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    Mercedes-Benz E-Class Hybrid 2022 review: E300e

    To many, the E-Class is the quintessential Benz. Does this PHEV version improve the formula? (image: Tom White)

    For all the glitz, glamour, and breadth of the Mercedes-Benz passenger car range, it's nice to see the E-Class sedan, to many, the Mercedes-Benz, still persevere.

    While Benz has re-invented its small cars and SUVs multiple times to stay up to date with global trends, the E-Class has soldiered on for the brand's faithful in the same form it always has, only now the time has come for its gradual steps into electrification.

    Dubbed the E 300 e, this plug-in hybrid variant aims to offer some of the experience of an electric car with all of the experience of Mercedes’ renowned executive sedan.

    But does this electric update improve the core Mercedes experience or only work to compromise it?

    I took this latest version for a week to find out.

    Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

    The Mercedes-Benz E-Class has a complicated range, consisting of multiple bodystyles as well as performance options, but the E 300 e is the only hybrid.

    It is the electrified version of what would normally be the mid-grade sedan, and it wears a starting price, before on-road cost (MSRP) of $122,872.

    Sitting below is the E 200 (from $98,576) and above is the E 350 (from $127,100) which replaces the old petrol-only E 300.

    It comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity. (image: Tom White) It comes with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity. (image: Tom White)

    Importantly, Mercedes ups the value equation by adding the ‘Air Body Control’ suspension package from the E 350 as opposed to the regular multi-link suspension on the E 200.

    The other thing which might surprise you if you haven't looked at the E-Class in a while, is only AMG-branded variants now have more than four cylinders, with the rest of the range sharing a version of the brand's 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine.

    Read more about that in the engine and transmission part of this review, but the value equation is a surprise given the E 300 e packs a 90kW electric motor and a 13.5kWh battery on top of air suspension.

    In the scheme of luxury sedans, this gives the E 300 e its niche, still coming in nearly $5000 below the E 350 (which offers a more powerful petrol engine, seat trim with a percentage of real leather, and larger alloy wheels), while being faster and more complex.

    Even on those 19-inch wheels little noise or discomfort makes its way into the plush cabin. (image: Tom White) Even on those 19-inch wheels little noise or discomfort makes its way into the plush cabin. (image: Tom White)

    Looking at the standard equipment on this mid-grade it's clear there's no taxi-spec E-Class in Australia, and you'd hope so with this car costing well over $100,000.

    Included is the impressive ‘MBUX’ array of dual 12.3-inch screens, one for the digital dash, one for the multimedia functions (which include built-in nav, digital radio, as well as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity), leather interior trim (at least, seats which are some percentage real leather, according to Benz), fully electrical adjust for the front seats, and an LED interior ambient lighting package (with a choice of 64 colours).

    Also on-board are a wireless phone charging bay, 19-inch alloy wheels (the 300 e has a different design to the base 200), dual-zone climate control, fully keyless entry with push-start ignition, an auto parking system and 360-degree surround cameras, and the full active safety suite, which we'll look at later.

    An AMG exterior styling pack is standard in Australia, and our test car had pretty much every option ticked, including the ‘Vision Package’ ($6600) which includes a panoramic sunroof, head-up display and premium 590W audio system, the ‘Innovation Package’ ($1300) which includes a more powerful version of the MBUX suite with gesture controls and extended voice control functionality, and the ‘Energizing Package Plus’ ($9500) which includes improved air filtration to the cabin, heated and cooled front seats with heated rear seats, and tri-zone climate (including a separate climate zone for rear occupants).

    The E 300 e is an E-Class, quieter and sleeker than before. (image: Tom White) The E 300 e is an E-Class, quieter and sleeker than before. (image: Tom White)

    This brings the total cost for our car to ($140,900) and that doesn't even include the Type 2 to Type 2 charging cable ($565.16) which you'll probably want for the convenience of topping up your charge levels whenever you stop at the shops (more on this later).

    If it were my Benz I'd probably leave off the ‘Innovation Package’ and ‘Vision Package’, although the pricey ‘Energizing Package Plus’ adds compelling upgrades.

    It's worth noting when it comes to rivals the Audi A6 range tops out at a suddenly-cheap-sounding $116,177, although there's currently no PHEV variant in Australia, while the BMW 530e PHEV comes in at a closer-to-the-mark $122,900 before you start ticking option boxes.

    Is there anything interesting about its design?

    The E-Class recently received a significant facelift to bring it in line with the brand's latest design ethos, and it serves to refine an already elegant sedan.

    The E-Class isn't just the brand's definition by reputation, but by its look, too. While some may be disappointed by how similar it now looks to the C-Class below, or the S-Class above, giving the core Mercedes sedan range near identical silhouettes, it cuts a unique path from its traditional rivals.

    BMW's 5 Series leans into a sharper and more aggressive design language, while Audi's A6 does much the same with a post-modernist edge.

    • The E-Class recently received a significant facelift to bring it in line with the brand’s latest design ethos. (image: Tom White) The E-Class recently received a significant facelift to bring it in line with the brand’s latest design ethos. (image: Tom White)
    • The E-Class isn’t just the brand’s definition by reputation, but by its look, too. (image: Tom White) The E-Class isn’t just the brand’s definition by reputation, but by its look, too. (image: Tom White)

    I'd argue the stoic Germanic stare of the E-Class’ softer face places the Mercedes exactly where it needs to be, but it doesn't stray from its sporty rear-drive underpinnings entirely.

    The car's new blacked-out highlights accentuate its width, and the 10-spoke alloys on our test car fill the wheelarches and draw your eye to the car's low stance and big brakes.

    A classic Benz beltline runs from the front lights to the rear, uniting a tidy and clearly well-built package.

    Included is the impressive ‘MBUX’ array of dual 12.3-inch screens. (image: Tom White) Included is the impressive ‘MBUX’ array of dual 12.3-inch screens. (image: Tom White)

    Inside and the more luxury-focused touch of the E-Class compared to rivals is evident. Lavish wood trims work their way through the doors and across the grandiose dash, and while the flashy screen fittings from the wider Benz range are present here, the interior is toned down several notches from the glitz of the brand's smaller vehicles.

    This offers it a much more stately ambiance, matched by the synthetic leather ‘Artico’ seats which are more like lounge chairs you sink into.

    The overall design links the E-Class with its siblings nicely, and there are a lot of the brand's re-imagined classic touches present, like the circular climate vents, wooden panel inserts, and silver-tinged toggles which run down the centre.

    Inside and the more luxury-focused touch of the E-Class compared to rivals is evident. (image: Tom White) Inside and the more luxury-focused touch of the E-Class compared to rivals is evident. (image: Tom White)

    It's not all retro, though, with the E-Class wowing observers with its giant single gloss panel hosting the multimedia suite and digital dash elements.

    Obviously, you can go further here, with a long list of optional interior colour and trim combinations to customise the E-Class to your heart's content, although I was happy with the classic black on brown woodgrain of our test car.

    How practical is the space inside?

    The E-Class takes many forms around the world, and one of them is a taxicab which makes a lot of sense because the E-Class is one of the few cars I've had on test of late that I'd actually like to be driven around in rather than always take the helm myself.

    The rear seat space is enormous behind my own driving position, and the detailed luxurious trims continue, complete with the dazzling milled silver speaker fittings, woodgrain trim, and in our test car, rear heated seats.

    Again, the seats are ones you simply sink into, and the window is nice and wide for great visibility.

    Alongside rear heated seats in our car, amenities include large bottle holders in the doors, flip-out ones in the armrest, hard shell pockets on the back of the front seats, as well as dual adjustable air vents with a lock-off.

    • The boot floor is an odd, tiered surface, with space reduced from a decent sedan-sized 540 litres (VDA). (image: Tom White) The boot floor is an odd, tiered surface, with space reduced from a decent sedan-sized 540 litres (VDA). (image: Tom White)
    • As you might be able to tell from the pictures, this shelf arrangement makes the space hard to use. (image: Tom White) As you might be able to tell from the pictures, this shelf arrangement makes the space hard to use. (image: Tom White)

    The front seats also offer generous space, comfortable and supportive designs, and a lavish space for full-sized adults with a high level of adjustability.

    As much as I hate the fact that you have to tick pricey option boxes on an already pricey car, the amenities they afford are properly luxurious.

    The seat heating, for example, extends to the armrests in the doors and centre console, and the third climate zone is a necessary touch if you're ferrying around rear passengers often.

    While a sedan like this is never going to have the ease of seating of an SUV, there are lots of little areas where this Benz shines.

    The rear seat space is enormous behind my own driving position. (image: Tom White) The rear seat space is enormous behind my own driving position. (image: Tom White)

    Proper four-door keyless entry is a nice touch. As is the ability to pre-condition the cabin, the way the doors open nice and wide, and the 40/20/40 split fold of the rear seats allow you to use the centre fold as a ski-port in European style.

    Up front, you can customise the digital dash how you see fit, and while the touch panel controls on the wheel and centre console can be clumsy at times, at least there are multiple ways to interact with the system, and a physical dial for volume control hasn't been forgotten.

    Over time I've even warmed to the centrally-located touchpad controller. It's easier to use than the one in Lexus products, and it's nice that I have a way to interact with the piano-gloss screen without needing to reach over to it while I'm concentrating on the road (leaving finger prints all over it in the process).

    Even things as simple as the car's instruction manual being entirely digitized into the multimedia suite, complete with search function, is just smart.

    It's nice to see the E-Class still embody the ancestral heritage of Mercedes-Benz. (image: Tom White) It's nice to see the E-Class still embody the ancestral heritage of Mercedes-Benz. (image: Tom White)

    The layout of the E-Class creates a significant reduction in boot space in this hybrid version, however.

    Because it's a rear-drive sedan, it requires the batteries to be awkwardly packaged under the floor and on top of the axle, so the boot floor is an odd, tiered surface, with space reduced from a decent sedan-sized 540 litres (VDA) in purely petrol variants to a hatchback-sized 370L in this PHEV.

    As you might be able to tell from the pictures, this shelf arrangement makes the space hard to use, although it did manage to fit our largest (124L) CarsGuide travel case on an angle.

    What are the key stats for the powertrain?

    The E 300 e has a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine producing 155kW/350Nm mated to a nine-speed torque converter automatic transmission, driving the rear wheels.

    The transmission contains an electric motor which is capable of producing 90kW/440Nm on its own, allowing full range of motion in the ‘Electric’ driving mode.

    It is also capable of hybrid assistance to the petrol motor, making the E 300 e the fastest non-AMG-badged E-Class model to 100km/h, with a claimed sprint time of just 5.7 seconds.

    The E 300 e has a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine producing 155kW/350Nm. (image: Tom White) The E 300 e has a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine producing 155kW/350Nm. (image: Tom White)

    It also has a 13.5kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which is good for a claimed electric-only driving range of 51km (on the more lenient NEDC testing cycle).

    It's a complex mix of gear, and the electric range I experienced was certainly less than 40km. In other words, it's used up very quickly.

    The Benz offers some interesting driving modes to help with this, which we'll explore later in this review.

    How much does it consume? What's the range like, and what it's like to recharge/refuel?

    All of this hybrid gear leads to impressive consumption figures. Officially the E 300 e will consume just 2.2L/100km on the combined driving cycle, with around 13.0kWh/100km of energy consumption worked in as part of that calculation.

    However, the hybrid Benz requires 98 RON premium fuel, has a smaller tank (60L) than its all-combustion counterparts, and its claimed 51km of NEDC range is more in the late thirties or early forties in the real-world in my experience.

    That said, our car consumed a blend of 5.6L/100km and 8.3kWh/100km in my time with it, which is a nice balance of fuel and energy consumption.

    The Mercedes-Benz E-Class has a complicated range, consisting of multiple bodystyles as well as performance options, but the E 300 e is the only hybrid. (image: Tom White) The Mercedes-Benz E-Class has a complicated range, consisting of multiple bodystyles as well as performance options, but the E 300 e is the only hybrid. (image: Tom White)

    I drove it with a lot of electric mode in the mix, but also had a day solely on the engine, and some experimenting with 'Sport' mode and 'Battery Saver' which is designed to maintain the battery level whilst using hybrid mode where it can.

    The E300 e accepts a European-standard Type 2 ‘Mennekes’ charging cable in AC form only. It can charge at a theoretical max speed of 7.4kW, although the max I extracted from my local solar-charged AC outlet was 7.2kW.

    It took around an hour and a half to get my E 300 e to about two-thirds charge. It would have charged to 100 per cent in around two hours using this method.

    It took around an hour and a half to get my E 300 e to about two-thirds charge. (image: Tom White) It took around an hour and a half to get my E 300 e to about two-thirds charge. (image: Tom White)

    Expect somewhere between four and five hours for it to charge to 80 per cent from a 2.4kW wall socket with the included charger.

    The system as a whole works well, but I wish it had more purely electric range. A battery closer to 20kWh would offer 60 or 70km of real-world range for a car of this weight, but would eat significantly more boot capacity.

    What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

    Mercedes’ impressive safety equipment is all present here in the E-Class. Active tech includes freeway-speed auto emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-keep assist with lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, traffic sign assist, and adaptive cruise control with stop and go function.

    The E 300 e grade also scores the higher spec ‘Multibeam’ LED light clusters, which have auto high-beams capable of dipping around oncoming traffic without turning down completely.

    It's an impressive suite backed by other Germanic upgrades like pre-crash cabin conditioning and seven airbags alongside the regular suite of electronic traction, brake, and stability controls.

    The E-Class officially wears a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating it carries across from the pre-facelift model in 2016, however this notably doesn't apply to MHEV or PHEV variants, which remain un-tested.

    Some things worth noting in particular about this system: The full Mercedes adaptive cruise suite is one of the most impressive on the market, with its active steering and distance control being the closest to Tesla's ‘autonomous’ driving modes you can get.

    Also, our car committed to a full AEB stop in the middle of a deserted suburban street in the middle of the night. There weren't even any parked cars nearby. Puzzling, but a reminder that these technologies aren't bulletproof.

    What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

    Mercedes covers all its passenger cars with a five year and unlimited kilometre warranty, beating out its primary Audi and BMW rivals which persist with three-year offerings, and generally out-performing the premium segment.

    The E-Class needs to be looked at once every 12 months or 25,000km, whichever occurs first, and like many German automakers, service packages can be bundled in at the time of purchase to bring overall costs down.

    In the case of the E-Class, this will set you back $2450 for three years, $3200 for four years, or $4800 for five years, at a claimed minimum saving (three years) of $550 compared to paying-as-you go.

    It's not as expensive or as unknown as it used to be here, but at close to $1000 per year, even when purchasing via the pre-paid packs, it's still very much at the premium end.

    What's it like to drive?

    For all the electrification and evolution in Mercedes-Benz’ greater range, it's almost like coming home to sit in the E-Class.

    Not only does the E 300 e stay true to the brand's luxury sedan roots with the comfort and refinement on offer, but it's perhaps the one variant in the E-Class range that makes a significant stride toward the future of the nameplate.

    I'm sure we'll see a fully electric version of the E-Class in the near future (the brand is shifting to electric-only with an aggressive timeline), but for now, at this price, hybrid is the way forward for luxury sedan refinement.

    The way this car blends its electric and combustion modes is notably smooth, and the engine is so distant it's genuinely hard to tell when it turns on, unlike this car's smaller A 250 e PHEV hatch sibling which takes a major drop in refinement when the rattly 1.3-litre four-cylinder engine needs to be relied upon.

    This is likely due to the higher-end nature of the 2.0-litre engine and nine speed longitudinally mounted transmission in a much larger and heavier car. One thing I've never liked about the Mercedes PHEVs (and is a common problem among many PHEVs) is the ‘hybrid’ mode could be a bit smoother and more transparent on how it divides its time between electric and with the engine on. At times it runs the engine at the lights for no reason, and it seems unusually keen to turn it on when it could be using electric power. Perhaps we are spoiled by the simplicity and twenty years of refinement of Toyota's Hybrid Synergy drive, but it has the affect of making you wish every hybrid was as good.

    The default ‘Comfort’ mode, while the most forgiving in terms of this car's ride, is weighted toward entirely draining the battery before it uses combustion power. The extra drive modes and customisation this PHEV offers are very useful though. Battery Saver mode lets you rely predominantly on combustion power. It's better to use on the freeway where combustion power is at its most efficient, allowing you to switch back to Comfort or Electric when you're stuck in traffic.

    Sport hunkers the E-Class down for a sportier and firmer experience, and it also tweaks the accelerator response and auto transmission for a far more aggressive driving tune. As this mode won't use the electric motor at all, even at low speeds, it can be handy to use it to charge the battery via regenerative braking for times when you might not have access to a charger.

    In fully electric mode, the regen braking can be tweaked to the max using the paddle shifters to increase your electric efficiency and range.

    Like the smaller A 250 e, it's a highly customisable experience, letting you experience as much or as little electrification as you want in the moment, although in this case it's let down a little by the limited battery capacity.

    Still, the E 300 e is an E-Class, quieter and sleeker than before. The ride is as stately as the interior suggests, and even on those 19-inch wheels little noise or discomfort makes its way into the plush cabin. The transmission is as close to an old ‘slush-o-matic’ you can get, and I mean that in a good way. Unless you're in one of the Sport modes, it will never interfere with the experience from behind the wheel.

    Once you do awaken it in Sport or Sport + though, it shifts, even via paddles, with a surprising urgency, and it's in those modes where the air suspension transforms the cosy barge-like ride from Comfort or Electric into something far more rigid and responsive.

    The dynamic breadth of ability in this car is a reminder of what premium money like this can buy. On the one hand you have the luxury of an economical comfort saloon, and on the other you have at least an inkling of semi-electrified performance at the flick of a switch.

    Just remember to plug it in when you get home, or you're lugging around a lot of battery for no good reason.

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    It's nice to see the E-Class still embody the ancestral heritage of Mercedes-Benz, a brand which has had much change forced upon it in the last decade.

    This hybrid one in particular does a remarkable job of blending the future and the past in one deeply capable and customisable package, but not one without its flaws.

    While the E 300 e manages to unite these elements nicely, it's ultimately held back by its classic rear-drive underpinnings which have consequences for packaging and electric range.

    $122,872

    Based on new car retail price

    Score

    4/5
    Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.