spark into life, but really that should be more than enough to cover off your daily commuting needs. And if you’re lucky enough to have access to a home wallbox, you’ll probably find that you hardly ever need to rouse the engine at all. Plug the E-Class into one of these and you’ll top its battery up in just 1.5 hours.
You get a choice of two different versions, too: one with a four-cylinder petrol engine; and the other with a four-cylinder diesel – so you’ve really got all your bases covered. If you spend most of your time commuting in town, go for the E300e petrol; if you’re out on the motorway a lot but then want to drive around busy city streets on electricity, go for the E300de diesel.
You'll need to plug the E-Class Hybrid in at home to make the most of its electric range, but otherwise this is an impressively luxurious and comfortable saloon.
We tested the E300e petrol version, and for the most part it proved to be an impressive set-up. The electric motor has enough punch to ensure you’re not stuck holding anyone up at the lights, and the transition from electric to petrol power is generally pretty inconspicuous – though if you put your foot down and really rev the petrol engine out, it does start to make a slightly less civilised amount of noise.
But generally, it’s pretty good. It’s hushed at a cruise and when you’re just pootling around. In fact the only time it really raises an eyebrow is when it sparks into life while you’re sat still and the battery is flat. It can be quite noisy and rattly when it does this, but this could well be because it’s working harder than usual to send a bit of additional juice back to the drive battery.
Anyway, it’s no dealbreaker. In fact our biggest gripe with this plug-in hybrid version of the Mercedes E-Class is the fact that the battery eats into bootspace.
In the standard saloon you’ve got 540 litres of storage capacity to play with; here, it drops down to 370 litres, which is less than you get in a Volkswagen Golf. There’s a big, awkward step in the floor, too, so loading in a large suitcase will be trickier than squeezing into your favourite jeans after a particularly indulgent Christmas dinner…
Other than that, the E-Class plug-in hybrid is a smooth operator that’s comfortable around town and over distance, easy to drive and potentially extremely economical. And if that compromised boot is a bit of a dealbreaker, there’s a practical estate version available too – although you can only get this version with the diesel-electric hybrid set-up.
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