2016 Mercedes-Benz C350: Luxury Gets the PHEV Treatment

Written By: EightySix

Edited By: Assen Gueorguiev

2016 Mercedes-Benz C-350 Plug-In Hybrid. Detroit auto show
photo credit - benzinsider.com

News from the North American International Auto Show continues with the launch of the Mercedes-Benz C350 Plug-In Hybrid. This green luxury sedan has an electric range of twenty miles. It can reach sixty miles per hour in 5.9 seconds with a top speed of 130. In all-electric mode, it tops out at 80.

The PHEV is based on the C250 and has slightly smoother lines. It has a 2.0 liter turbo-charged 4-cylinder engine paired with an electric motor of undisclosed size. The liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack, also of undisclosed capacity, is mounted in the trunk and consumes about 10% of the 11.7 cubic feet.

It brings a lot of punch for a plug-in: 275 combined horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. The driver can select one of four modes: Hybrid, E-Save, Charge and E-Mode.

In E-Save, the C350 runs on gas only and reserves electric power for later.

Charge mode is also gas only, with maximum brake regeneration to recharge the battery.

E-Mode is all-electric and features innovative feedback on the accelerator. The pedal will push back if you try to accelerate too hard, warning you that you're about the engage the gas motor.

One of a Family

Mercedes plans to debut ten new hybrid models by 2017. The S500 was the first out the gate, using a twin-turbo 3.0 liter V6 with electric help to deliver 436 horsepower. Sixty miles per hour arrives in under five seconds. It includes some autonomous driving features. Wireless charging is a rumor but not quite a reality. The price tag is $146,000.

How much will the C350 cost? A base 2015 C300 sedan starts at $38,400. A base S550 sedan starts at $94,400. Will the plug-in package increase the price by 50%? Probably not, but expect the C350 to start in the upper 40s.

2016 Mercedes-Benz C-350 Plug-in Hybrid

What Do Mercedes-Benz Fans Think About It?

Early critiques included dislike for the paint and chrome declarations of "Plug-In Hybrid" on the doors and trunk. The door paint is certainly just an auto show thing. The S500 had MPG estimates written on its flanks when it debuted in Frankfurt. The badge on the trunk is probably here to stay. No one is embarrassed to have "Kompressor" or "AMG" on the tail of their Benz. Or are they?

Fans like that they get all the luxurious touches and solid drive they expect plus some pure electric range. 20 miles will cover a lot of routine driving. With a charger at home and perhaps at the office, owners will rarely fuel up. And it looks nothing like, to use a new Elon Musk term, a "weird-mobile". It's all Mercedes-Benz. Except for the trunk badge, the only hint of green is the well-hidden charge port under the right tail light.

Critics ask if luxury hybrids make any economic sense. Is it logical spending money to save a little gas with grand style? Benz fans say it isn't about money. It's about reduced consumption and carbon output. Besides, automakers have little choice. Every one of them needs to adapt to stricter efficiency and emissions laws.

You probably already guessed it, but the C350 will be sold only in California emissions states. Sales are expected to begin in the fall.

Is this a major leap in environmentally-friendly transportation? No, but everyone must do their part. Mercedes delivered with trademark style.