As we approach the third quarter of 2016, we witness the automotive sector experiencing slow growth and decline in sales. However, that is not stopping Mercedes-Benz Malaysia (MBM) from introducing yet another variant to their C-class line up.
Here we have is a preproduction C-class C350e plug-in hybrid on preview. With the overwhelming success of S400h and E300 Bluetec hybrid models , MBM are taking their hybrid game to the next level. As you all know the S400h is a conventional hybrid, the E300 Bluetec hybrid is a diesel hybrid. Now to up the hybrid game, the C350e comes with a petrol plug-in hybrid system.
|Engine||1,991cc; turbocharged inline-four with battery motor|
|Transmission||7G-Tronic; 7-speed automatic|
|Max Power||211 hp @ 5,500 rpm|
|Max Torque||350 Nm @ 1,200 – 4,000 rpm|
|Hybrid Motor Output||80 hp & 250 Nm|
|Combined Max Power / Torque||279 hp / 600 Nm|
|0 – 100 km/h; Top Speed||5.9 seconds; 250 km/h|
|Fuel Consumption||2.4 litres per 100km|
Right after the launch of the SKD GLC 250, MBM has no intentions to slow down and let their competitors take a breather. The C350e is clearly MBM’s answer to the upcoming BMW 330e plug-in hybrid. The C350e will be locally assembled here at their Pekan plant in Pahang. Therefore, it will benefit from the incentives offered by the government for CKD hybrids. As such, the new C-class variant is expected to carry a RM299k price tag.
The price may be a huge turn off for some, considering the BMW 330e only asks for RM240k. However, reflecting on MBM’s line-up, the new plug-in hybrid is set to replace the RM307k C300 AMG. In that respect, the C350e is definitely value for money for a top of the range non AMG C-class.
Under the hood, the C350e employs the same engine and transmission from the C250. The 2.0-litre turbocharged unit delivers 211 hp and 350 Nm when paired to a seven speed automatic transmission. On top of that, the C-class is propelled further with an electric motor with 80 hp and 340 Nm of torque. This results to a combined figure of 279 hp and a whopping 600 Nm! With those figures, you will reach the century mark in 5.9 seconds while sipping 2.4 litres of fuel per 100km.
On the hybrid performance side, the C350e is capable of 31 km in pure electric mode with a full charge and a limited top speed of 130km/h. The battery requires two hours of charge time from a Mercedes-Benz charging box or four hours from your regular 240V three-pin socket.
The charging point on the C350e accessible at the right rear bumper is not compatible with the public chargers in Malaysia because the car comes with a more advanced Mark 2 adaptor while the public stations uses a Mark 1 point. However, MBM claims that with their Intelligent Powertrain Management, the battery is being recharged efficiently while you’re driving.
The hybrid engine comes with 4 different driving modes: HYBRID, the default setting to manage the powertrain based on driving needs, E-MODE, full electric driving mode, E-SAVE, full petrol mode to preserve battery power and lastly CHARGE, as the name suggests, charges the battery pack. Besides that, drivers are able to switch the transmission and AIRMATIC dynamics into five different modes: Individual, Sport+, Sport, Comfort and Economy.
One clever feature of the C350e is the haptic throttle pedals. When E-Mode is engaged, the throttle paddles will send small nudges to the driver indicating that the electric performance is at its maximum. This will remind drivers that any throttling beyond that point will bring the combustion engine to life.
Besides that, there are also intelligent radars that scans the vehicle in front. If the vehicle in front is slowing down, the haptic pedals will nudge the drivers twice to recommend the driver to lift of the throttle to coast, effectively recharging the battery.
The preproduction car here wears an Exclusive trim but the production version will come standard in the sportier AMG trim. Customers will also get 19-inch AMG wheels as standard. Other than that the equipment list according to Mark Raine, VP of Sales and Marketing Mercedes-Benz Malaysia are identical to the C300 AMG and more. Features such as full LED-intelligent headlamps with high beam assist, electric panoramic sliding sunroof and 590 watts 13-speaker Burmester surround sound system are all carried over to the C350e.
In addition to those goodies, MBM has also thrown in triple-zone climate control, AIRMATIC suspension, 360o view camera and Pre-conditioning function as standard. The air suspension is the first in the segment to come as a standard feature. The pre-conditioning system is basically turning on the climate control to cool your cabin before you enter the vehicle. The air conditioning will be turned on for a maximum of 50 minutes before switching itself off.
With the introduction of the C350 CKD, the top of the range C-class (barring the AMG models) has become more accessible than ever. Compared to the outgoing C300 AMG, the new variant has the performance to match, more equipment and most importantly almost RM9k of savings; there’s nothing to miss about the outgoing C300 AMG. Now, the problem is the BMW 330e, which is launching this Friday (August 26th 2016)!