Cruising in luxury and getting lousy fuel economy don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Both BMW and Mercedes have been actively proving that for years now. However, the natural thing for any car enthusiast to wonder is, between the German powerhouse manufacturers’ plug-in mid-size sedans, which is better to drive?
Mercedes vs. BMW: An ongoing battle that’s nearly a century old
Top Gear took to the wheel of both of these plug-in hybrid sedans to decide which one is the best. Based on the performance specifications, it’s a bit of a toss-up. Whether you spring for the BMW or the Mercedes, you’ll get around 300 horsepower and sprint from zero to 60 miles per hour in approximately six seconds. Additionally, both variants are available with upgraded design packages in the form of M sport trim for the BMW and AMG-line for the Mercedes.
The Mercedes does outperform the BMW in terms of battery-only driving range. By quite a lot, too. Mercedes claims that it has an electric range of 62 miles, which is nearly double the BMW’s advertised 37 miles. This comes courtesy of the onboard 25.4kWh battery. That’s quite a big battery for a PHEV and is nearly the same capacity as a first-generation Nissan Leaf.
However, Top Gear found the BMW to get 28 miles in real-world use while the C-class managed 51 miles. Though neither hit their advertised range, both are within a reasonable distance from their respective advertised ranges.
Real-world use also brought to light that these two vehicles are for different purposes despite being competitors. While the BMW still maintains its desire to be an exciting and nimble luxury sedan toeing the line of a sports car, the Mercedes does not. Instead, it turns more toward the luxury side of things and fully embraces its electric side. With the C-class, you’ll be more interested in a nice casual cruise at over 40 miles per gallon.
Unfortunately, the U.S. only has one option right now
Ultimately, the Top Gear sentiment is that the BMW is overall sharper and better sorted with the typical performance aspect the world has come to expect from the historic company. However, the Mercedes definitely doesn’t go creditless.
“But the C-Class’s magnificent powertrain is too efficient, too flexible, and too crushingly clever to ignore. I’ve no doubt BMW will stuff a revised 330e with more batteries soon, but for now, the C300e might well be the world’s best PHEV,” wrote Ollie Kew of Top Gear.
So, while these sedans both fit in the same category and technically compete with each other, they suit the needs of different buyers. One that wants an entry-level luxury sedan with a quality ride and excellent fuel economy. The other wants an entry-level luxury sedan with sporty performance that just happens to be a plug-in and gets a bit more fuel economy than a standard-issue gasoline engine.
There is one more critical element here. Unfortunately, based on the Mercedes-Benz USA website, it seems that the company has no intention of bringing the plug-in C300 to the U.S. market for now. So, between the two, the only option we have on this side of the pond is the BMW 330e. While it’s certainly not a bad car, many folks want what they can’t have. The positive pitch for the C300e certainly will not help curb desires, either.