PLUG-IN POWER: Mercedes-Benz has unveiled its second plug-in hybrid model, after its frugal S500, in the form of the C350 - both in Saloon and Estate guise. Image: Mercedes-Benz
DETROIT, Michigan - Mercedes-Benz has installed its hybrid technology in the C-Class, including the Estate, following its debut in the S-Class. The car is on display at the 2015 Detroit auto show here.
The automaker believes the dynamism and efficiency of the C350 plug-in hybrid make it a convincing proposition in both Saloon and Estate guise. With a range of about 30km in battery mode, local emissions-free driving is now a reality.
Mercedes' first hybrid was announced in September 2014 in the form of the super-frugal S500 which will be offered in long-wheelbase form with a V6 bi-turbo petrol engine capable of 2.8 litres/100km and 65g/km of CO2 emissions.
Its four-cylinder petrol engine, in conjunction with a powerful electric motor, gives it a total system output of 205kW and 600Nm, says Mercedes. Thus the C350 plug-in delivers the performance of a sports car and certified consumption figures of 2.1 litres/100km both as either Saloon or Estate.
This corresponds to CO2 emissions of 48g/km (49g for the Estate). Each is also equipped as standard with air suspension plus aircon that can be controlled remotely via a cellphone. Chill the car before you get to the car park.
Mercedes-Benz says the C 350 plug-in hybrid will be at UK dealers from March 2015.
Group research boss Thomas Weber said at the reveal in Detroit: "The plug-in hybrid is an investment in the future of Mercedes-Benz and we believe it will become established as the successful technology for maximum efficiency coupled with powerful dynamic performance.
"We will launch 10 new plug-in hybrid models through to 2017."
The C 350 plug-in hybrid is the second hybrid in the new C-Class (first was the C 300 BlueTEC Hybrid) and the second Mercedes with plug-in hybrid technology. It uses an electrical energy storage unit and a high-voltage lithium-ion battery pack with a total capacity of 6.2kWh, which can be charged from an external power source.
The battery is water-cooled, weighs around 100kg, and is mounted in a sheet-steel housing underneath the rear axle order to maximise crash protection, driving dynamics and boot space, says the automaker.
Thanks to an intelligent on-board charging system the battery can be recharged in around 45 minutes through a wall box or at a public charging points (230 V, 16 A, 3.7kW single-phase). Or, says Mercedes, you could charge via a standard domestic socket. Depending on the connection, a charge time of around two hours is achievable (with 230 V and 13 A, 3.0kW) - compared to the Mini Electric which takes all night!
Despite the space taken up by the battery, the car still has a boot capacity of 335 litres (Estate 350 or 1370 with the rear seats folded.
Mercedes also claims this hybrid-drive concept is combined with an efficient four-cylinder petrol engine for the first time. From a displacement of just under two litres, it produces 155kW/350Nm. Its direct injection system with spray-guided combustion uses electronically precise controlled multiple injection and fast multi-spark ignition.
The electric motor is capable of adding 60kW/340N.
Mercedes says the Saloon can sprint to 100km/h in 5.9sec, the Estate in 6.2. The Saloon has a claimed top speed of 250km/h, the Estate 246km/h (heck, who's counting!) but each can manage of 2.1 litres/100km with 48g/km (49g/km for the Estate).
We'll let you know about that if and when the cars are launched in South Africa...