Mercedes-Benz E 350 e Plug-In Hybrid
AutoVolt Magazine|July-August 2017

This is Mercedes-Benz’s attempt to make a petrol plug-in hybrid more economical than its more popular diesels, using the now tried and tested 2.0-litre direct injection petrol engine with an electric motor via an automatic gearbox.

Jonathan Musk
The aim is to provide luxurious electric drive in towns and cities to reduce pollution (and tax), while retaining the usual ‘E’ business-class refinement, opulent trim and power that Mercedes customers demand.

Stepping into the big car for the first time, a welcoming display of gentle lighting, plush leather, aluminium detailing and massive screens fills me with a real sense of satisfaction. This is a quality looking cabin that certainly has the wow factor.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the experience. While appearances are certainly very good, the quality feels only skin deep. It’s more about show rather than longevity and sure enough on this particular car that has covered just a few thousand miles from new, it was already starting to show wear. Every control in the cabin has a soft touch to it, which sadly gives the feeling that it’s fragile and about to break. For example, the large and heavy doors are opened with a softly sprung door handle. The driver’s information screens are controlled by two thumb sensors like you’d find on a Blackberry phone. They’re a neat idea in theory and while the car’s stationary, but on a vaguely bumpy road it’s all too easy to change a setting by accident or end up with an option you didn’t want. Then there’s the laptop-like mouse controller, which provides a touch sensitive area to navigate between menus on the non-touch screen. Again, it’s fine when stationary, but on the move it’s difficult to master with any degree of accuracy. Because it sticks up in the air, it’s also a nuisance and hides important mode buttons from the driver that are mounted on the far side of it. All that said, one could argue that the controls are all very refined. No effort in terms of strength or power is required to operate anything at all and that, I imagine, is what Mercedes were aiming for. In a word; effortless.

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