At the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit this January, Mercedes-Benz announced that the C-Class would be debuting a new version to go alongside the C300, C400 and C450 AMG® sedans.
The C350 Plug-In Hybrid, however, raised some eyebrows.
We know what hybrids are: they’re super-efficient and use battery power plus regenerative braking. So what exactly is a plug-in hybrid?
A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, in this case a C-Class PHEV, has a special drivetrain. Like a regular hybrid, it can operate on battery power. Unlike a regular hybrid, it can recharge its battery by plugging directly into an electrical socket.
In layman’s terms, PHEVs are more efficient and more powerful than regular hybrid vehicles. The C350 Plug-In Hybrid has a regular gasoline engine, plus an electric motor. Under normal conditions, the car can travel about 19 miles on the battery’s power alone. When driving on battery power, it uses no fossil fuels at all. If you make primarily small trips then, the PHEV will get you around with zero pollution and zero gas use.
The combination of electric motor and gas engine also makes for power that surpasses its standard gasoline counterpart. The C350 delivers 275 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque compared with the C300’s 241 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. Many race cars are now PHEVs for this reason.
But if efficiency is your goal, just switch to electric mode. When in electric mode, the accelerator pedal will actually push back against your foot to keep you from depleting the battery too quickly. Or, you can push through the pedal’s feedback to activate the turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
Other than this increase in performance and efficiency, the C350 PHEV is just like the C300. It’s surprising that a more efficient engine can also be more powerful, but that’s the beauty of plug-in hybrid electrics.
The C350 Plug-In Hybrid will arrive in the fall of 2015. If you live in Durham but want the best Mercedes, please visit us.