The locally assembled C-Class plug-in hybrid now competes directly against the Bavarian-born but locally-assembled BMW 330e with a 252hp / 420Nm 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, which made its local debut in August, but now plays second fiddle to the Mercedes in terms of output and equipment.
Firstly, the C 350 e is currently priced on-the-road with GST without insurance at RM289,888 - some RM40,000 more expensive than the Bavarian, and uses a seven-speed 7G-Tronic Plus automatic transmission to manage the familiar 2.0-litre (1,991cc) M274 aluminium engine - producing 211hp at 5,500rpm and 350Nm of torque from 1,200 to 4,000rpm as per the C 250.
Two more variants are due to make the scene in the near future - one after another, starting with the Avantgarde receiving an upgraded AMG interior that will be similarly priced at RM294,888, and then followed by the range-topping AMG at RM299,888 later on.
Also, there's a 6.2kWh lithium-ion battery mounted under the boot's floor board (reducing the 475-litre boot to 335 litres - expandable to 1,370 litres with the seats folded down) to provide the necessary 'juice' for its electric motor to generate 80hp and 340Nm - bringing the car's combined output to 279hp and 600Nm.
With the charge socket located at the rear-right of the car's bumper, the battery can be fully charged from 10% to 100% in about one hour 45 minutes with the 230V 16A 3.7kW single-phase wallbox (RM7,000) or about two hours with a 230V 13A 3.0kW wall socket.
The combined output allows the C 350 e to reach 100kph from standstill in 5.9 seconds before reaching an electronically limited top speed of 250kph. Meanwhile it has the ability to sip on 2.1 litres of petrol per 100km and emit just 48g of CO2 per kilometre. On pure electric mode, it has a top speed of 130kph and a range of 31km.
The car may come with the usual driving modes of Economy, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual, it now adds four operating modes that include Charge (uses combustion engine to help recharge battery while driving), E-save (uses combustion engine when driving), E-mode (uses electric motor when driving), and Hybrid (uses combustion and electric motor when driving).
To make it stand out from it's non plug-in hybrid siblings, splashes of blue have been applied and can be found in places such as the brake callipers that bite down on the cross-drilled discs and are partially obscured by the 19-inch wheels with 225/40 series Continental ContiSportContact 5 SSR tyres.
The blue is also found in the front badges and the decals streaked on the lower portions of the doors as well as uniquely applied to the front LED Intelligent Light System headlights that comes with Adaptive Highbeam Assist and LED daytime running lights.
Inside, it's leather upholstery for the four-way powered seats with memory while a combination of black piano-lacquer-look and aluminium trim accents the cabin.
Manual roller sunblinds have been integrated into the rear doors with a powered sunblind for the rear window as the list of goodies get extended with a sunroof, comfort-oriented Airmatic air suspension, 360-degree view camera system, active parking assist, keyless entry and a tri-zone Thermotronic automatic climate controls with pre-conditioning - allowing owners to preset the climate controls to activate at a desired time and bring the cabin to a preferred temperature prior to departure.
Additionally, it gets fitted with an 8.4-inch dash-mounted display, an Audio 20 CD multimedia system with 7.0-inch screen controls the 13 speaker 590-Watt Burmester surround sound system while providing radio/CD/MP3 playback, a SD-card slot, two USB ports and Bluetooth connectivity.
Furthermore, there's also a powered tailgate, comfort-direct steer system, cruise control, adaptive brake lights, tyre pressure monitoring system, touchpad with controller, Garmin-based navigation, collision prevention assist plus (with autonomous braking at speeds up to 200kph), pre-safe system (prepares occupants for impact) and attention assist.
According to Mercedes-Benz Malaysia sales and marketing passenger cars vice president Mark Raine, the company is very confident about the car's acceptance by the Malaysian public.
He also mentioned that since the C 350 e had its August preview, response has been more than positive with an undisclosed number of bookings having already been received.
Rendezvous with Mercedes-Benz C 350 e in San Francisco
Carsifu drives the BMW 330e plug-in hybrid