By on April 8, 2009

For years, Motown and Motown-sympathetic carmudgeons tarred and feathered the Toyota Prius for its “hybrid premium.” Other than Car Czar Maximum Bob Lutz, who never held a stance he couldn’t not defend with fact=based logic, critics of the “eco-weenie’s poseur mobile” trotted out chart after chart on the Prius’ miles per gallon, purchase price, the cost of gas and the cost of batteries; compared to, say, a Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS. Meanwhile, consumers bought the Prius—to the point where the model outsells entire GM brands (something of a mean feat). Meanwhile, the LS600h L. As my review pointed out, flipping heck! The gas – electric luxury car has one of the world’s finest engines. Not to be outdone—provided you don’t think “first in” counts—Mercedes has unveiled its first gas – electric hybrid: the S400 HYBRID (all caps all theirs).

The Lexus LS600h L was designated a “600” because Lexus reckoned the battery-enabled V8 engine performed like a 6.0-liter V12 (no argument here). Besides, the most expensive model/range topper should wear the highest number. So, will Mercedes’ gas – electric S400 HYBRID perform like a 4.0-liter V8? Ja, maybe. It’s equipped with a 3.5-liter V6 good for 275 hp married to an electric motor that generates 20 hp and “a starting torque of 118 lb·ft.” Put it all together and what do you get? Twenty-nine miles per gallon on the EPA’s highway cycle, presumably.

Well, that’s the headline anyway. In fact, Mercedes wants you to know that the S400 HYBRID “dispels the myth that sustainable mobility is only possible with small cars.” There’ll be some sniggering in Japan tonight, folks. Anyway, Merc’s HYBRID is a bit like Time magazine’s cover: when a trend hits the front, it’s so mainstream its not worth bothering about anymore.

All of which means Toyota hybrid owners are free to go about their business without condescending MSM pricks and Detroit apologists (and condescending MSM Detroit apologists) telling them that they’re poseurs.

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10 Comments on “Mercedes Hybrid S-Class: Four Minutes to Save the World...”


  • avatar
    like.a.kite

    I’m pretty sure it’s ‘blueHYBRID’, and maybe capitalized. Not just HYBRID though.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Are there any details as to the system itself? I recall that the Germans were by and large working on a system similar to GM’s BAS and Honda’s IMA: effectively a big starter motor coupled to a regenerative braking system.

    There’s some virtue to such a system—it’s simple, cheap and effective—but it’s not really in the same league as the Toyota, Ford, GM (Two-Mode) and Nissan systems.

  • avatar
    M1EK

    It’s a bit of an exaggeration to say Prius sales crashed – they haven’t been disproportionately down compared to similarly expensive cars. In the Toyota lineup, the trend over the last 6 months or so is that the Prius/Camry/Avalon are down more, the Corolla down less (the outlier being the Yaris, which is cheap but sucks).

  • avatar

    M1EK

    Fair comment (i.e. I was wrong). Text amended.

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    What’s really interesting is that Mercedes hasn’t offered a six-cylinder S-Class in the US for some time now – this is, in Europe, about 10,000 € cheaper than the S550.

    (and about 8,000€ more expensive than the European best-selling V6 diesel model)

  • avatar
    like.a.kite

    I’m also certain you get a big decal along the side (two, actually), like with the GM SUVs, but in a serif typeface that doesn’t rip off what Porsche does.

  • avatar
    NickR

    Given Benz’s mastery of things electrical (the ghost of deceased Lucas engineers whafted across Europe on a stiff breeze) I can’t wait to see how this turns out.

  • avatar
    M1EK

    Thanks, Robert; you went well above and beyond with the correction. I think the cost issue affects cars like this one even more (how is the Lexus 600 hybrid doing right now anyways? report I saw didn’t say).

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    @Robert Farago :
    Do you think this is the same system as the S400’s?

    No, the S400 uses a mild hybrid system. Co-developed with BMW. There was about a million articles about some aspects of that already in the press for the last few years. It uses a very small Li-Ion battery that goes in the place of the old starter battery. So nothing to eat into the trunk.
    The battery is supplied by Continental. They trumpeted some specs around in press releases in early 2008. Mercedes has shown the S400 hybrid on the 2007 Frankfurt Auto Show as a concept car, specs are virtually unchanged. Did you miss it back then?

    @M1EK :
    I think the cost issue affects cars like this one even more

    The S400 hybrid is 71,700€ in Germany, while the S550 is 81,700€.

    There is no cheaper S than the 550 in America. So how is cost a problem?

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Wonder if it will be as reliable as there other steller products electrical gremlins and all.

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