Mercedes E-class 2024 review – plug-in hybrid E300e tested

The new Mercedes E-class proves there’s still life in the traditional, well engineered exec saloon

Evo rating
Price
from £70,900
  • Powertrain efficiency and capability
  • Expensive and not exactly exciting

You have to feel for Mercedes. It spent a sizable country’s GDP developing its EQE electric saloon, but has since launched a new regular E-class that, in E300e plug-in hybrid trim, knocks the EV out of the continent in every single area. 

Forget the noise and nonsense around plug-in hybrids not being a solution for those unwilling to make the jump to a full EV just yet. Some say that hauling two powertrains around with you in a PHEV is a self-defeating prospect, and while this might have been true when the original PHEVs arrived over a decade ago and were, quite frankly, an embarrassment, the current crop are exactly what many need today: zero emission driving in urban environments and not a whiff of charge anxiety when further afield. 

With a usable and realistic electric range of 70 miles from its 25kWh battery and a 2-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine that’s good for another 350 miles hooked up to a nine-speed auto, the E300e passes up on the headline grabbing attention and instead just gets on with it. 

In the single-digit temperatures of mid-December we achieved 60 miles of electric driving on every road type at the same speeds we would cover them in an ICE powered E-class before the four-pot ignited. At no time did the electric drive feel a hindrance, its instant torque more manageable and less all or nothing compared to a pure EV, which makes it so much calmer and less frantic. 

Even when the battery is running low there’s always some charge left to start every journey in silence, and the switch to the 207bhp petrol engine is seamless. Although not serene, as it’s not the quietest of engines. It sounds coarse at times and isn’t the smoothest across its power and torque bands (406lb ft combined by the way). But despite hauling 2210kg around (400kg more than the E200 that shares the same internal combustion engine) it doesn’t feel breathless or lethargic. For the driving it’s designed to do there’s little to complain about how the E300e deploys its energy. 

Customers in the UK are only able to experience the E-class with steel springs and adaptive dampers, with air suspension and rear-wheel steering not available and unlikely to be for some time. This more traditional set-up doesn’t impact the E-class’s composure, its ride is calm and measured in its delivery, with no unexpected movements through the cabin. There’s strong body control too and the whole car feels engineered and set-up to be the relaxed exec it needs to be, although this does mean the steering is overly light, which doesn’t make for a particularly precise front end. Not a deal breaker, as the E-class has never been a car to hustle.

Larger road surface imperfections are harder to contain and throw-up the shortcomings of not having a set of air-filled bags to suspend the car on. And depending on the road’s surface - older concrete types - there’s more tyre noise than you might be expecting.

From inside the E-class feels a considerable step on from current Mercedes products in terms of fit and finish (it’s one of the first Mercedes we’ve driven in a long time without any squeaks or rattles), but some of the plastics feel harsh and brittle with surprisingly sharp edges, although this down to the rest of the interior being to such a high standard that these imperfections stand out. 

There’s an intuitive nature to the controls, too. Granted, there are two sizable screens, with the passenger also getting their own, but the smaller ‘superscreen’ setup highlights the absurdity of the hyperscreens Mercedes fits in other models. A simple button marked with an outline of the car takes you directly to the lane keep assist off button (although this requires turning off everytime the car is restarted), and the rest of the controls are logical to use. 

The tech overload is a bit much, with everything from interior lights that can pulse to the conversation between passengers or the sound coming from the entertainment system. There’s also a ‘4D’ surround sound system that includes speakers in the seats that seem to make you feel physically sick. But ignore these, dial them down or switch them off completely and the E-class is one of those cars that simply gets on with doing everything to a higher than expected standard it was designed for. Then again, it costs from £70,900 so excuses should be very few and far between. 

As for the 'should I, shouldn’t I?’ switch to an EV debate that continues to tie people’s car purchasing decision making in knots, if your circumstances require you to have a large saloon with some element of electric propulsion the E300e is a pretty good place to start. 

More on E-Class

Mercedes E-class 2020 review – new E450 a smooth operator
Reviews

Mercedes E-class 2020 review – new E450 a smooth operator

Still not a driver’s car like a 5-series, but the E-class hits the mark in almost every other area
6 Aug 2020
New 2020 Mercedes-Benz E-class revealed
Mercedes E-Class saloon

New 2020 Mercedes-Benz E-class revealed

Mercedes’ ubiquitous E-class saloon receives a mid-life update
3 Mar 2020
New Mercedes-Benz E-class review
Mercedes E400d Estate review - nose
Reviews

New Mercedes-Benz E-class review

The E-class is more diverse, multi-talented and capable than ever, but still retains those key Mercedes attributes
22 Mar 2019
Mercedes-Benz E400 4Matic Cabriolet review
Mercedes-Benz E400 4Matic Cabriolet - Side
Mercedes E-Class saloon

Mercedes-Benz E400 4Matic Cabriolet review

Merc’s latest E-class Cabriolet isn’t the fastest or sportiest car, but it’s still capable of impressing
27 Jun 2017
New Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet expands the E-Class family
Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet - Geneva front three quarter
Mercedes E-Class saloon

New Mercedes E-Class Cabriolet expands the E-Class family

New soft-top four-seater E-Class Cabriolet offers luxury touches plus the advanced tech of the saloon model
8 Mar 2017
Mercedes-AMG E43 to debut in New York
Mercedes E-Class saloon

Mercedes-AMG E43 to debut in New York

Biturbo V6 luxury saloon launches to 62mph in 4.6sec; makes its debut at the New York auto show
10 Mar 2016
Listen - Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG S estate exhaust
Mercedes E-Class saloon

Listen - Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG S estate exhaust

A little taste of what the big Mercedes estate sounds like
29 Jan 2015
Brabus 850 hits 217mph
Brabus 850 Biturbo
Mercedes E-Class saloon

Brabus 850 hits 217mph

The Brabus 850 is a biturbo Mercedes E63 AMG with 837bhp and a McLaren P1 matching top speed
15 May 2014
2013 Mercedes-Benz E63 S 4MATIC AMG
2013 Mercedes-Benz E63 S 4MATIC AMG
Mercedes E-Class saloon

2013 Mercedes-Benz E63 S 4MATIC AMG

The new range-topping, 577bhp Mercedes E63 AMG S Model comes with a revelatory four-wheel drive version
4 Feb 2013
Mercedes E350 CDI estate review
Mercedes E-Class estate rear tracking
Mercedes E-Class saloon

Mercedes E350 CDI estate review

The best estate car in the world. Has the new Mercedes E350 CDI done enough to earn the title?
26 Apr 2010
Mercedes E63 AMG
Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG
Mercedes E-Class saloon

Mercedes E63 AMG

evo's Chris Harris drives the new Mercedes E63 AMG sports saloon. Sideways, mostly
22 Jan 2010
Mercedes E-Class Cabrio
Mercedes E-Class Cabrio
Mercedes E-Class saloon

Mercedes E-Class Cabrio

Spy video footage of Mercedes E-Class cabriolet testing at the Nurburgring
20 Aug 2009
Mercedes E-Class Coupe 250 CDi
Mercedes E-Class Coupe 250 CDi
Mercedes E-Class saloon

Mercedes E-Class Coupe 250 CDi

Four-cylinder diesel powered model is the pick of Merc's new coupe range
9 Jul 2009
Brabus E Coupe
Brabus Mercedes Benz E-class Coupe
Mercedes E-Class saloon

Brabus E Coupe

Mercedes tuner Brabus gets its hands on the new E-class Coupe; 456bhp, 196mph
20 May 2009
Mercedes-Benz E500
Mercedes-Benz E500
Mercedes E-Class saloon

Mercedes-Benz E500

New Mercedes-Benz E-class is a return to form, but driving thrills are in short ration
14 May 2009
Merc E63 + ML450
Mercedes E-Class saloon

Merc E63 + ML450

Two new cars unveiled at New York show - E63 AMG sports saloon and ML450 hybrid
8 Apr 2009
Merc E-class Coupe
Mercedes E-Class Coupe
Mercedes E-Class saloon

Merc E-class Coupe

Change of name and change of style for the Mercedes-Benz CLK replacement
16 Feb 2009
Mercedes E-Class Cabrio
Mercedes E-Class saloon

Mercedes E-Class Cabrio

Here’s proof that Mercedes is hard working on the next generation CLK Cabrio
26 Jan 2009
Merc E-Class Estate
Mercedes E-Class saloon

Merc E-Class Estate

Still over a year away, our spies have garnered details on the next all-new Mercedes E-Class by taking spy-shots of a less-disguised estate model test…
17 Sep 2008