In November you will be able to buy in the UK a full-size, luxuriously-equipped, high-performance saloon car with the potential to return more than 100mpg as well as 155mph and 0-60 in just 5.2 seconds. Yes, you read that correctly …
We’re getting used to hybrid vehicles boasting either remarkable range and/or performance, but the advent of a 442bhp S-Class which could make even the most frugal petrol-only supermini blush in the fuel economy stakes is new territory indeed. Apparently it can even muster 20-plus miles purely on electrical power.
The figure of 442bhp comes from a petrol-burning 333bhp twin-turbo V6 and a 116bhp electric motor powered by 8.7 kWh lithium-ion batteries which can be charged up using an external charging device, unlike the previous S300 and S400 hybrids from Mercedes-Benz. A full charge from a three-phase power point will apparently take around two hours. This all sounds very clever, but it’s only part of the S500 Hybrid’s repertoire of neat tricks. The COMAND (cockpit management and data) system will ‘look’ ahead at the road you’re driving on to see where there is a downhill section where energy can be clawed back, or regenerate as much power as possible before entering an urban area and engaging electric-only drive. Not only this, but the S500 can send a pulse through the throttle pedal to let the driver know when they can close the throttle (after which the engine shuts down) and extend the range of the car. This works in tandem with the predictive gearshift strategy which guesses when the driver is likely to want to overtake a slower car. Seriously clever stuff.
And underneath all of this fuel-miser technology it is still an S-Class. A tablet or smartphone may be used to either heat or cool the car prior to you getting into it, and will also be able to inform the driver when they are away from the car as to the charge status, predicted range, and when it is due a service. The Comfort pack means that the S500 hybrid will be able to massage you and light the cabin in a variety of ways, the left-rear seat will be able to recline to 43.5 degrees and the Magic Body Control will ensure that the quality of ride is exemplary. The price for all of this? £87,965, which makes it less expensive than a BMW i8.
It all sounds wonderful, and it probably is. The only thing is, Mercedes-Benz seems determined to refer to the car as the S500 PLUG-IN HYBRID, which wouldn’t make it the sexiest boot lid moniker ever. We predict that the de-badging option might be popular.