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.
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 ).