Mercedes-Benz S 580e review: pinnacle plug-in hybrid
It took the best part of 30 minutes for the Man from Mercedes to run through all the control systems for the S 580e, but it was time well-spent. Like most new cars, the level of technology is simply staggering, and when you’ve splashed out a hundred times more than the cost of a really nice mobile phone, it’s nice to know just what your new car can offer.
The S-Class touchscreen is simply the best you’ll find today: user-friendly, intuitive and still not completely devoid of additional buttons to help you through some key operations. Got stuck? Just say “Hey Mercedes, lower the rear blind” and it’s done.
More impressive still, those in the front can ask for more warmth and the temperature is only adjusted on their side – the sensors detect where they are sitting.
This is the latest Mercedes S-Class, then: an on-trend plug-in petrol hybrid promising the economy of a diesel with cleaner tail-pipe emissions. The official CO2 figure is just 27-29g/km.
Plug in to charge overnight and there’s a claimed 63-mile range on electric power before the petrol engine joins the action. That’s incredibly useful in urban driving, but even on a 200-mile trip, with the battery well and truly depleted, close to 50mpg is possible.
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The 3.0-litre straight-six engine produces 367hp, the electric motor an additional 150hp, so there’s plenty of power to whisk this 2.4-tonne luxury car along. Air springs also keep all that mass under control, at the same time allowing the S-Class to feel surprisingly agile through the Yorkshire Dales – where we took it for the weekend.
Of course, the raison d’etre of an S-Class is comfort. Double glazing and goodness knows how much insulation keep noise levels remarkably low. The Nappa leather quilted seats are heated and cooled all-round, and offer a sublime mix of softness and support. Choose the right option pack (yes, even at over £100,000 there are extras) and you’ll get a decent massage, too.
While the rear passengers don’t enjoy any body manipulation (nor would you comfortably sit a third person in the middle, unless you were desperate) there is a wonderful Chauffeur package that reclines the nearside rear seat while pushing the front passenger seat forward to further boost the fabulous rear legroom.
Ironically, it’s hard to conduct a conversation between front and rear seats in the long-wheelbase S-Class, such is the distance between the two. Instead, the rear passengers can amuse themselves with their own tablet to adjust their personal climate bubble or – and this really is better than it sounds – change the ambient lighting to their colour of choice. Thin LED strips running around the car give a subtle but rather lovely twist to the interior.
S-Class over Taycan
For similar money, you could buy the fully electric Porsche Taycan. A rather different proposition, admittedly, but when no one needs to spend £100,000+ on a car, it’s a reasonable discussion to have.
However, it’s no contest. When you have got over the neck-jerking acceleration of the Porsche, the Mercedes is the car you’ll want to live with. It’s simply excellent in almost every area.
There’s one major fly in the ointment, though. The hybrid battery for this Mercedes S 580 e AMG Line Premium Plus Executive compromises boot space so much you can’t stand an average case on its side, let alone carry enough luggage for four people heading to the airport. Shame.