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Review: 2024 Mercedes-Benz C350e PHEV - Best or worst of both worlds?

Shaun · Jun 25, 2024 08:10 PM

Review: 2024 Mercedes-Benz C350e PHEV - Best or worst of both worlds? 01

The argument for plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) is simple - offer zero-emission driving for short trips and can refuel quickly for long-distance travel, free from range anxiety, unreliable public charging, and lengthy charging stops.

PHEVs feature larger battery packs and more powerful electric motors than non-plug-in hybrids, offering greater electric range but also adding extra weight. In electric mode, the combustion engine becomes a ballast. Conversely, when the battery depletes and the engine kicks in, the battery is now the ballast.

This added weight results in PHEVs typically being less efficient, in terms of both electrical energy and fuel, compared to battery electric vehicles (BEVs) or pure combustion engine cars. The complexity of combining two propulsion systems also raises reliability concerns.

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Review: 2024 Mercedes-Benz C350e PHEV - Best or worst of both worlds? 01

So, while there's an argument that plug-in hybrids offer the best of both worlds, there's also an argument that they don't. It all boils down to lifestyle and usage patterns. If you have access to home or office charging and your commute is around 50 km per day or so, then it would fit your lifestyle.

If it does and you’re in the market for a PHEV in the RM 300k range, you’d likely be looking at the BMW 330e, Volvo S60, or this, the Mercedes-Benz C350e.

Overview: 2024 Mercedes-Benz C350e AMG Line
Price RM 338,888
Powertrain 2.0-litre turbocharged, 4-cyl, PHEV
Battery 25.4 kWh
Range 117 km (WTLP, claimed)
Power 313 PS
Torque 550 Nm
0-100 km/h 6.2 seconds (tested)
Origin CKD, Pekan

The C350e has replaced the C300 in the C-Class lineup, a decision I'm not fully behind but can understand. The company is clearly moving towards electrification and with the C350e offering more power at a similar price point, it seems they wanted to avoid any overlaps or internal competition.

Also read: Priced lower than anticipated, prices confirmed for CKD 2024 Mercedes-Benz C350e PHEV in Malaysia: RM 339k

2024 Mercedes-Benz C350e - Exterior

Review: 2024 Mercedes-Benz C350e PHEV - Best or worst of both worlds? 02

Why am I not keen on the discontinuation of the C300? Let's start with the exterior. The C300 had an elegance that signalled you were driving the top trim variant, featuring the AMG-Line exterior kit, 19-inch multi-spoke wheels, and a proper ride height.

Review: 2024 Mercedes-Benz C350e PHEV - Best or worst of both worlds? 03

The C350e, while also equipped with the AMG-Line kit, has different, smaller 18-inch wheels that aren't as attractive, giving it a less premium appearance. Also, the C350e has a noticeably taller ride height with pronounced wheel gaps (although the plus side is that it no longer scrapes going over speed bumps with passengers on board).

These seemingly minor details collectively make the C350e look less expensive compared to the C300.

2024 Mercedes-Benz C350e - Interior

Review: 2024 Mercedes-Benz C350e PHEV - Best or worst of both worlds? 04

The interior remains as beautifully presented as ever. From its design to the ambient lighting that truly shines at night, it continues to be the nicest in its class. Of course, if you start to feel around the lower areas, you'll notice harder and cheaper-feeling materials, but that's typical for this segment.

The portrait-style infotainment screen that runs on MBUX is excellent, with sharp graphics, high resolution, and it’s responsive. The climate control settings are always visible and easy to use on the go. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto worked almost flawlessly during my time with the car.

Review: 2024 Mercedes-Benz C350e PHEV - Best or worst of both worlds? 05

A few complaints about the interior: the steering wheel's haptic controls are fiddly and often confuse directional inputs, lacking true tactility. The footwell is tight, though there is just enough space to rest my left foot on the blank step.

Review: 2024 Mercedes-Benz C350e PHEV - Best or worst of both worlds? 06

Boot space shrinks from 455-litre to 315-litre in the PHEV.

Audio quality is also underwhelming, with shallow bass, distant-sounding vocals, and highs that lack crispness. The boot has also been sacrificed due to the placement of the battery pack, but that’s to be expected.

2024 Mercedes-Benz C350e – Driving Experience

Review: 2024 Mercedes-Benz C350e PHEV - Best or worst of both worlds? 07

Driving the C350e feels much like the regular C200 or C300, with excellent refinement enhanced by the electric drivetrain. The C350e defaults to electric mode, giving a glimpse of what the next-gen all-electric C-Class might be like.

You can use the C350e as a BEV, making round trips without needing to recharge between stops. Mercedes claims an all-electric range of up to 117 km, though I observed 84 km at a full charge during my time with the car. So yes, you can enjoy emissions-free travelling daily, whilst also enjoy hassle-free long-distance journeys.

Review: 2024 Mercedes-Benz C350e PHEV - Best or worst of both worlds? 08

The paddle shifters can control regenerative braking or change gears, depending on the driving mode. However, the transition from electric to engine power isn't always smooth. Sudden acceleration can cause a violent kickdown, and there's sometimes a delay between throttle depression and the exact power requested, despite the electric motor's instant capability.

This is not an issue in the well-calibrated BMW 330e, which also doesn't suffer from the vague brake feel of the C350e. The C350e's brakes feel soft in the initial pedal travel, with an abrupt transition to mechanical braking.

Review: 2024 Mercedes-Benz C350e PHEV - Best or worst of both worlds? 09

If the battery is fully depleted and the engine takes over, the car can feel sluggish as the engine charges the battery and powers the car. But in sport mode with enough charge, the car feels much more responsive since the engine is always running in conjunction with the electric motor, providing full power at all times.

Show the C350e a set of bends and it tackles them confidently and calmly, but never feels truly happy doing so. You can feel the extra mass over the non-hybrid variants working against you. The stock Primacy tyres doesn’t offer the last word in grip either.

2024 Mercedes-Benz C350e – Ride Comfort

Review: 2024 Mercedes-Benz C350e PHEV - Best or worst of both worlds? 10

The extra mass is also felt in the ride quality. There are more lateral body movements, causing passengers to experience head toss, which can lead to nausea.

There's still a gentle, wafty sensation across large undulations, but with additional secondary body movements compared to the non-hybrid variants. Despite having rear axle air suspension, physics can't be entirely overcome. That said, the ride quality is generally pliant, as expected from a Mercedes-Benz.

2024 Mercedes-Benz C350e – Fuel Consumption

Review: 2024 Mercedes-Benz C350e PHEV - Best or worst of both worlds? 11

As a PHEV, the results can vary significantly. This test was conducted without plugging in the vehicle, treating it as a regular non-plug-in hybrid, which is the usage pattern of the majority of PHEV users in Malaysia. It's also driven sensibly to avoid battery depletion.

At the start, the battery was at 100 percent when the fuel tank was filled to the brim. After driving 126.8 km at an average speed of 32 km/h, with the battery at 45 percent, it took 7.04 litres to refill the tank.

Review: 2024 Mercedes-Benz C350e PHEV - Best or worst of both worlds? 12

Calculating the numbers, the 2024 Mercedes-Benz C350e’s fuel consumption was 5.6-litre/100 km. However, this result can vary greatly depending on charging habits.

Conclusion

Review: 2024 Mercedes-Benz C350e PHEV - Best or worst of both worlds? 13

Does the Mercedes-Benz C350e offer the best of both worlds? It depends on your lifestyle and usage patterns. Even if it does, it’s not as well-calibrated as the BMW 330e or the Volvo S60. If you value driving experience, those might sway you.

The most convincing aspects of the C350e are its interior presentation and its badge. While it might appeal to some for its looks, the discontinued C300 sadly offers a more premium feel for its exterior and better ride quality.

Review: 2024 Mercedes-Benz C350e PHEV - Best or worst of both worlds? 14

Who is the C350e for? Someone with access to home charging, a fan of Mercedes-Benz’s design language, someone who values the badge, which is its biggest selling point, and doesn't like the inconvenience of BEVs when it comes to long-distance travels.

Regardless of its shortcomings — whether it's a PHEV or not — if you're in the market for a compact exec, a Mercedes-Benz is always a safe bet, especially a C-Class.

Also read: MBM: Hybrids a perfect bridging solution for Malaysia, more PHEVs to complement BEVs

Shaun

Senior Writer

The quest for automotive knowledge began as soon as the earliest memories. Various sources information, even questionable ones, have been explored including video games, television, magazines, or even internet forums. Still stuck in that rabbit hole.

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