Mercedes C 350 e vs. VW Passat GTE: Mid-class plug-in hybrids in test

7K 0

Are plug-in hybrids only bridge technology or an extra-intelligent drive combination? The Auto motor und sport comparison test of the Mercedes C 350 e and VW Passat GTE is here to give us the answer. 

You know this surely: always ask a friend what car to buy. Little things decide. There are usually small advantages, which make a car particularly desirable. As here perhaps the fact that Mercedes C 350 e and Passat GTE benefit in many places of free parking. When we stop for a coffee to talk about the cars, it saves one euro per hour of parking.

The financial challenge that both plug-in hybrids provide to their buyers can hardly be alleviated. In order to cover the price premium asked for the C 350 e compared to the C 300, the petrol car would have to be parked for ten months at a time. The Passat GTE is about 9,000 euros more expensive than its conventional counterpart – this amounts to 375 days of permanent parking. In doing so, the gasoline bills remain similar.

c350e-passat-gte (11)

Electric avenue
Both sedans start with the power of their electric motors. In the city the VW is more balanced. In the GTE, the 1.4-liter turbo engine and an 85 kW electric motor share the drive system, the same as in the Audi A3 e-tron, but with 14 hp more system performance. Ten kilowatts more than in the Audi are accounted by the electric motor alone, which sits in the housing of the six-speed double clutch box, behind the two-mass flywheel and the disconnect clutch to the petrol engine. The 9.9 kWh, 125 kg lithium-ion battery drives the Passat up to 130 km / h for 41 km in sheer silence.

Mercedes combines the two-liter 211 hp turbo with a 60 kW electric motor. It sits in the so-called hybrid head of the seven-speed automatic gearbox. But his performance is no longer sufficient for mild climbs. Then the combustion engine turns on, soft and discreet, but just audible. So the C 350 e drives itself in the city amazingly often as a conventional hybrid.

Only 17 km on pure electricity in the C 350 e
This is also due to the smaller capacity of the lithium-ion battery: 6.38 kWh. When charged from a 230-volt socket, the car is ready to go after three hours (the VW takes nearly five hours). But this is enough only for a meager 17 km of purely electric range – and that is far too little for all the effort.

c350e-passat-gte (21)

This is by no means confined to the drive components only. The batteries in both limousines can also be charged during the journey via the combustion unit and it is also possible to save battery energy for later, for the city traffic. Mercedes also uses the radar of the distance warning system for brake energy recuperation – if the C-Class approaches another car too much, the system brakes it by recuperation to the appropriate distance. Both models also link drive and navigation data to increase efficiency.

The Passat GTE proves to be much better. The test consumption according to auto-motor-und-sport is 1.5 l/100 km gasoline and 16 kWh of electricity, which corresponds to 125 g CO2 / km. The C 350 e is, on the other hand, more thirsty with 4.5 l/100 km and 10.2 kWh or 162 g / km.

In other areas, too, the more favorable Passat surpasses the C-Class: the VW offers considerably more space for passengers and luggage, a more comfortable entry and a more intuitive operation. However, the battery, which is also positioned on the rear axle, limits not only the trunk volume, but also comfort and handling. It acts somewhat out of balance, springs tighter and runs less precisely, but safely through curves. In contrast, the C-Class convinces with the more spirited driving, balanced-agile handling and air-cushioned comfort.

Technical Data
Mercedes C 350 e VW Passat GTE
Base price 52.063 € 44.250 €
Lenght x Width x Height 4686 x 1810 x 1442 mm 4767 x 1832 x 1456 mm
Trunk volume VDA 335 L 402 L
Engine 1991 cm³ / 4-Cylinder 1395 cm³ / 4-Cylinder
Power (Torque) 205 kW / 279 PS (600 Nm) 160 kW / 218 PS (400 Nm)
Max. speed 250 km/h 225 km/h
Acceleration 0-100 km/h 5,9 s 7,4 s
Consumption 2,1 L/100 km 1,7 L/100 km