Mercedes-Benz E-Class Saloon E350e Plug-in Hybrid Review
Efficient Q Car Quotient

clifford chow
3 Apr 2019
 

signature Multibeam LED headlamps are equipped with Adaptive Highbeam Assist Plus for a safe, longer throw of light

The plug-in hybrid may be nothing new these days, and it comes with no surprise that most luxury brands would tend to field a few within their range of cars. Mercedes has in-fact sold the E-Class in hybrid form, when diesels here were all the rave. With its E 300 BlueTec Hybrid car, though in small numbers here.

This time round, the German manufacturer has opted for a plug-in hybrid approach, with a petrol 2.0 turbocharged engine providing the bulk of the drive, and an electric motor aiding in efficiency.

Externally, you’d hardly know the difference between a “plain vanilla” E-Class Mercedes and their PHEV variant. A charging point, located on the right end of the rear bumper, some ‘EQ’ tags on the side, and 350e badging at the rear are the only giveaways. Lending a touch of sportiness, the 350e is decked out in AMG-Line trim, which features blistered “breathers” below the headlamps, and a set of 19” AMG 5-twin-spoke alloys.

Inside

The all-familiar E-Class interior is high in quality, metal-weave trim with a piano black lacquer centre console fills the front end, and there is a good amount of carbon-fibre lining the door cards; and you can be expected to be swaddled in some supple Nappa and Artico leather upholstery. Passenger room is also generous, thanks to its 2,939mm wheelbase.

A Widescreen Cockpit, which features two 12.3” displays, resembling a showboard, with one which is utilised by the driver, and the other sitting in the middle of the dash. Connectivity through Apple CarPlay is available, and a wireless charging dock up-front ensures that devices requiring last-minute charging can get some needed juice. Sound is by a 13-speaker Burmester Surround Sound system, with an output of 590W.

Cargo room however is reduced to 400 litres, due to the large lithium ion unit taking up some real estate. You can however, still load in your golf bag with ease.

The Drive

The E 350e gets a four-cylinder 2.0 turbocharged engine, good for 211hp while the electric motor churns out an additional 88hp. Total output is 286hp, and combined torque is rated at 500Nm, with the petrol engine contributing 350Nm from 1,200 to 4,400rpm, while the electric motor contributes 440Nm. The latter we find very useful (and entertaining) when taking off from the lights, since the electric motors compensate for the time the engine needs to step in and any spool-up time the turbocharger needs to hit “optimum spin”. Acceleration from standstill is at 6.2 seconds, almost sportscar-like, though the E 350e is not intended for sporting aspirations.

There is a bit of a jolt during transition of power, from when the engine takes over the drive from the electric motor, something we feel that the manufacturer should have ironed out. Other than that, the E 350e delivers a pleasant drive, in-part thanks to the adaptive air suspension (Air Body Control). There is a little wind noise emitted from the wing mirrors at speed, and you will also notice that they do block your view especially when you need to look out the driver-side window when making a tight turn. Adaptive cruise control is standard, and so is Active Lane Keeping Assist, which helps you keep your vehicle within the lane confines; while its signature Multibeam LED headlamps are equipped with Adaptive Highbeam Assist Plus for a safe, longer throw of light.

The E 350e is not intended to be a true EV, though the drive system allows you to cruise in pure “EV Mode” to a maximum speed of 130km/h. Maximum battery range is listed at 33km but this would be on a best-case scenario basis, we believe that an averaged-out 25km to 28km would be more of a realistic distance to accept.

There are four hybrid drive modes available, separate from the 5 selectable drive modes (confusing enough?). The more conventional “Hybrid” type drive mode, operates similar to what we are used to in regular hybrid cars, while two other modes, E-Mode and E-Save are opposites of each other, with “E-Mode” utilising more of the car’s electric drive system, while “E-Save” allows the car to be driven like a regular fuel-driven car, while retaining the charge for the battery. Lastly, there is also a “Charge” mode, which uses the engine to charge the battery (though I find this pointless, since you will be sacrificing fuel to charge the batteries).

Given the limited distance the electric drive provides, you would likely see yourself plugging in on a daily or on a once every two day frequency.

Charging the E 350e to 100% from 20% takes just 1.5 hours when utilising a wall box, while power, when drawn from a domestic socket would about double this to 3.5 hours.

Our Thoughts

While the entire country might not be ready for cars to be plugged in, there are those who are able to afford the little space  for a charger in their driveways, for a car which burns less. Perhaps the most important factor to a buyer is not one of saving the environment, but one of saving fuel, while still being able to enjoy a car which delivers the performance similar to one with a much larger engine.

Selling a car built for a niche market here can be tough, and we always believe that the first mover tends to win, and in this case, BMW has had their 5 Series PHEV on the market for a year now.

In Summary

We Like

Electric drive means immediate acceleration, Lovely torque, Interior is a nice place to be in

We Don't

Power transfer from electric drive to the petrol engine is rough, Wing mirrors block the view of the driver when making turns

Verdict

Green luxury for those who can afford to drive a little greener (in this case we actually believe it to be more to the tune of slightly more affordable day-to-day luxury coupled with big engined performance)

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Engine

Engine Capacity 1991cc Turbocharged
Engine Type Inline 4
Compression Ratio 9.8:1
Bore x Stroke (83 x 92)mm
Power 208bhp
Torque 350Nm
Power to Weight 108.1 bhp per ton

Performance

Acceleration 250s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 6 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 40.0 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Drive Type FR
Steering Electric

Measurements

Body Type Sedan
Dimension
(L x W x H)
(4923 x 1852 x 1468) mm
Wheelbase 2939 mm
Turning Circle 11.6 metres
Kerb Weight 1925 kg
Boot Capacity 400 L
Fuel Tank Capacity 50 L

Brakes

Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Ventilated Discs