With a total 315bhp and 516lb ft of torque, however, the performance is brisk. The E will always try to pull away using the electric motor only because of its low-speed torque delivery, but if you want a fast getaway the engine starts almost immediately. Despite feeling the gearchanges, the installation is highly refined and at speed gentle throttle applications will see the engine stop and the car ‘gliding’ using just a smidgeon of electric power, which is just charming.
And while there’s no sense of one dominating drivetrain, diesel or petrol, the PHEV seamlessly combines volts and hydrocarbons to give a sporting feel and big-numbers performance.
There’s been a dream-like quality to the introduction of this car. I was driven in it back in January and noted that the air suspension seemed really good but that the PHEV system needed work. Then we drove it briefly last month and it fulfilled its promise, but was in a form that might or might not make it to the UK and for which there was very little in the way of accurate information.
What I can tell you is that the petrol plug-in hybrid is powerful, responsive, quite fun and, on paper at least, quite economical. For company car users, there’ll be lucrative benefit-in-kind tax savings, but high-mileage business drivers might be further tempted by the plug-in hybrid diesel version, which gives even bigger fuel savings.
Will that diesel PHEV model make it to the UK? Will air suspension? Erm, no one seems absolutely sure. We’ll get back to you when and if they are, but I wouldn’t hold your breath.
2020 Mercedes-Benz E-class 300e EQ saloon
TESTED 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo petrol engine and a 48-volt plug-in hybrid system with 13.5kWh lithium-ion battery; nine-speed automatic gearbox, rear-wheel drive
PRICE/ON SALE from £46,000 (£87,727 as tested)/now
ENGINE 208bhp @ 5,500rpm/258lb ft @ 4,500rpm
ELECTRIC MOTOR 110bhp/324lb ft
TOTAL SYSTEM OUTPUT 315bhp/516lb ft
TOP SPEED 155mph
ELECTRIC-ONLY RANGE 33 miles
ACCELERATION 0-62mph in 5.7sec
FUEL ECONOMY 51.4mpg
CO2 EMISSIONS n/a
VERDICT Grand, grown-up (and expensive if you tick the options boxes), in this air-suspended PHEV form the facelifted E-class is, more than ever, a brilliantly engineered combination of performance saloon and economical and comfortable mile-eater. Trouble is, it isn’t the best looking car among its peers and we’re still not exactly sure which models are coming to the UK.
TELEGRAPH RATING Four stars out of five
BMW 530e, from £46,820
Very nice plug-in hybrid concentrating on economy and all-electric running (range 29 miles) rather than out-and-out performance. In the canon of executive German saloons the 5-series is the driver’s choice, but this generation is comfortable for passengers, too.
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