What is it?:
With the S300 BlueTEC Hybrid, a four-cylinder diesel engine is being offered to S-class buyers in the UK for the first time. The 2.1-litre four-cylinder diesel engine in the new model was offered in the S250 in the previous-gen S-class, a car that never made it to these shores.
Now it’s back in the new line-up, armed with hybrid assistance, to produce some deeply impressive numbers, and a place on UK price lists.
The CO2 figure of 115g/km and combined fuel economy of 64.2mpg seem almost implausibly low for a car of the S-class’s size and weight and more akin to that of an efficient family hatchback; but the boffins at Mercedes reckon a real-world figure of even 70mpg might be possible — should you have the most feather-like of right foots. Crikey.
What's it like?:
Sadly, it’s better on paper than it is in reality. While those figures are deeply impressive and achievable, you have to remember this is a luxury car. And the powertrain just doesn’t have that ludicrously high level of polish and refinement you automatically associate with the S-class.
Not that it’s particularly noisy; yes, there is a grumble in the background that is absent in six-and eight-cylinder S-classes, but the cabin is well insulated and helps mask the sound. It can’t mask the vibrations into the cabin though that the powertrain produces; feeling any vibration into the cabin from the powertrain is an alien concept in an S-class.
Performance is strong enough, and it’s possible to creep along on electric power alone at low speeds and when backing off the throttle at mid-range speeds. And the fine ride quality and interior comfort, such famous S-class traits, are not lost in its transformation into fuel sipper.
Should I buy one?:
This powertrain is a case of downsizing being stretched a little too far. It’s far from being a bad car, it’s just not the powertrain we’d want our S-class served up with.
For the same expected price —when the model arrives in the first quarter of 2014 at around £65,000 — you will be into S350 BlueTEC territory, with its vastly more refined and hardly inefficient powertrain.
Mercedes Benz S300 BlueTEC Hybrid
Price £65,000 set; 0-62mph 7.6sec; Top speed 149mph; Economy 64.2mpg; CO2 115g/km; Kerb weight tbc; Engine 2143cc, 4 cyls, turbodiesel, plus electric motor; Power 228bhp (combined); Torque 435lb ft (combined); Gearbox 7-speed automatic