2016 Mercedes-Benz C350e

Last week, we got a peek at the far future of Mercedes-Benz with the autonomous F 015 concept. We also got a feel for what's next for Benz from behind the wheel of the 2016 Mercedes-Benz C350e plug-in hybrid.

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2016 Mercedes-Benz C350e

The C350e is available in Base or Luxury trim levels. Seen here close to fully loaded, the hybrid is loaded to the gills with all of the latest tech and amenities offered by the automaker.

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2016 Mercedes-Benz C350e

Thought the conventional C-Class can be had with an all-wheel drive system, the C350e's hybrid system is only available as a rear-driver.

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2016 Mercedes-Benz C350e

The charging port hides behind a small door in the rear bumper.

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2016 Mercedes-Benz C350e

The small charging point and the "C350e" badging are the only indicators that this C-Class is unique in the lineup.

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2016 Mercedes-Benz C350e

The addition of the battery pack sacrifices a bit of the C-Class' truck space. However, there is still a good deal of room back there and the rear pass-through doesn't appear compromised.

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2016 Mercedes-Benz C350e

Under the hood, the Benz is powered by 2.0-liter gasoline four-cylinder engine that is mated with a 7-speed automatic transmission.

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2016 Mercedes-Benz C350e

Between the engine and the gearbox, where you'd typically find a torque converter, Mercedes-Benz has fitted the electric drive unit via a wet clutch.

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2016 Mercedes-Benz C350e

Total system horsepower is stated at 275 horsepower and total torque at 443 pound-feet.

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2016 Mercedes-Benz C350e

This example is equipped with Mercedes-Benz' air suspension, which is adjusted along with vehicle's drive modes to make the ride soft or dynamic.

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2016 Mercedes-Benz C350e

The cabin's fit and finish is superb. This is already a quiet and comfortable ride that's made more-so by the silent operation of the electric motor.

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2016 Mercedes-Benz C350e

The center console is finished in glossy black plastic with chrome trim.

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2016 Mercedes-Benz C350e

The driver can adjust the performance of the vehicle between sport, sport+, comfort, and eco modes with the chrome toggle. Eco mode has four sub-modes: hybrid, e-mode, e-save, and charge.

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2016 Mercedes-Benz C350e

The driver uses the new COMAND controller to interact with the infotainment system. The knob can be twisted, nudged and tapped to make selections. Alternatively, the driver can swipe and tap the glossy touchpad.

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2016 Mercedes-Benz C350e

Our C350e Luxury featured a full loadout of driver aid features including adaptive cruise control, a head up display, lane keeping assistant and more.

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2016 Mercedes-Benz C350e

The dashboard also boasts a healthy selection of physical shortcut keys on its dashboard.

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2016 Mercedes-Benz C350e

The Burmeister premium audio system sounds fantastic at low volumes and when cranked up. It also looks quite good.

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2016 Mercedes-Benz C350e

The C-Class now uses this tablet-like display that sits atop the dashboard like a lump. This screen is not touch sensitive.

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2016 Mercedes-Benz C350e

Maps are crisply rendered and animate smoothly.

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2016 Mercedes-Benz C350e

The COMAND interface has a few new tricks and design elements, but I found its learning curve to be a bit steep.

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2016 Mercedes-Benz C350e

The system has too many control schemes, an interface that seems to be constantly changing, and web connectivity that takes far too long to connect.

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2016 Mercedes-Benz C350e

The hybrid system is good for about 115 mpg on the European testing cycle. On California roads, I managed to average about 40 mpg.

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2016 Mercedes-Benz C350e

From here the driver can monitor and adjust various elements of the vehicle's performance.

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2016 Mercedes-Benz C350e

The COMAND home screen boasts an icon-based overview of all of the C-Class' infotainment functions.

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2016 Mercedes-Benz C350e

Though the performance is noticeably augmented by the different drive modes, I was most impressed by the seamless transition from full-electric to gasoline power.

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2016 Mercedes-Benz C350e

Though not standard features, the C350e is also available with LED headlamps.

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2016 Mercedes-Benz C350e

The C350e's accelerator pedal features haptic feedback that helps the driver to manage the efficiency of the hybrid performance. Check out our in-depth first drive for more details.

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2016 Mercedes-Benz C350e

A 360-degree camera system stitches together views from cameras in the grill, at the rear, and in the wing mirrors.

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2016 Mercedes-Benz C350e

Mercedes-Benz plans to bring 10 new plug-in hybrid vehicles to the market by 2017. The C350e is at the leading edge of this initiative.

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