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The new 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class range has universally impressed CarAdvice testers, who have lauded it for its interior execution, exterior design fluency and style, and general performance and driving dynamics.
According to Mercedes-Benz though – performance variants aside – there was one glaring omission in the regular C-Class range. One missing piece of the puzzle if you will. That missing piece was a hybrid drivetrain.
With the local release of the C300 BlueTEC Hybrid, then, the C-Class range is almost complete. Left to follow is the head-kicking C63 AMG that will arrive in 2015, and there’ll be a six-cylinder engine added to the range some time after that.
CarAdvice got behind the wheel for a short drive in Victoria recently. We’ll undertake a full test when we get a C-Class Hybrid into the CarAdvice garage, but even a short run that took in a country loop and some city commuting was enough to gain an insight into just how competent this new model is.
Interestingly, despite testing the hybrid model at the local launch of the C-Class Estate, there will be no hybrid C-Class wagon available. The other interesting fact is that the hybrid utilises a diesel, not petrol, engine as you might expect. There’s a proper fuel efficiency story to be told too.
The hybrid’s consumption figure is impressive – 4.0L/100km on the ADR combined cycle. To give that figure some perspective, the most efficient regular C-Class model in the range is the C250 BlueTEC diesel, which sips 4.8L/100km. You can read our full C-Class pricing and specification details here.
By way of a quick comparison, it’s worth noting the price differences between the conventional diesel engine and the hybrid diesel engine. The C250 BlueTEC sedan starts at $70,400 plus on-road costs, while the C300 BlueTEC Hybrid starts at $74,900. Both vehicles share the same 2.1-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine, which generates 150kW and 500Nm. The seven-speed automatic gearbox is the same for both models and the CO2 output figure is the same too - 124g/km. Both vehicles also get the requisite five-star ANCAP rating.
Against the ADR claim, my road loop around the Yarra Valley in Victoria resulted in an indicated 5.0L/100km. I noticed when coasting downhill that the engine shut down completely, and then seamlessly integrated the diesel back into action when needed. The electric engine also delivers instant power, so there’s no shortfall from either turbo lag or while waiting for the diesel to get into its sweet spot.
Despite the impressively low fuel usage, the C300 BlueTEC Hybrid delivers more than enough off-idle grunt to get up to speed quickly. This vehicle isn’t solely about saving fuel, with the combination drivetrain generating a chunky 500Nm, which helps you get moving from a standstill or roll-on overtake quickly as well.
The hybrid sedan is therefore a genuine performance surprise. The hybrid system is set up in such a way that the electric motor works to assist the diesel engine but can also operate in stand-alone mode. The transition between either assisting or working solo is so smooth you’d be hard pressed to pick it. Driving the hybrid feels almost no different to driving any other conventional C-Class, which is both surprising and impressive. The C250 gets from 0-100km/h in 6.6 seconds, while the hybrid is slightly faster, taking only 6.4 seconds.
As I made my way back into the CBD following the country loop, the electric engine would work to keep the C-Class moving at low speed, and it also works in reverse when you’re maneuvering around parking lots at low speed, but I appreciated the fact that the diesel wasn’t constantly kicking into and out of life in crawling traffic.
An interesting comparo would be to run the conventional diesel and the hybrid diesel back-to-back. Let the CarAdvice team know if you’re interested in that idea and we’ll make it happen.
A quick look at the C250 BlueTEC and C300 BlueTEC Hybrid models indicates that the two vehicles are identically specified at the listed starting price. That means Mercedes-Benz is expecting buyers to part with $4500 to step into a faster, more efficient C-Class. Given the fuel efficiency gain of 0.8L/100km, it might take a while to recoup the outlay at the bowser, if you disregard the other benefits.
The hybrid system means the fuel tank capacity drops from 66 litres to 50 litres, and the boot space drops from 480 litres to 435 litres. There’s a small hump over the axle line that contributes to the space deficit, while the battery mounted up behind the back seat is the reason for the drop in fuel carrying capacity.
We noticed at launch that the hybrid sedan generates less road noise (at highway speed) than the new wagons we tested over the same roads. That could be related to tyres specifically, with the hybrid variant using lower rolling resistance rubber, but it’s worth noting that the hybrid sedan is particularly serene from behind the wheel at any speed.
We’ve reported at length on the segment-leading ergonomics and quality of the C-Class cabin and there’s nothing new to discuss here with the hybrid also sharing the same fixtures and fittings. The C-Class remains the absolute best on offer at the moment in this segment and at this price point.
The quality of the materials used and the fit-and-finish is de rigeur for the German marque, but the C-Class has lifted even further in terms of ergonomics, user friendliness, and the interface with the driver via the exceptional infotainment system.
Stay tuned for a more comprehensive look at the C300 BlueTEC Hybrid as soon as we can get one into the CarAdvice garage for a week.