Could this be the ultimate plug-in electric vehicle? Certainly it pushes the technology further than most, no surprise when you consider the S-Class’s role as flag-bearer for Mercedes’ future developments. Available only in long-wheelbase guise, it mates a 3.0-litre straight-six petrol engine to an electric motor, which with 124bhp delivers only modest EV performance, although more than enough for chauffeured wafting. More importantly, it packs a large, 28.6kWh battery for an impressive 63-mile range, which is enough not to need the ICE for most journeys. In every other respect, it’s pure S-Class, meaning unrivalled comfort, refinement and luxury.
Given it’s essentially a jacked-up A-Class hatchback, it’s no surprise to find the GLA has been given the plug-in treatment. Under its rugged-looking skin is the same turbocharged 1.3-litre petrol engine (co-developed with Renault and Nissan) with an electric motor mounted on the eight-speed automatic gearbox. Both of these drive the front wheels, so there’s no four-wheel drive as on a BMW X2. The upside of this is greater efficiency, with the GLA capable of up to 39 miles between charges, although the BMW’s system is better integrated and more refined, plus it’s sharper to drive with a more settled ride.
Aimed at the Audi Q5 and Q5 Sportback, the plug-in versions of the GLC and GLC Coupé lose out on EV range as a result of their smaller, 13.5kWh battery, which results in a maximum claimed range of 28 miles. On the plus side, the petrol-electric powertrain is carried over from the E300e saloon, which means a healthy 316bhp output and a smooth and refined operation. There’s also 4Matic four-wheel drive, helping to give the GLC decent all-weather and off-road ability. The emphasis is on comfort when driving, but then what more do you want from an SUV? The Coupé version has less space for rear passengers and a smaller boot but costs around £2000 more. Go figure.
Mercedes-Benz GLC 300de
As with the 300e, the 300de takes its diesel-flavoured plug-in hybrid innards from the E300d, and like that car it makes a curious amount of sense. Yes, diesel isn’t very popular and it covers the same average 28 miles on a charge, but when the battery is depleted and you’ve got further to travel, the GLC will easily return 50mpg thanks to its 2.0-litre diesel, compared with mid-30s for the petrol. The four-cylinder unit is well insulated when it does chime in and has a healthy slug of low-speed torque for effortless progress. As with the petrol, you can have SUV or coupé bodystyles, with the less practical versions attracting a similar price premium, although both are rated at 12% for BIK.