Why did I buy it? The multibeam LEDs and the fact it was a PHEV.
What improvements could be made for the future? A larger battery, better interaction with the multimedia, progression of autonomous features.
There's plenty of stuff written online about the new E-Class (W213), but I'm going to try to put stuff out there that isn't already online, in particular for the E350e plug-in electric hybrid.
The battery is 6.2kWh, and to test it versus gasoline, I drove the car on an identical course at 1am in the morning so that traffic wouldn't be an issue. The car ran in full-electric mode for 22.9km (i.e. almost 23km) from fully charged 100 per cent to 11 per cent at which point the petrol motor kicks in.
On exactly the same course with the car in E-save mode (i.e. not using any net electrical energy) it used 1.53L (at 6.7L/100km). To charge the car from 11 per cent to 100 per cent from a standard wall power point with the supplied charger required 6.3kWh. (NB: the same course driven by a Camry Hybrid used 6.0L/100km.)
For reference, the aforementioned course was in a NSW regional area encompassing speed zones between 50km/h and 80km/h, two traffic lights and 21 (yes 21!) roundabouts. Realistically, the battery alone can drive the car for between 16–20km, depending on the speed, amount of stop-start traffic and whether or not air-conditioning is required.
If you run your battery flat and then recharge it, you can think of it as adding 1.53L of petrol in terms of energy for use by the car. Using the above figures, 1L 98ULP = 4.1kWh.
It's cheaper than petrol, but how much cheaper depends on your own electricity tariff, whether you have time of use and whether you generate your own power with panels. Hence, if the car uses 10L/100km in petrol mode (E-save), it would need 41kWh/100km in pure electric mode.
A flaw in the system for reporting fuel consumption at present is the fact that hybrids don't have to report the amount of electricity used alongside their unrealistic fuel consumption figures (which for this vehicle is 2.4L/100km – ridiculous and not real).
The extra 1.53L of 'petrol-equivalent energy' you put into the car each day by plugging it into a wall socket may sound trivial, but for many trips around town, it's more than adequate. Depending on your driving, it can easily stretch your range between trips to the service station to over 100km.
The haptic accelerator in ECO mode is pretty funky. The acceleration in pure electric mode is quite brisk and more than enough for average around-town daily commuting. Specifically 0–60km/h in 8sec (electric only) and 0–20km/h feels quite brisk. It sounds pedestrian, but for the daily grind it's more than enough, and gets you out of the blocks faster than almost everyone else at the traffic lights if you really wanted to floor it in fully electric mode.
The car supplies a lot of data regarding fuel consumption, but minimal data on electricity consumption. I'd prefer it add references to kWh/100km in addition to L/100km when net electricity has been used.
The multibeam LED headlights (84 individual LEDs each side) are absolutely fantastic for driving on country roads at night. They are almost an essential feature for safe driving at night. They work really well and there has only been one occasion when they haven't switched off for an oncoming vehicle (a truck rising over a crest) in six months.
Autonomous tech is interesting – more a work in progress. It's fun but don't actually let the car drive itself. Watch the car like a hawk. The tech is great, and it's great to see it (autonomous driving) evolving, but it isn't quite there yet in this car.
In electric mode, the car is very quiet inside. It's quite a pleasant space to be in. The Camry Hybrid was pretty quiet, but this thing takes it to a new level. Ride comfort is pretty good too, but unfortunately you do feel the occasional pothole with the low-profile tyres regardless of the claims made about its air suspension. Small road imperfections are okay, but big potholes are still an issue. (A pothole caused a bulge in the sidewall of a tyre, which required replacement.)
The dual-screen interface is nice, but Mercedes-Benz could still do more work to make the interface more user-friendly. There are heaps of different views and panels of information that can be configured on the twin 12.3-inch screens. Great for the tech-head nerd! The touch pads on the steering wheel are nice to use. In summary, 4/5 for the interface. Voice recognition I'd only give 3/5. Good but not exceptional.
I haven't had any reliability issues with the car at this stage. Only with the tyres, but low-profile tyres can be an issue with all makes and models.
Boot space is good, and it's much better than the Camry Hybrid in being able to fold down the rear seats for extra carry room if required. The 360-degree camera system matched to the massive 12.3-inch screen is fantastic. Very useful for safety when maneuvering the car at slow speed around carparks and the like.
Apple CarPlay works but is a bit fiddly and slightly glitchy. Not the greatest success there but usable. I'm not a great fan of the air-con interface. A bit fiddly but you get used to it. Self-parking – most of the time I'd do a better job, especially reverse perpendicular parking, but it's useful for tight parallel-parking situations.
The wall charger supplied with the car only charges at 8A maximum, which is a shame. It is annoying that the Mercedes Wall Box costs so much, and I can't see myself getting it for such minimal benefit.
The multibeam LEDs are the real highlights. The car (and almost all new cars now) have heaps of safety features, but you only use them if you're unlucky enough to have an accident. However, you use the multibeam LEDs every night you drive an unlit country road. It is safety tech you use day in, day out, and it makes the driving at night easier, less stressful and safer.