Mercedes is the only player in the PHEV segment offering the combination of a diesel engine and electric propulsion. In the E300de, it also allows you to choose a saloon or estate bodystyle, which is another advantage that isn’t as widely available as you might imagine. For those reasons and others, the E300de makes the top half of this chart.
Electric range only just scrapes a WLTP-certified 30 miles, although that will depend on optional specification, so the car may well miss a 10% BIK banding if you opt for bigger wheels or a sportier trim. The fact that it’s easy to add options and turn this into a £50,000-plus prospect will also have an impact on its tax efficiency, of course.
In the real world, our testing suggests that 22-25 miles is as far as the E300de will run without rousing its four-pot diesel engine. And yet considering it has only four cylinders, its performance is impressively swift. Clever power management makes it easy to capture and recycle energy without realising you’re doing it, and the handling is quietly deft and fairly precise for what is, after all, a two-tonne car.
Mercedes’ hybrid battery installation does take up some boot space, but it doesn’t prevent the E300de being a supremely practical car – particularly in estate form – as well as a smart, desirable and real-world-efficient one.
As with the larger E-Class, you can have your plug-in C-Class with either a petrol or a diesel engine, and in saloon or estate bodystyles.
In C300e petrol estate guise, the plug-in C-Class makes for an impressive ownership proposition, if not one that will engage and excite keener drivers quite like a BMW 330e undoubtedly will. Still, there’s plenty to like here. On optional air suspension its ride is comfortable and controlled; while its four-cylinder engine is smooth, refined and punchy enough to afford the Mercedes a decent turn of pace. It can be a bit too easy at times to tip over from electric to petrol power, but the switch itself is barely perceptible.
With a new 13.5kWh battery, the C300e’s electric range now stands at a class-competitive 34 miles. Combine that with WLTP-certified CO2 emissions of 37g/km, and the plug-in C-Class slots itself comfortably into the 10% BIK tax bracket.