Compact executive cars are big business in the fleet market, with low emissions meaning lower tax. That’s why Mercedes has introduced a diesel-electric C300 BlueTEC Hybrid, which emits 99g/km, to the new C-Class Estate range.
Under the bonnet you’ll find the same 201bhp 2.1-litre diesel used in the C250 BlueTEC. The difference here, though, is the addition of a 27bhp electric motor. With the motor filling in at low revs, the engine’s turbo lag is effectively cancelled out, making it feel much quicker than the standard diesel.
Officially, 0-62mph takes 6.7 seconds. With the same engine as the C250 you’d expect similar issues with refinement, but because the diesel is less stressed in this case, it’s not as bad. You can pull away in electric mode, and if you’re gentle you’ll be able to eke out about a mile of electric power. Overall, the powertrain is well integrated so you won’t feel any shunting as it switches between the motor and the engine.
One thing we did notice, though, was the regenerative braking system. It’s more difficult to come to a smooth stop than in a conventional C-Class Estate.
Thankfully, the ride and the interior are as impressive as they are on any other C-Class. Our car was on optional air-suspension (£895), which gives the feeling of a mini S-Class on motorways. With the extra weight of the batteries on board, there is more of a tendency to thud into potholes, though.
And while the claimed 74.4mpg may be unachievable – we saw more like 50mpg – those 99g/km emissions do mean big savings. As a company car buyer, you could end up paying around £700 less a year if you opt for the Hybrid over the equivalent C250 BlueTEC, despite it costing about £2,500 more.