The new Mercedes C-Class Hybrid could be seen as a tax break for millionaires. You know, the sort of people that can afford to spend close to £40,000 on a new car and don’t worry about the pence per litre price when picking a petrol station.
That’s because the addition of a 27bhp electric motor to the standard Mercedes engine means that the C300’s emissions drop below the magic figure of 100 grams of carbon per kilometre. And on paper, at least, it’s very green. This means road tax and congestion charge-free motoring and fewer petrol receipts for George Osborne to play with.
Yet in many ways the new C300 is actually a frugal diesel saloon, though it certainly has the luxury feel that millionaires hanker for. On the motorway, the C300 really floats along, eating up the miles with barely an engine hum. It has the interior of a car from the class above, too, with a large colour screen and expanse of brushed metal and leather. It’s not as focused or sharp to drive as the conventionally powered C-Class, but put your foot down and you’ll get to where you want to go. But then – at least with my test model – that’s when the problems start. A fault with the passenger window meant that it stayed open a crack regardless of which button I pressed and how many times I restarted the car.
It will have been fixed in moments back at the Mercedes workshop, but at motorway speed it resulted in an almighty rushing wind noise – not the sort of thing you’d expect in a limousine pretender. And slowing down (for the sake of my eardrums) helped me realise that something else wasn’t quite right about the C300.
There’s little inside to show that it’s a green car, but a not-so-close inspection of the economy dials revealed that it’s not really much greener than a standard diesel saloon. The electric motor only works below 20mph and then only for short distances, while the official economy figure is a pipe dream. It’s by no means a planet-wrecker, but it seems a bit rich to offer a tax-break on something that isn’t as green as my dad’s second-hand VW Golf. Perhaps green-friendly millionaires won’t mind about that, as long as they can get their window to close.
Mercedes C300 BlueTec Hybrid
ENGINE CAPACITY 2.1-litre turbo-diesel
POWER OUTPUT 201 bhp, plus 27 bhp
TOP SPEED 155 mph
FUEL ECONOMY 78.4 mpg
CO2 EMISSIONS 98g/kmReuse content