LEADING EDGE | Westcon
Mercedes-Benz C 350 e
Efficiency, dynamism and comfort – the best of three worlds
Proudly manufactured in South Africa the new Mercedes Benz C350 e is a worldwide leader in its field of PLUG-IN-HYBRID technology.
Mercedes-Benz is now offering its most advanced hybrid technology in the C-Class. With a range of 31 kilometres in purely electric mode, local emission-free driving is now a reality. Its four-cylinder petrol engine, in conjunction with a powerful electric motor, gives it a total system output of 205 kW and torque of 600 Nm. The C 350 e is equipped as standard with AIRMATIC air suspension plus a Pre-Entry Climate Control system that can be controlled via the internet, adding up to a truly exceptional level of driving and climate comfort.
Thanks to the combination of combustion engine and electric drive, hybrid drive systems deliver impressively low consumption, but with high performance. The electric motor is able to replace or support the combustion engine in situations where the combustion engine does not perform quite so well, and makes practical use of energy generated while braking by converting it into electric energy and storing it.
The C 350 e uses the most advanced form of hybrid technology which can be charged from an external power source. Thanks to an intelligent on-board charging system, the battery can be recharged in around 1 hour 45 minutes at a wall-box (230 V, 16 A, 3.7 kW single-phase). Alternatively, charging via a standard domestic socket is of course also possible. Depending on the connection, a charge time of around two hours is achievable (with 230 V and 13 A, 3.0 kW). Despite the space taken up by the battery, the C 350 e still has a boot capacity of 335 litres.
PLUG-IN HYBRID for the first time now with four-cylinder petrol engine
In the new Mercedes-Benz C 350 e, this hybrid drive concept is combined for the first time with an efficient four-cylinder petrol engine. From a displacement of just under two litres, it produces 155 kW and maximum torque of 350 Nm. The electric motor of the C 350 e has an output of up to 60 kW and delivers 340 newton metres of torque. A total system output of 205 kW, as well as 600 Nm of torque.
The hybrid module of the standard 7-speed automatic transmission 7G-TRONIC PLUS incorporates both the electric motor and an additional clutch between the combustion engine and the electric motor.
Well that puts it in a nutshell as far as the actual technical details go. For me it is much more important as to how the C350 e performs. This sedan sprints from zero to 100 km/h in 5.9 seconds and reaches a top speed of 250 km/h and does so with zest.
As a hybrid it is efficient, dynamic and completely straightforward to drive. It is as comfortable as any of the other models in the range and off course the extra traveling with only the hybrid system does have its perks in peak traffic.
Some of the advantages are:
Silent start: the vehicle starts virtually silently and runs in electric mode. At this point the combustion engine is generally held inactive.
Boost: the electric motor kicks in to boost the output of the combustion engine by a further 60 kW – for example for rapid acceleration.
Energy recuperation: during braking and coasting, energy is recovered and stored in the battery.
The greatest potential for lowering the energy consumption of hybrid drive systems lies in maximising energy recovery during coasting and braking. When you are used to this it becomes a challenge to see how much you can increase your effectiveness while driving.
One new feature of the C 350 e is the so-called haptic accelerator pedal, which helps to reduce fuel consumption and thus also exhaust emissions. It provides two types of information:
If, when driving in electric mode, the driver's foot meets a point of resistance on the accelerator pedal, this is an indication that maximum electric performance is being delivered. If the driver continues to depress the accelerator beyond this resistance point, the combustion engine will kick in.
Individual transmission mode is available and anyone wanting to can also intervene manually and regulate the hybrid interplay by selecting a specific transmission mode to define certain functions that influence the driving experience.
The following transmission modes are available:
I Individual: individual definition of the characteristics of the transmission mode, including:
- Drive system
- Chassis and suspension
- ECO Assist
- Climate control
S + Sport+: maximum boost performance, very sporty gear changes, the combustion engine is always active, particularly stiff suspension and damping settings.
S Sport: enhanced boost performance, sporty gear changes, the combustion engine is always active, stiff suspension and damping settings.
C Comfort: boost performance and recuperation optimised for comfort and consumption, electric drive/ engine shut-off possible up to 130 km/h, comfort-oriented standard settings.
E Economy: boost performance is consumption-optimised, recuperation minimised in favour of coasting distance. All-electric mode and engine shut-off are possible. The ECO Assist is also active.
ECO Assist activates an additional function, using the radar technology behind the standard proximity warning system in order to do so. In this way frequent braking, particularly in stop-and-go traffic, can be avoided.
Three different faces for the PLUG-IN HYBRID as well
The C 350 e comes standard in the AVANTGARDE exterior equipment line, which emphasises its sporty, premium-vehicle character. As an alternative the EXCLUSIVE exterior equipment line and AMG Line is also available. With its classic radiator grille and the three-pointed star on the bonnet, the C-Class conveys prestige status and a sense of modern luxury
Choice of four operating modes
1. Hybrid: all hybrid functions such as electric operating mode, boost and recuperation are available and are applied according to the driving situation and route in the most fuel-efficient manner.
2. E-mode: used for all-electric driving – for example in inner-city areas or because the battery holds sufficient charge for the remainder of the journey.
3. E-save: the charge status of the battery is maintained – for example to allow all-electric driving in an environmental zone at a later stage in the journey. Electric driving and the boost function are only available for a limited extent.
4. Charge: allows the battery to be recharged while driving using the combustion engine – for example in order to ensure a higher state of battery charge for later parts of the journey. The combustion engine remains switched on and fuel consumption may increase. Electric operation is not possible.
For driving comfort the C 350 e comes with air suspension as standard and, in addition, includes the enhanced comfort feature AIRMATIC air suspension as part of its standard specification.
The interior is on par with premium luxury cars with high-class materials and their pleasant touch and feel of the finely crafted details. Prominently located immediately above the centre console is a centrally positioned free-standing central display unit. All the functions of the head unit can be intuitively controlled from a touchpad using simple finger movements.
The C 350 e is fitted as standard with H7 halogen headlamps. In addition to the standard-fit headlamps, two energy-saving LED variants are available: a static system and a dynamic version with the "LED Intelligent Light System".
Safety as with comfort is never neglected and again the C 350 e is loaded with the latest safety technology available in the industry. Two of the systems fitted as standard are ATTENTION ASSIST, which can warn of inattentiveness and fatigue, and COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST PLUS, which protects against collision at speeds of over 7 km/h and, if the danger remains and the driver fails to react, can also undertake autonomous braking at speeds of up to 200 km/h and by so doing reduce the severity of an accident involving a slower-moving vehicle.
Even the basic version of the sophisticated multimedia system found in the C‑Class is internet compatible, if paired with a Bluetooth®-enabled mobile phone with data option. Also standard is a basic telephony feature, which connects the mobile phone with the vehicle via a standardised Bluetooth® interface.
As with all Mercedes-Benz passenger cars, the C 350 e comes standard with a class-leading six-year/100 000 km PremiumDrive maintenance plan. The C 350 e is exempt from CO2 emission tax as emission levels amount to frugal levels of 65 g/km and retails at R804 900.
Technical data at a glance:
Number of cylinders/arrangement 4 in-line 1991 cc
Rated output (kW at r/min) 155 at 5500
Rated torque (Nm) 350
Output (kW) max. 60
Torque (Nm) 340
System output (kW) 205
System torque (Nm) 600
Acceleration 0-100 km/h (s) 5.9
Top speed (km/h) 250
Top speed electric (km/h) 130
Fuel consumption (combined) from (l/100 km) 2.1
Combined CO2 emissions from (g/km) 65
Electric range (km) 31
Total battery capacity (kWh) 6.2
Charge time 10%-100%
(230/8 A -16 A), 1.8-3.7 kW(h) 1.75 – 3.5
I am not yet sold on the hybrid system for the simple reason that it is still progressing and ever changing. For the time being I will stick to the oil burner version of the C Class.