This is the face-lifted Mercedes S-Class undergoing final cold weather testing, ahead of an expected launch in the summer of 2009.
The big news is the arrival of the new S400 BlueHybrid version. This is powered by a new 279bhp petrol 3.5-litre V6 combined with the new hybrid automatic transmission developed by GM, Mercedes and BMW.
A three-phase AC electric motor is mounted within the front of the gearbox housing, and provides additional thrust when required, output swelling to 299bhp and 284lb ft.
The new S-Class cannot run purely on battery power; the electric motor is used exclusively to boost the petrol engine.
It’s also the first mass-produced hybrid to use a lithium ion battery. This weighs just 27kg and is said to be much more efficient than conventional nickel-metal hydride batteries.
With luxury car sales in freefall, the updated car can’t come soon enough, although the exterior changes are relatively modest.
The new car also gets a revised grille and a new front bumper, which reflects the more ‘edgy’ design language of the upcoming E-Class and new GLK SUV.
Inside, the upgraded dashboard will get the option of the innovative new Splitview screen, which can show two different images simultaneously. This will allow the driver to view a sat-nav display, while the passenger watches TV.