FOLLOWING its premiere in the S-Class, Mercedes-Benz is now offering its most advanced hybrid technology in the C-Class. The dynamism and efficiency of the C350e sedan makes it a convincing proposition in its segment. With a range of 31 kilometres in purely electric mode, local emission-free driving is now a reality. Its four-cylinder petrol engine, in conjunction with a powerful electric motor, gives it a total system output of 205 kW and torque of 600 Nm. The new C350e delivers the performance of a sports car and yet offers certified consumption figures of just 2.1 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres. This corresponds to CO2 emissions of 65 grams per kilometre. The C350e is equipped as standard with AIRMATIC air suspension plus a Pre-Entry Climate Control system that can be controlled via the internet, adding up to a truly exceptional level of driving and climate comfort. A first for the Mercedes-Benz East London plant is the manufacture of a C-Class with the latest PLUG-IN-HYBRID technology for both local and export markets. “The successful manufacture of the C350e sedan at our award winning Mercedes-Benz East London plant to exacting world-class standards, is another milestone in our illustrious 68-year history of engineering excellence,” says Arno van der Merwe, CEO Mercedes-Benz South Africa and executive director manufacturing. The East London plant celebrated a record milestone of one-million vehicles produced in May 2015 and continues to receive a number of accolades and awards.Logistics division’s project management specialist, Liebrecht Otto, confirmed that all employees -and contractors involved with the manufacture of these hybrid units were specifically trained to safely work with high voltage components. “Instructors from TÜV SÜD, an international service corporation focusing on consulting, testing, certification and training, were brought in to the plant to ensure that we met the highest international safety standards. We have now set the benchmark in South Africa for safety, as we do for quality. From a facility perspective, to accommodate some of the additional work content, we installed a new Lifter and High Station in the Assembly area. Additionally, we installed a manipulator on the trim line to aid the operator in securing the new battery into the vehicle,” added Otto.Thanks to the combination of combustion engine and electric drive, hybrid drive systems deliver impressively low consumption, but with high performance. The electric motor is able to replace or support the combustion engine in situations where the combustion engine does not perform quite so well, and makes practical use of energy generated while braking by converting it into electric energy and storing it.In the new Mercedes-Benz C350e, this hybrid drive concept is combined for the first time with an efficient four-cylinder petrol engine. From a displacement of just under two litres, it produces 155 kW and maximum torque of 350 Nm. Its direct injection system with spray-guided combustion uses electronically precise controlled multiple injection and fast multi-spark ignition to deliver outstanding performance coupled with high efficiency and exemplary emissions.The high overall system output and intelligent engine management give the car the dynamic performance of a nimble sports car. And it combines this with the ride comfort of a premium sedan, along with fuel consumption and environmental compatibility at a level that, until not all that long ago, would not even have been expected of many small cars. This sedan sprints from zero to 100 km/h in 5.9 seconds and reaches a top speed of 250 km/h in conjunction with certified fuel consumption of 2.1 litres per 100 kilometres. This corresponds to CO2 emissions of 65 grams per kilometre. The C 350 e offers the possibility of driving up to 31 kilometres in all-electric mode, and completely free of CO2 emissions locally – for example in the city. One new feature of the C350e is the so-called haptic accelerator pedal, which helps to reduce fuel consumption and thus also exhaust emissions. It provides two types of information: If, when driving in electric mode, the driver’s foot meets a point of resistance on the accelerator pedal, this is an indication that maximum electric performance is being delivered. If the driver continues to depress the accelerator beyond this resistance point, the combustion engine will kick in. A double impulse from the ECO Assist function signals that the driver should remove their foot from the accelerator pedal in order to switch off the combustion engine and decouple it from the drive train. Assuming that the driver does what the double impulse suggests, the intelligent engine management system of the C 350 e will vary the deceleration mode between unpowered (sailing) and recuperation, using data from the car’s radar systems as its basis. The order book for the Mercedes-Benz C350e sedan is open at dealerships throughout Southern Africa and delivery of customer vehicles commences August 2016.As with all Mercedes-Benz passenger cars, the C 350 e comes standard with a class-leading six-year/100 000km PremiumDrive maintenance plan. The C350e is exempt from CO2 emission tax as emission levels amount to frugal levels of 65 g/km and retails at R804 900.