If the Mercedes C-Class was a meal it would be a high-end fine-dining experience, served in the most tasteful manner.

I spent a week behind the wheel of an AMG Line version of this accomplished saloon, enjoying discovering a byword for elegant design and a beacon of top tech. 

The new C-Class range is electrified throughout thanks to plug-in hybrids and mild hybrids with 48-volt technology and integrated starter-generator. 

Style file
This is a car with an abundance of kerb appeal. Without turning a wheel, the C-Class already looks to be in motion thanks to its dynamic proportions. From the brand's hallmark radiator grille, which characterises the front, to the well-crafted rear-end via a sophisticated side-profile, the four-door car looks poised and purposeful.

Being an AMG Line, our motor sported AMG features, including AMG 18in alloy wheels, front bumper with sporty air intakes, and chrome elements and body-coloured side-skirts.

The inside story is one of style, comfort and luxury, with sporty touches. From the leather upholstery to the pleasingly tactile finishes, the cabin is a desirable place to be. The dashboard is divided into an upper and a lower section: into a wing-like section with new, flattened round vents reminiscent of aircraft engine nacelles, and into an opulent expanse of trim. 

The latter flows from the centre console to the dashboard without interruption. Driver-focus adds to the sportiness: the dashboard and 12.3in central display are slightly tilted towards the driver.

Roomy and comfortable, there’s a practical side to the C300e too, with generous boot space which can be increased by dropping the split-fold rear seatback, an easy operation thanks to a couple of readily-accessible luggage-area levers. 

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A wealth of lovely kit included heated seats, interior lighting package, three-spoke multi-function AMG steering wheel trimmed in nappa leather, seat comfort package and four-way lumbar support, automatic climate control with two climate zones, pre-entry climate control, and a sophisticated suite of connectivity, communications and in-car entertainment features, plus wireless phone charging.

Safety and assistance systems include cruise control with variable speed-limiter, active blind-spot assist, active lane-keeping assist, active brake assist with turning manoeuvre function, adaptive brake assist with hold function and brake-drying function, dual-stage airbags, a parking package with reversing camera, and remote boot-release.

On the road
The C300e ticks the box marked motoring satisfaction. With smooth power and assured handling, the car is a delightful drive - at home in all road conditions from city streets to winding country lanes and the motorway haul. The slick-changing nine-speed automatic gearbox makes for seamless progress. Performance figures are 0-62mph in 6.1 seconds and a top speed of 152mph (manufacturer’s figures).

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Tech time
The plug-in hybrid car teams a 204bhp two-litre, four-cylinder, 16-valve petrol engine with a 129bhp (95 kW) electric motor. The 25.4kWh battery gives an all-electric range of around 62 miles (100 kilometres) and a combined fuel consumption of 470mpg (manufacturer’s figures).

The plug-in hybrid C-Class will operate in all-electric mode in many cases, meaning drivers will be able to cover most everyday journeys under electric power alone.

An energy recovery function allows kinetic energy to be recuperated during deceleration or downhill driving.

Even when the battery is completely discharged, it can be fully charged in around 30 minutes with the optional 55 kW DC charger. A standard-fit 11 kW charger (depending on the market) is available for three-phase charging at a Wallbox connected to the domestic AC mains.

Top tech meets true style and luxury in the Mercedes C300e. There’s top quality too, thanks to benchmark fit and finish, combined with slick performance from the economical hi-tech power plant. 

Price as tested: £45,580.