The Mercedes-Benz C350 E sounds like a tempting proposal, offering a plug-in hybrid setup in a premium package, but the vehicle may not show the driving safety expected from a W205 C-Class.
The C350 e was recently subjected to the Moose Test by Swedish publication Teknikens Varld, with the plug-in hybrid showing poor results.
As many of you know, this test simulates an evasive maneuver the driver might make when an animal jumps onto the road. The first part of the test sees the driver making a swift steering movement to the left, as if to avoid the potential collision. This is followed by a similar driving input (to the right, this time) aimed at bringing the car back onto its lane.
The C350 e was subjected to consecutive tests, with the speed being increased. Surprisingly, the German sedan only managed to stay on track up to a speed of 64 km/h (40 mph).
Taken past that velocity, the plug-in hybrid C-Class showed oversteer, with the rear end killing the cones on the sides of the test area. As you can imagine, this can seriously increase the risk of a crash in a real-world situation that would require such a maneuver.
For the sake of comparison, we’ll mention a Citroen DS5 managed to pass the test at speeds up to 75 km/h (46.5 mph).
A potential source for the issue
In theory, the Mercedes’ Electronic Stability Control should’ve used individual wheel braking to stabilize the car. This leads to the hypothesis that the ESC wasn’t properly calibrated for the specific requirements of the C350 e - the most important factor here is the weight.
With the massive battery pack of the rear-wheel-drive plug-in hybrid being placed at the back of the car, the weight distribution shows a significant difference compared to the conventionally-powered models. Then there’s the sheer mass of the car - the plug-in hybrid sits at 1,780 kg (3,924 lbs), while the heaviest non-AMG rear-wheel-drive C-Class (C250 BlueTEC) tips the scales at 1,595 kg (3,516 lbs).
Mercedes-Benz Sweden has replied to Teknikens Varld, explaining the C350 e has passed other similar handling tests. The carmaker also said it suspects that the tires of were under inflated.
While a second car was also tested, Mercedes claims the rainy weather made the results invalid, despite these being better than those shown by the first test. However, the publication said it had checked the tire pressure, dismissing any potential issues in this field.
We have to explain this is a magazine that likes to put such tech details to the test, having discovered important vehicle flaws in the past.
You can see the loose behaviour of the C-Class PHEV in the clip below.