Charg­ing ahead

The lat­est plug-in hy­brids from Ger­many offer not just fuel ef­fi­ciency but per­for­mance, lux­ury and pres­ence. We pit the Mercedes-Benz C 350 e against the BMW 330e.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Impressions - By JAY WONG and THOMAS HUONG Pho­tos by AZHAR MAHFOF

TO spur adop­tion of fuel-ef­fi­cient hy­brid and elec­tric cars, Gov­ern­ment in­cen­tives in the form or tax re­bates or pur­chase sub­si­dies are vi­tal.

This is where cars like the BMW 330e and Mercedes-Benz C 350 e plug-in hy­brids ben­e­fit tremen­dously from tax in­cen­tives de­signed to spur lo­cal assem­bly of EEVs (en­ergy ef­fi­cient ve­hi­cles).

For ex­am­ple, with­out the EEV in­cen­tives, the BMW 330e M Sport would be priced RM130,000 higher.

As it is, the 330e which is seen here in M Sport form, is priced at a more ac­ces­si­ble RM258,800.

Mean­while, the C 350 e is priced at RM289,888 (Avant­garde trim); RM294,888 (with AMG Line in­te­rior); RM299,888 (AMG Line ex­te­rior and in­te­rior).

Both the 330e and C 350 e use

lithium-ion bat­ter­ies that can be recharged by plug­ging to a charg­ing sta­tion or wall socket.

For ex­am­ple, with the 330e, a full charge us­ing a con­ven­tional do­mes­tic power socket would take five hours.

The BMW Wall­box Pro charg­ing sta­tion, mean­while of­fers a quicker charge time of 3.5 hours.

Com­pare this to the C 350 e, where the lithium-ion bat­tery can be fully charged from 10% to 100% in about one hour and 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.

What the lithium-ion bat­ter­ies pro­vide is the juice to run the cars in pure elec­tric mode; up to 35km in the BMW and 31km in the MercedesBenz.

Fuel con­sump­tion for both cars can be as low as 2.1 litres per 100km.

How­ever, in re­al­ity, it is quite im­pos­si­ble to achieve although ju­di­cious use of the hy­brid driv­ing modes can re­sult in fuel con­sump­tion of around 4.5 litres per 100km,

as seen on a fuel econ­omy chal­lenge for the C 350 e ear­lier this year.

Now, the bat­ter­ies and elec­tric pow­er­train also add vol­ume and weight.

This re­sults in the 330e M Sport hav­ing an un­laden weight of 1,735kg which is 190kg more than the non-hy­brid 330i M Sport.

As for the C 350 e, it has a kerb weight of 1,780kg which is 300kg more than the non-hy­brid C 250.

Due to the bat­ter­ies, both cars also lose boot space – the 330e M Sport has a 370-litre boot, com­pared with a 480-litre boot in a typ­i­cal 3 Se­ries.

The C 350 e has a smaller 335-litre boot (com­pared with a 480-litre boot in the C 250).

De­pend­ing on trim pack­age, the C 350 e is priced at least RM31,000 higher than the 330e.

At the higher price tag, the Mercedes-Benz buyer gets ex­tra kit such as the Air­matic air suspension which is pro­vided as stan­dard, for out­stand­ing ride com­fort with min­i­mal road roar and tyre vi­bra­tion.

Also stan­dard on the Mercedes- Benz is an ex­cep­tional sound ex­pe­ri­ence from a Burmester sur­round sound sys­tem, con­sist­ing of 13 speak­ers, a 9-chan­nel DSP am­pli­fier and an out­put of 590 watts.

The BMW, mean­while, gets a 205watt, nine-speaker HiFi au­dio sys­tem which we feel also pro­vides top­notch au­dio play­back qual­ity.

Both cars have run-flat tyres, and the Mercedes-Benz gets big­ger 19-inch wheels com­pared with the BMW, which has 18-inch rims.

The Mercedes-Benz pos­sesses a pow­ered tail gate for con­ve­nience.

Still, a big draw here is that the C 350 e is a more pow­er­ful ma­chine.

Both cars have 2.0-litre tur­bocharged engines, butt heC350e out­put san adrenalin-in­duc­ing 279 hp and 600Nm of torque, while the 330e gen­er­ates 252PS (249hp) and 420Nm of torque in com­par­i­son.

How­ever, this does not mean the 330e is a lag­gard as its zero to 100kph sprint is done in a re­spec­tivle 6.1 sec­onds (com­pared with 5.9 sec­onds forth eC350e ).

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