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Motoring: Super green limousine

12:33 07 April 2015

Mercedes S500 Plug-In Hybrid

Mercedes S500 Plug-In Hybrid

Barry Hayden

Green motoring comes at a hefty price with the Mercedes-Benz S 500 Plug-in Hybrd, but that’s the only sticking point, says motoring editor Andy Russell

The Mercedes S500 is plugged in via the rear bumperThe Mercedes S500 is plugged in via the rear bumper

As the hybrid market gains pace, green cars don’t come much pacier than the new Mercedes-Benx S 500 Plug-in Hybrid.

The third hybrid in this luxury saloon range, this is the first plug-in and can be topped up in around two hours via a fast charging point that plugs into a port in the back bumper.

Combining a 3-litre V6 biturbo petrol engine and a powerful electric motor (a total 449hp and the ability to travel more than 20 miles purely on electric power) gives performance figures as impressive as the S-Class itself – 0 to 62mph in just over five seconds and a top speed limited to 155mph. It’s capable of more than 100mpg with CO2 emissions of just 65g/km, so exempt from road tax and London Congestion Charge while, if lucky enough to have one as a company car, you pay benefit-in-kind tax on only five per cent of its value – that’s not a lot even with the £87,965 price tag.

The S-Class is one of the world’s most luxurious, desirable saloons and the new ultra-refined power system, with seven-speed automatic transmission, makes it even better. In electric mode, capable of propelling its 2.2-tonnes at up to 87mph, you are aware only of the swish of tyres on the road and hardly notice the petrol engine, so motorway cruising is near silent.

While 100mpg is unlikely in real-world driving, with care and clever built-in route technology that predicts where energy can be harvested when coasting and braking to top up the battery, economy figures on a par with superminis can be achieved. That’s even more extraordinary given this executive vehicle’s blistering sports car-like performance..

Four modes match the power supply to driving conditions: Hybrid uses the petrol engine with the electric motor. E-Mode is electric power alone. E-Save holds battery charge for use in stop-start traffic. And in Charge mode the petrol engine generates electricity and quickly tops up the battery while driving.

While you get all the comfort, luxurious ride and cabin space of the S-Class, the battery pack eats into space at the back of the boot, reducing it to a still useful 395 litres.

The S 500 Plug-in Hybrid is out of most people’s price range but its technology shows how far hybrid power has come and, very importantly, this know-how will filter down into more affordable future models.

FACTFILE

■ Price: S500 Plug-in Hybrid AMG Line L £87,965

■ Power system: 2,996cc, 333hp biturbo V6 petrol engine and 116hp electric motor

■ Performance: 0-62mph 5.2 seconds; top speed 155mph (ltd)

■ MPG: 100.9 combined

■ CO2 emissions: 65g/km

■ Insurance group: 50 (out of 50)

■ Length 5,246mm; width 2,130mm; height 1,496mm

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