Mercedes-Benz has made its own E-Class look old and outdated after it launched all-new generations of its S- and C-Class. The E-Class only got a facelift (albeit one that completely transforms its fascias), but it still feels like a car from 2015 inside, and for some buyers that might be a plus point.
The manufacturer opted not to sell the E-Class as a PHEV in the United States, but here in Europe we actually get three distinct plug-in hybrid combinations: the E300e, E300e 4Matic and the E300de, which is a diesel-electric plug-in version that’s actually one of the punchiest versions of the model.
The one I drove was the E300e 4Matic, with 320 horsepower and 700 Nm (516 pound-feet) of torque that’s sent to all four wheels. It sprints to 100 km/h in 5.9 seconds, tops out at 245 km/h (145 mph) and generally feels very muscular and eager to pick up and accelerate from pretty much any speed.
This punchiness comes courtesy of a 120 horsepower / 400 Nm (295 pound-foot) electric motor that’s built into the nine-speed automatic gearbox. It actually makes the E300e fairly brisk even when in pure-electric mode, which the car can maintain at speeds of up to 140 km/h (87 mph) when the 2-liter four-cylinder turbo springs into life to provide additional power and electricity.
The battery pack is comparably small by modern PHEV standards, with just 13.5 kWh capacity (the same as the pre-facelift model). This betrays the W213’s older roots, because the same powertrain in the newer C-Class has a much bigger 25.4 kWh battery that provides almost 100 km (62 miles) of electric driving according to the WLTP test cycle.
The E300e 4Matic that I drove can’t even come close, especially since the optional all-wheel drive negatively affects the range. It can travel up to a claimed 54 km on one charge, versus 59 km in the rear-wheel drive-only model.
The battery pack is located between the trunk and the rear seats and it actually eats into cargo space, reducing it considerably, from 540 liters to 370 liters. It also adds a big step that will make sliding items to the back more difficult, although this is to be expected in a plug-in hybrid sedan.
Out on the road I found the E300e 4Matic to be a great companion and with the battery charged, I found that I was actually averaging around 2 l/100km, although when it ran out and I couldn’t find a charger, it quickly jumped to well over 12 l/100km. By the end of my time with the vehicle, my average consumption figure was 9.6 l/100km and I only charged it once over the several days that I had it.
It’s also worth noting that the vehicle does not offer a dedicated charging mode that would allow you to top up your battery and then choose pure-electric running. You can ask the car to preserve the state of charge that it has, but you can’t ask it to charge the battery above that point, which makes it a bit less useful than rivals.
You shouldn’t really use this type of system to charge your PHEV, because it’s inefficient, it creates a lot of heat and wear on components, but it’s still nice to have and use it in certain situations. The only way to charge the E300e is through the Type 2 port located on the rear bumper and you have to wait for around 90 minutes for it to fully charge, at a peak rate of 7.4 kW.
Driving the E300e is a pleasant experience, although it feels nowhere near as modern as Mercedes’ newer sedans, even with the exterior makeover and the addition of MBUX inside. However, some people may find its slightly older school feel appealing, and appreciate that it still plenty of the most advanced features.
It is quite expensive as a plug-in hybrid, though, and for the money, I really can’t say it’s better than a comparable BMW 530e, or any other luxury executive sedan. However, it’s still a great, lovable sedan that wafts you to wherever you need to go, just like any E-Class, only this one will sometimes only run on electricity.