Despite the presence of a plug-in hybrid powertrain, was this model a true S-Class at heart?

Why we ran it: To see if a plug-in hybrid Mercedes S-Class could be as convincing an ultimate long-distance luxury saloon as its diesel ancestors

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Mercedes s class long termer side profile

Life with a Mercedes S-Class PHEV: Month 6

Despite the presence of a plug-in hybrid powertrain, it was a true S-Class at heart - 16 November 2022

I concede I was sceptical, borderline cynical about the S-class. Well, this S-class if we’re being picky. If I’d been choosing it myself, I’d have had a diesel-powered S350d in a heartbeat, yes, even at two quid a litre or whatever ransom motorway services are charging this week. But where’d have been the story in that? The whole point of this car was to see if, at this level, a petrol-electric hybrid really is any kind of alternative to the diesels that have ruled the class for long. So the hybrid it was.

It turned up at the end of March and, save for a couple of weeks when it had to go back to base to fulfil some pre-existing commitments, stayed until the end of October, during the course of which I added not quite 12,000 miles to its digital odometer. It’s done all those things S-classes do – roamed around the UK, belted down European motorways and so on – but also a lot of things they tend not to. Of which more in a minute.

When it arrived, the feeling uppermost in my mind was not, you may be surprised to hear, a certain blissful joy at the knowledge of half a year in what I already knew to be the best mass-market luxury car in the world.

It’s a position the S-class has occupied since before I started doing this job in the late 1980s and previous exposure to the current generation suggested nothing was likely to change that now. It was worry. I’ve worked for Autocar since I’ve been in the business but left the staff 26 years ago, and as a freelance contributor, I’ve always paid for my own fuel. So question one was: could I even afford to run the bloody thing?

Happily, I had failed to take at least three points into sufficient consideration. The less important of the two was the fact that the 3-litre straight six motor is remarkably frugal, capable of putting almost 40 miles under the wheels of this heavy but slippery car even with a completely drained battery. The second was just how much electricity it scavenges back from the road. Look down at the rev counter on the gentlest descent and you’ll notice (because you cannot hear) that the engine’s switched itself off and the battery is being charged with energy that would otherwise have been lost to engine braking.


Read our review

Car review

Mercedes-AMG's largest muscle-car limousine makes the big switch to plug-in hybrid power, for a captivating blend of refinement and accessible pace.

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But most significant, by a mile, was its all-electric range, which was a genuine 67-70 miles, despite a claim of just 62-63 miles. How nice it is for a manufacturer to underestimate such a thing for once. What this meant was that journeys in which I’d usually take the family Golf were undertaken by S-class, because charging at home is still by a mile the cheapest way to put energy in a car.

Taking a daughter to the station, going to the supermarket, visiting local mates, all done by S-class without burning a single drop of fuel. And even if I had to go to Heathrow and back, once it had hoovered up some miles through regen, I’d say at least a third of the 250-mile round trip was done on electrons alone. So not only could I afford to run it, most of the time this 2.3 tonne, 500 horsepower limousine was the cheapest car I had at my disposal.

That said, the loss of one-third of an already small boot did rule it out from certain journeys. Collecting a daughter and her clobber from Uni was only possible in the Golf. Now it’s not a like-for-like comparison, but I do remember getting all the other daughter’s stuff into a BMW 7-series.

And the haptic controls on the steering wheel are rubbish. How many times have I heard from this and other manufacturers that ‘you’ll get used to them’, and I did. What they fail to mention is ‘even when you do, they still won’t work properly and you’ll still hate them’, which they don’t and I do. What is so terribly wrong with a button?

Other gripes? Well, it pretended to have a battery fault when it didn’t, the brake pedal felt fine until you suddenly had to jump on it, when it felt decidedly dead and the car’s mass, length and softness has undoubtedly attenuated the handling poise that was a unlikely USP of previous generations of S-class.

That aside, the S580e has been better than impeccable, and not just because it was fast, quiet and comfortable. For this kind of car such things should be, and are, a given. More importantly, it turned every journey into an occasion, and brought home hours closer because you felt like you were there even when pulling out of the long-term car park. And it did distances like nothing else in my experience this side of a Bentley Flying Spur. Including a return 1000-mile journey to Le Mans, out one day, back the next.

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But the trip for which I’ll be most grateful was one of its last, after an abortive attempt to race in the Spa Six Hours in October. I woke up at 4am on the Sunday morning after far too little sleep and just wanted to go home. It was a long way, the weather was filthy and I was already exhausted after four days working and playing hard. And the fact I remember so little about the journey that followed says it all. Not once did I feel my lids grow heavy, not once did vast crosswinds deflect it from its course. It simply demolished the 250 mile trip to the tunnel, paused briefly, then did the same for the 200 miles to home. I was back with my family for lunch, the travails of the previous days already a fading memory.

The S-class has always been the world’s best luxury car, and far from diluting or diminishing that status, I think this particular hybrid system has pushed it further out of range than ever. Pun entirely intended.

Second Opinion

I was a little disappointed with the S400d 4Matic I tested last year. It seemed to have too much digital tech crammed into it, and the 21in wheels didn’t do the otherwise pillowy ride any favours. So I’m relieved the PHEV fulfils the S-Class’s luxury brief more successfully.

Matt Saunders 

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Love it:

Hybrid system Having a real-world range of 67-70 miles on home-charged electricity is game-changing. 

Ride and refinement It would have been the surprise of the year if the big Benz fell down in these departments. It doesn’t. 

Mercedes Me app It looks gimmicky but proved useful, not least when someone drove into the car when it was parked. 

Loathe it:

Boot capacity Easily the biggest drawback. Loses a third of the already not generous capacity of a standard S-Class. 

Haptics Never got on with the steering wheel controls in almost 12,000 miles. Give us back our buttons, please.

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Final mileage: 13,007

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The S-Class' EV-only range is impressive - 9 November

We’re all used to electric ranges not exactly being as advertised. I reckon if a car will actually cover 80% of the WLTP range in normal driving, it’s one of the more honest ones. Mercedes is not being truthful either. Officially, the S580e will do 62-63 miles on a single charge. But it won’t – it will do up to 70 miles so long as you’re not sat on the motorway.

Mileage: 12,623

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Life with a Mercedes S-Class PHEV: Month 5

The S-Class continues to relax after a long day of driving - 26 October

I write this from Anglesey Circuit, brought here by the big Benz in our last major outing together. After two days on road and track for our yearly ‘Handling Day’ event, I’ll climb in it tired and ask it to take me home. And despite all the exotica awaiting me, I’m looking forward to that trip already, for there’s no finer mass-made car in the world for that job.

Mileage: 12,334

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Ill-fated visit to Spa has our man thankful for the motoring equivalent of, well, a spa - 12 October

If there’s one non-negotiable event in the Frankel calendar beyond Christmas, it’s the Spa 6 Hours, the longest endurance race on the historic calendar. I’ve been doing it since 2004, sharing for the past 11 years a 1964 Ford Falcon with my brother, his son and an adopted Frankel called Chris Harris. It’s an exhausting event, not least because we take the chance to play as hard as we work. We drive out on Wednesday, set up the car in practice on Thursday, qualify on Friday, race from 4-10pm on Saturday and return on Sunday.

This was a fitting final test for the S-Class before it returns to its maker. Its job wasn’t just to carry me to Spa but also to act as tender wagon while there, because no one else had a car capable of carrying five. So it spent days just ferrying people to and from the track, which for those on board was a near-ideal experience – but markedly less so for their luggage.

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The single biggest drawback of the hybrid system is that you lose a third of the boot capacity to the large drive battery. So once I’ve packed my race bag, helmet bag, overnight bag and work bag, plus the couple of bags that are always there for the cables, there’s precious little room for anything else. Otherwise, it performed perfectly.

Merc spa

The race didn’t go well, a cracked gearbox casing forcing retirement just before my stint. So I packed up and drove disconsolately back to the hotel and left the Benz in its private car park. Walking to my room, my phone pinged. It was the Mercedes Me app telling me the car had been involved in a collision. Rushing back, I found someone had tried to park next to it, badly misjudged, swiped a corner and rapidly legged it. Most of the visible damage will polish out, but the rear bumper has been slightly displaced and scratched, and I will be surprised if it doesn’t need replacing.

After not getting to race, this was injury to insult. At four the following morning, I woke up still more than a little put out. So I got up, drove more than 400 miles in filthy weather and was still home in Wales in time for a restorative lunch. On that day, in those conditions and in that mood, there was scarcely a car in the world in which I would rather have been or which could have done the job so well.

I expect the next time I write about the Benz at length will be the last, before it’s replaced by something smaller, lighter, cheaper and Alpine-shaped. Has a plug-in hybrid S-Class made a convincing alternative to the diesel that most would hitherto have bought? I will let you know then. 

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Love it 

Restorative piece

Not just quiet and comfy but also infinitely soothing on a long trip for tired, wrung-out drivers.


The boot capacity is very limited for such an enormous car, the price you pay for a battery big enough to do 70 miles on electricity alone.

Mileage: 12,111 

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Charging speeds won't be a priority for most owners - 5 Oct

It’s impressive that the S-Class can be charged at up to 60kW at motorway services, while other PHEVs make do with the 7kW you get from a domestic charger. But why bother? Would you not wait until you were home or just run it on petrol, which is no more expensive than motorway electricity? If eco concerns were a priority, you’d probably not be driving such a car to begin with. 

Mileage: 10,138

Life with a Mercedes S-Class PHEV: Month 4

Even the rear of the car is luxurious - 21 September 

Someone once asked me if I preferred to drive or be driven, and I’m afraid I probably wasn’t terribly charitable in my response. Well, with a long-wheelbase S-Class outside, it’s perhaps not such a dumb thing to ask, after all. Those heated and cooled rear chairs are as comfortable as they look and the little tablet between them keeps the kids happy for hours. 

Mileage: 9406 

A true economical runabout - 7 September

When the Benz arrived with its 3.0-litre petrol engine, 500bhp output and two-tonne weight, it never occurred that one of the roles it might perform best is that of an economical runabout. But that’s how it’s turning out. By filling it up with cheap, overnight electricity and using it for local journeys, figures I would have imagined impossible are appearing on the trip computer.  

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Mileage: 8998 

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Life with a Mercedes S-Class PHEV: Month 3

This beats flying first class for getting to Le Mans quickly and in supreme comfort - 31 August

It’s a peculiar quirk that the distance from my front door to the barrier that guards the entrance to the lower paddock at Le Mans is precisely 500 miles. To the tenth.

I would leave on a Wednesday morning, drive there, spend the night, spend the following day working, then turn around and drive straight home again. A thousand miles in 40 hours. Alone. If ever a job called for an S-Class, this surely was it.

But there had been a problem. A couple of days earlier, a warning light had flashed up on the dash telling me in red letters to ‘Stop vehicle’. Which I did. On further investigation, it claimed there was a problem with the 12V battery, so not the hybrid one but the normal one.

I was late for a client meeting, it was dark and I figured that if I called the recovery people, my evening was over anyway, so I might as well plug on and hope it was just an electronic ghost in the machine. I got there and got home again without problem. But the next day, the sign was back. I had the option of flying to Paris and getting a transfer or crossing my fingers and driving.

What would you do? Flying is a hateful business right now, so I just crossed as many digits as I could and headed for the tunnel. Photographer Luc Lacey took the flying option and was so delayed that he arrived four hours after me. And the Benz hasn’t so much as flashed a sign, let alone missed a beat, ever since.

Mercedes s class phev

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I’d love to tell you more about those journeys, but the truth is I remember remarkably little about them. There was no time to take the scenic route, nor was this the right kind of car for that. I just had to get there, do the job and get back again.

And that, in a nutshell, could be a job description written for the S-Class design team. For this isn’t the kind of journey that you choose to remember. I’m not that fond of the M4, M25 or M20.

The autoroute that runs from Calais to Le Mans via Rouen and Alençon is quieter and less ugly by far, but you’re still sitting there with the cruise set to whatever maximum speed you think is guaranteed not to earn the attention of the local gendarmerie.

What I don’t want here – and this may surprise you – is a magic carpet ride. I want the car to be supremely comfortable and for the seats to be tuned perfectly to the suspension, but I also want some sense of connection to the road.

I don’t want to feel as if I’m suspended a few inches above it. And this the S-Class does as well as any car I’ve driven. I do want it to be as quiet as humanly possible, though. In most cars, I listen to music, but really only because it’s preferable to the sounds coming from the engine, wind and tyres. But in just a few (the Bentley Flying Spur, the Rolls-Royce Ghost and the new Range Rover), the noise levels are so muted that I’ll never turn on the entertainment and travel in near silence, alone with my thoughts.

The S-Class is one of those cars, too. When the S-Class flashed up that warning on the screen, all that was required to make it go away was the usual remedy of switching it off, getting out, walking around for five minutes and getting back in again. And that, in turn, is what a 500-mile journey to Le Mans does for me.

A car that quiet and comfortable plus a trip undertaken in silence amounts to a control-alt-delete for my brain. I arrive happier, sharper and more creative than when I left, and somehow less tired too. This is precisely what an S-Class was put on this earth to do, and this one does it as well as any I’ve known. 

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Love it

Frankel says relax

Perfectly judged ride and refinement provides the ideal environment for a neurological reboot for the driver. 

Loathe it 

False alarms

It’s not alone in flagging problems when none exists, but it does speak of its staggering electronic complexity that it can fool itself into believing something is wrong. 

Mileage: 8822 

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Much of the benefit comes from a home charger - 10 August

I hear tales of some drivers never plugging in their PHEVs, so once the battery is flat, they’re presumably happy to drag all that extra weight around. This has always struck me as nuts, and even more so now. More than half the 8000 miles the S-Class has accrued to date have been done on home electricity. Without my Pod Point unit, it probably wouldn’t have been worth me running this car. 

Mileage: 8032

Life with a Mercedes S-Class PHEV: Month 2

It's not the easiest car to park... - 27 July 

“I say,” came the voice from beneath the panama hat. “You really have parked that car incredibly badly.” The temptation to respond saying it was a bloody miracle I’d parked it at all was considerable, but he was right. When I lived in London, I could park an aircraft carrier on a postage stamp. Now I struggle to park an S-Class in a city street.  

Mileage: 7707

There’s still much to explore, even from 1500 miles away - 20 July

I’ve been playing with an app. In my techno-Luddite world, that’s akin to Tarzan riding a monorail around the jungle. But sitting here in the Corfiot sunshine, I can look at my telephone and see that my car remains where I last parked it, some 1500 miles away from where I am now.

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If it weren’t, I could deactivate the key from here. I can tell that it’s locked, and were it not, I could lock it from here. If I had left it with valet parking, I could set a geofenced perimeter that would alert me were the car to breach it in my absence. I can tell that no one has driven into it hard enough to trigger its collision detection sensors.

I know how much petrol is in the tank and how full of electrons is the battery. I could programme it to ensure that upon my arrival at its door, the interior temperature would be precisely what I would choose, regardless of the weather outside.

I can open or close the windows and/or the sunroof. I can review the tiniest details of my last journey and bone up on how to drive the next one more frugally. And so on and on and on.

Merc s class rt 37

The app is called Mercedes Me, and it puts a staggering amount of information and functionality at my fingertips. Which just leaves one question unanswered: does it say more about me or the app that I rarely use any of it?

Indeed, I don’t think I’ve ever simply gone onto it to find some fact or operate any one of the myriad features that it lets me access from anywhere in the world.

The greatest use it has been to me is that on a couple of occasions I’ve come home with lots of stuff to unload and then gone on to some other activity only to be reminded that I’ve not locked the car. A press of an icon later, the car is secure again without me even needing to search for the key, let alone visit the car.

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Sometimes I wonder whether all this gizmology is there because it’s so much easier to create the impression of progress by such means than, for instance, making the car even quieter and comfier – which in the S-Class’s case would be a very tall order indeed.

There are all manner of cars that I drive now, probably most of them, that offer an entire platoon of apps on their touchscreens, none of which I ever use. And when I talk of such things to my children, I discover that they don’t use them either.

Then again, perhaps we Frankels are strange. If nothing else, the Mercedes Me app provides a fleeting diversion from anything else that I might be doing – a welcome and interesting displacement activity. For that alone, it has its value. 

Love it

Computer world

Breathtaking levels of tech are at your disposal, none more evident than the world of possibilities provided by the Mercedes Me app.

Loathe it

Losing touch

I just can’t get on with the haptic controls on the steering wheel. I was told that I would get used to them, but that was 4000 miles ago and I still haven’t. 

Mileage: 6803

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The Big-Benz is not quite at home in tight spaces - 13 July

There are few drawbacks to living with a big Benz, but multi-storey car parks are one. My nemesis this time came in the Gatwick short-termer. People worry about threading wide cars around these places, but in fact long ones are worse, as one now badly kerbed wheel attests.It was, of course, entirely my fault, and I’m furious with myself. 

Mileage: 5998

Range Rover launch gives rise to impromptu comparison - 6 July

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It did feel a little unfair to turn up at the recent launch of the all-new Range

Rover in a Mercedes-Benz S-Class. It meant that my experience of Land Rover’s crucial new flagship would be topped and tailed by journeys in what I have no doubt is the best mass-produced luxury car in the world.

The Range Rover is a car that’s expected to climb slippery slopes, wade through mud baths, cross deserts and clamber over rocks, and were it to display any inadequacies in any of those directions, it would be roundly criticised for them by the likes of me. 

We don’t make such demands of the S-Class. Yet if the Range Rover turns out not to be quite as quiet and comfortable as the limousine, it will get a kicking for that, too. 

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For there’s that curious conundrum resulting from the requirement to build a car that absolutely has to be superlative off-road despite the fact that no one will ever take one off-road. There’s nowt so queer as folk, as they used to say in Yorkshire.

But I’m not here to review a Range Rover, just to make a few hopefully interesting observations about the Benz in the light of that experience. And it’s a fair comparison: both the S580e and the Rangie that I drove had a 3.0-litre straight-six engine and a list price within seven grand of the other, which up here in the rarefied air above £100,000 isn’t much. But while the Benz is a petrol-electric hybrid, the Rangie was a diesel.

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I would have always placed myself in the diesel camp for such cars until now. But not only is its price absurd, I think the Benz’s powertrain is simply superior, too. It’s quieter even when the ICE is on; it has even more torque, which surprised me; and while the Range Rover motor develops a little less than 350bhp, the Benz has a little more than 500bhp.

The cars have very similar weights, yet while the Range Rover does 35.7mpg on the combined scale (the Benz’s equivalent figure is over 300mpg because of the hybrid and therefore meaningless), I can get 40mpg from the S580 even without a charged battery.

On my current tank of fuel, with plenty of home-charged electric motoring, it’s doing around 52mpg and genuinely covering more than 60 miles without the need for an engine.

No question the Rangie has more sense of occasion: I actually prefer its cabin, and its ride and refinement are the next best thing to the Benz. Remember, too, that the S580 has no seven-seat option, nor would it have a decent crack at the Darien Gap were you so minded, either.

But for me, who only goes off-road when work requires it but who has to pay for every drop of his own fuel, the S-Class just makes more sense.

Love it

Watershed moment

This is the first plug-in hybrid powertrain that’s actually better than a diesel alternative.

Loathe it

Auto activation 

The lane keeping aid defaults to on, requiring two menus and two button presses to cancel. 

Mileage: 5771

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There are few cars suited to long distances than this plug-in S-Class - 15 June

It’s an eight-hour drive from home to Lotus HQ and back, so it’s important to have the right wheels. This is a journey for which the S580e was born: not fast, not fun, but important. What would have been better? A Rolls, perhaps; but at £2 a litre, I’d be broke before I was home. The Benz topped 40mpg. For that trip and this person, it was unimprovable. AF

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Mileage: 5067

Life with a Mercedes S-Class PHEV: Month 1

What could be more frugal than a five-metre-long, 3.0-litre straight-six petrol limo?  - 8 June

Before the big Benz silently rolled up to the house, I had spent the previous few months knocking about in a Land Rover Defender. Brilliant car: I loved every minute of it, save those rather too frequent occasions spent filling its tank and emptying my wallet at the same time. 

Even with just a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, with petrol prices being what they are, it was a sizeable disincentive. It would only do 25mpg if you drove it unusually gently.

So what hope, then, for the S-Class, with its similar weight and a 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine?

Of course, the secret lies in its ability to travel a considerable distance on battery power alone (of which much more in a minute), but it’s easy to exclude that from the reckoning just by pressing the ‘battery hold’ icon on the touchscreen. And what’s astonishing is that, even if I factor in the usual optimism of the Mercedes trip computer (why are they allowed to not tell the truth?), it will still do close to 40mpg without depleting its electrical reserves in the slightest.

For that, I can thank a shape that is to the Defender as a pencil is to a house brick, but also an astonishing ability to scavenge energy in the most unlikely of circumstances. Find myself on the gentlest downhill gradient and it will have the engine off in an instant, stopping dead all those energy-sapping reciprocating masses, because it has figured out that it can maintain progress on the energy it’s recovering without troubling that in the battery. Sometimes I even see the electric range increase by a mile or two.

But actually I spend as much time as possible driving it on electricity sourced from my wallbox at home. Because it has a chunky 28.6kWh battery, that gives it a claimed range of 63 electric-only miles. Compare that with the 25 miles of the Bentley Bentayga Hybrid that I ran on this fleet earlier in the year.

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Actually, and now that it has learned a bit about me, how and where I tend to drive, the Benz is estimating (and delivering) around 66 electric-only miles. 

So unless I’m going a long way, this ultra-luxury, long-wheelbase limousine, with its 2.4-tonne kerb weight and more than 500bhp, has the lowest energy cost of any car that I’ve ever owned or run.

Even long journeys, like my typical trundle to London and back, will yield well over 50mpg without me recharging it in the city.

The other great bonus is that it keeps me out of service stations. Because I add another 60-plus miles of range every time I plug it in at home, it can go enormous distances without troubling a forecourt (886 miles on the last ‘tank’), which makes journeys quicker and more pleasant.

The downside is that about a third of the boot capacity is lost, which is significant. But with both Frankel offspring long since fledged and dispatched from the nest, it’s not something that troubles me with any regularity at all.

Love it 

What inflation?

Extraordinary energy efficiency for such a heavy and powerful car is much appreciated with the current cost of fuel.

Loathe it 

Roofbox required

The boot capacity is okay for me, but those wanting to travel across Europe with a family of four need to satisfy themselves it will do the job. 

Mileage: 4222

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Welcoming the S-Class to the fleet - 25 May 2022

Thirty years ago, there was another S-Class Benz on this very fleet. It was an S500 of the W140 generation: silver paint, V8 motor, keys guarded very closely by one S. Cropley Esq, who remains of this parish to this day. But I was able to wrench them from his grip once, because Jaguar was launching the new Daimler Double Six and we had to do a twin test with the world’s best luxury car. Which the S-Class was.

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The good news for me was the launch was in Biarritz. But it was also on Valentine’s Day, so I drove down overnight with my then girlfriend (now wife) in the passenger seat and promptly fell in love – with the car, you understand. I still regard successfully smuggling my other half onto a two-day car launch one of the greater achievements of my career.

Ever since, that car has set the standard against which all mainstream luxury cars, and S-Classes in particular, have been measured in general, at least in my mind. And while some have been quicker, quieter and doubtless even more sybaritically comfortable, none has yet managed to suffuse me with quite the same sense of supreme well-being achieved by that old W140. Cropley still gets misty-eyed about it to this day, and rightly so.

So that’s the job here, of this top-of-the-range, flag-waving, all-singing, all-dancing new S-Class, which is mine for the next few months. It comes with a wheelbase almost as long as its name, denoting it to be the one that sits at the top of the pile, the numero uno, the majordomo of the S-Class household. It also has, and this is the crucial bit, a plug-in hybrid drive.


Why crucial? Because it is allegedly capable of travelling 63 miles on electrons alone. If this is true, and thanks to my trusty Pod Point home charger, this will take the financial sting out of even quite long journeys while also allowing me to waft around on a cushion of electrons, to which, I must say,

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I am quite looking forward. Mercedes-Benz ordered the car and wanted it to be the range-topping model but invited me to choose its colour inside and out, plus optional extras. So wishing to make as small an additional statement compared with that already inherent in driving an S-Class, I chose standard Selenite Grey metallic paintwork with a black leather interior. To be honest, those were easy choices, but not as easy as the options. Staggeringly well equipped as it already is, I asked for and received precisely none.

What it lacks, which even Cropley’s old S500 had, is a V8. That’ll come when the AMG variant arrives on stream later this year, but the S580 packs a 3.0-litre straight six with 362bhp in conjunction with a 148bhp electric motor fed by a 28.6kWh battery, which is more than twice the capacity of that fitted to, say, a Bentley Flying Spur hybrid. Hence the enormous all-electric range.

There’s a price to be paid, of course: it weighs 2385kg, but I guess if there was a class of car where some excess avoirdupois was going to cause less trouble than others, this is probably it. More irksome is the resulting reduction in boot capacity of around 10%, or more if you want to take the charging cables in their bags along for the ride with you.

Talking of charging, the S580e also comes with another USP, at least among plug-in hybrid saloons: it will take a fast charge on the motorway at up to 60kW, which will replenish the battery from 10-80% full in just 20 minutes. I’d probably just continue using the ICE, not least as motorway electricity seems to be no cheaper than motorway petrol these days, but the facility is there if you want it.

Mercedes s class long term review boot

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The other really smart thing it has are dual-purpose steering-wheel paddles. You can choose to use them to change gear as usual, or you can use them to set the amount of regenerative braking you want. There are three settings: the default mode offers a small, fairly unobtrusive amount of regen, but pull the right- hand paddle and it disappears almost entirely.

Pull the left-hand one, however, and there’s so much regen you barely ever need to use the brake pedal. I quite like that, along with watching the electric range meter tick up during long downhill sections, but others will not. There’s also a whole new world waiting for me to investigate via the Mercedes Me app. When I’ve registered, I’ll be able to find the car, lock the car, start the car, pre- condition the cabin of the car and upload destinations to the car all from the comfort of my own sofa, or perhaps someone else’s.

Apparently, I’ll also be able to park it remotely. I do wonder whether this will prove a genuinely useful and valued benefit to the ownership experience, or whether I’ll discover it’s just another one of those gimmicks that seems curiously beguiling when you read about it and is used once for fun, then forgotten about forever after. But I look forward to finding out.

Second Opinion

There’s a great deal to like in the new S-Classes I’ve driven (this particular grey example I haven’t yet managed), but I’m particularly taken with the way they drive. For a big car packed with tech, adding weight and complexity, the S is, for me, still the standout car in this class to drive.

Matt Prior

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Mercedes S-Class S580e specification

Prices: List price new £113,990 List price now £121,295 Price as tested £113,880

Options: None

Fuel consumption and range: Claimed economy 403.6mpg Fuel tank 67 litres Test average 48.7mpg Test best 54.2mpg Test worst 33.1mpg Real-world range 718 miles

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Tech highlights: 0-62mph 5.2sec Top speed 155mph Engine 6 cyls in line, 2999cc, turbocharged, petrol, plus electric motor Max power 503bhp Max torque 553lb ft Transmission 9-spd automatic Boot capacity 350 litres Wheels 10.5Jx20in Tyres 255/40 ZR 20 Kerb weight 2385kg

Service and running costs: Contract hire rate £1684 CO2 16g/km Service costs None Other costs None Fuel costs £1849 (petrol), £600 (electric) Running costs inc fuel £2449 Cost per mile 21 pence Faults None

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Join the debate

Add a comment…
manicm 13 December 2022
Andrew methinks you had one too many tipples while writing this gem:

'The less important of the two was the fact that the 3-litre straight six motor is remarkably frugal, capable of putting almost 40 miles under the wheels of this heavy but slippery car even with a completely drained battery'

40 miles of what?

xxxx 24 December 2022

40 miles of travel, distance.... etc what is there not to understand

xxxx 26 October 2022

It's all well and good spurting figures out about the equivalent mpg but unless you include the cost of the electricity this whole long term review of a £114k tax dodger PHEV is a pointless excercise.

Oh and 29kwhs needed for 60 miles in a saloon is really poor.

Foxfour 3 September 2022

The question about  the app having all sorts of information available that people  dont use is answered   that the  car company uses it.

Sometimes  getting features that 'surprise and delight' users is just a smokescreen for the raw data ending up in  the car companies  digital archives 

Mercedes along with other car makers is harvesting all the data about how their customers use the vehicle and where they go. The app interface on your phone means   they  could  track your movements  when not in the car as well from the apps  acess to your phones  own features.